History of CBF

The Cornerstone Building Foundation was founded in 1994 by Robert Hershberger, FAIA, then Dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Arizona. Dean Hershberger asked that the American Institute of Architects Southern Arizona Chapter join with the Arizona Builders’ Alliance Southern Division to form a 501(c)(6) nonprofit group whose purpose would be simple and straightforward:

  • To honor the best in project delivery through an annual awards program that recognized all members of the building community in the format of a “dream team”.
  • To bring architects and contractors and later, engineers, women in construction, specification writers, A/E firm administrators, and A/E firm marketing individuals together in a regular forum to allow for the exchange of ideas in a free flowing environments in order to develop stronger working relationships.
  • To provide a forum for educational opportunities that would meet the needs of all member associations.
  • To raise money for scholarships and other worthy projects at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, TUSD, and other educational institutions and a variety of other programs related to the design and construction industry.

To accomplish these goals, the Foundation has held an annual Building Industry Golf (B.I.G.) tournament each fall for the past 25 years and holds the annual Cornerstone Awards Banquet in March of each year.  In 2020, Cornerstone celebrates its 26th anniversary!

The Foundation expanded its membership in 1999 to include the American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona (ACEC) and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC.)  In 2000, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) was added as a member of the Foundation.  Today, Cornerstone’s Board of Directors is comprised of two representatives from each of these groups and three representatives from both AIA and ABA, as well as a member from Southwest Gas  major corporate sponsor.  The Board meetings quarterly and directs activities of the Foundation.

The Foundation has participated in the funding of several scholarships at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, the Arizona Builders Alliance, and other institutions and prides itself in supporting these design & construction programs.

Southwest Gas has been a partner with the Foundation since its inception.  This year (2020)will mark the 26th anniversary and Southwest Gas sponsorship of the Annual Cornerstone Awards Banquet.

In 2011, BizTucson Magazine joined as the official media partner of the Foundation.  The issue following each banquet will include full coverage of the Cornerstone Building Foundation awards recipients and is circulated to more than 22,000 individuals and firms.

In 2005, the Foundation welcomed Hensel-Phelps General Contractors, who joined the corporate sponsor group in presenting the annual BIG Tournament.  They sponsored this tournament in 2019.  The Foundation thanks Hensel-Phelps for its sponsorship of the BIG Tournament for fifteen years!  The 2020 tournament will have a new name sponsor.

In 2010, Southern Arizona’s construction industry lost one of its well respected members, Jerry Wyatt.  To honor Jerry, the Foundation created the Jerry Wyatt Community Service Award.  This award, given to Jerry in 2010 posthumously, has become an annual program for the Foundation.  The award is given to an outstanding person who best emulates Jerry’s efforts to improve the southern Arizona commercial construction industry and the Tucson community.

The Cornerstone Building Foundation and the funds it has supported has donated more than $250,000 to scholarships and other construction related programs since 1999.

In 2009, the Foundation created a separate 501(c)(3) organization, the Cornerstone Building Foundation Charities which is doing business as CBF Charities, Inc.  With this entity, tax deductible donations are now accepted.  This corporation, which has its own Board of Directors, has become the depository of Cornerstone’s endowment funds and granter of Cornerstone scholarships.  In 2010, the Charities Foundation received its first contribution for the NAWIC Shirley Dail Scholarship, totaling $35,000.  Other funds have been created to honor Robert Swaim, AIA founding principal of Swaim Associates, Ltd., Chuck Albanese, FAIA, former Dean of the University of Arizona College of Architecture and Larry Monrad, Electrical Engineer.  Including additions to other scholarship funds, the Foundation has total assets of about $70,000.

CBF Charities has awarded scholarships funded by the Cornerstone Building Foundation, Inc., member organizations, and the Charities organization itself.  In 2020, some $50,000 in scholarships will be awarded.  The University of Arizona College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture and the College of Engineering will receive funds as will  the Arizona Builder’s Alliance programs and NAWIC.

Cornerstone committed to raise a total of $30,000 for the Charles & Claire Albanese Traveling Scholarship.  Chuck Albanese, FAIA has contributed $10,000 to that amount and he will be making an announcement at the banquet.

In 2020 and beyond, the Cornerstone Building Foundation will continue to focus its efforts on creating an active fund-raising presence for its member organizations in order to continue to fund scholarships on an annual basis.  The CBF Charities, Inc. Board will dedicate its efforts to raising money and, with the assistance and direction of its management team headed by Brent L. Davis, Executive Director, it will continue to be the primary funder of scholarships for students in architecture, engineering, design, and construction.

In the past, the Foundation has supported the Al Burlini, AIA Scholarship, the Cornerstone Robert & Dee Hershberger Traveling Scholarship, the Philip W. Dinsmore, FAIA Scholarship, and the Harold Pedersen, AIA Scholarship, all of which are now endowed at the University of Arizona.  A major new endowment was announced at this year’s awards banquet!  The endowments have been made possible by contributions from the Foundation and many other sources, including their families and friends.

With the support of southern Arizona’s design and construction industry and the exceptional guidance of its Board, Cornerstone looks forward to continuing its efforts and to annually honor the construction dream team, to provide a forum for discussion about issues related to all facets of the construction industry in southern Arizona, and to raise money for scholarships for those engaged in the educational process to become part of the southern Arizona design and construction industry!