09/06/22 Gary Brennen Awarded The 2022 USC Widney Alumni House Award


Gary Brennen, past president of the USC Architectural Guild Board of Directors, has been awarded the 2022 USC Widney Alumni House Award.


Widney Alumni House Volunteer Awards recognize the outstanding contributions of volunteers through service to the Trojan Family. Awards will be presented at the USC Volunteer Recognition Dinner on September 15, 2022, celebrating the dedicated volunteers who devote their time and energy to supporting the university.


Gary Brennen is a leader in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries (AEC). He is Co-President of Syska Hennessey Group – a world-recognized consulting engineering firm specializing in mechanical and electrical building systems along with information, technology and communication systems as well as vertical transportation, architectural lighting design and building commissioning.  


For years Gary has been a staunch and loyal supporter of enriching the student experience at the USC School of Architecture. Since the beginning of his term as Board Member of the USC Architectural Guild – an all-volunteer support group of the School of Architecture for more than 60 years – Gary has contributed personal time, resources, and talent into mentorship, career development, scholarship funding, and architecture development programming, to support the academic success of students and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the built environment.


After serving a three-year term on the USC Architectural Guild Board of Directors from the 2016-2019 academic years, Gary joined the Executive Committee of the Guild, serving four more years on the Board as Secretary, Vice President, President, and now Ex-Officio. He completed his Executive Committee term in June of 2022.


An alumnus of The Pennsylvania State University, Gary has been instrumental in strengthening the Trojan Family and network for USC Architecture students. He sees the importance of utilizing the infrastructure of a renowned university to influence the next generation of built environment leaders, leveraging the unique opportunities and lessons Los Angeles has to offer. Through his mentorship, scholarship support, among countless volunteer hours, Gary has given each and every USC Architecture student the opportunity to launch into their dream career, finding purpose and fulfillment on their journey.


At the height of the pandemic, which brought on a multitude of challenges and much uncertainty, Gary led the Guild Board with calm and grace, charging the Board to strategically persevere, never faltering on the Guild’s mission to enhance the student experience, inspire and motivate students on their education journey and career aspirations, and build and foster a close community linking the school and students with the profession.


Inspired by Gary’s leadership, the Board sprang into action, swiftly pivoting all student engagement programs to virtual and hybrid formats, and continued to provide quality mentorship to students, career fairs, firm and site explorations, and a design competition.

During Gary's presidency, the Guild’s signature fundraising event, the Annual Guild Dinner, the largest industry event in the region, went virtual and was produced seamlessly. Hosted by author and television-personality Lisa Ling, the event raised more than $320,000 for student scholarships and programming. 


Gary has always had the commitment and support of Syska Hennessy Group to sponsor the Guild's Annual Golf Tournament at the $10,000 level or more, and has been doing so since serving as Board Member of the USC Architectural Guild since 2017


Along with supporting current student experiences at the School, mentoring two students each academic year throughout his entire board term, Gary also leveraged Syska support to provide seed funding in launching the USC A-Lab Architecture Development Program – giving high school students from underserved communities a pathway into the design fields, helping to diversify the industry.


Serving on the Guild Board is an all-volunteer effort, but it is equivalent to a full-time job in scale and production. The Guild fulfills many of the School of Architecture’s student enrichment programs – from mentorship to career development, to funding critical scholarships for the most deserving, talented students, and much, much more. Gary has been doing this for more than seven years, all while leading a global company.


Outside of Syska and the USC Architectural Guild Board, Gary is an active member of Penn State’s Industry Professionals Advisory Council (IPAC) for the College of Engineering, and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Risk Management Committee. Over the past several years, Gary has served as a panel judge for the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) Western Pacific Region Awards.


Gary holds a BSAE from The Pennsylvania State University and is a licensed professional engineer in Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, and New York as well as a LEED AP. In 1982, he joined Syska right out of college and was the firm’s first Certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM). Before becoming co-president in 2007, Gary and Co-President Cyrus Izzo continue to push the firm forward in technical excellence, innovations, DEI and social justice, climate action and health and wellbeing. As a member of Syska’s Board of Directors, Gary is responsible for long-term growth and corporate governance of the privately held firm, which was founded in 1928.


Gary has worked with many of the firm’s clients on the most complex and important projects such as the O’Hare Global Terminal, San Diego Airport Terminal 1 replacement project, United States Courthouse Los Angeles, Long Beach Civic Center, Long Beach Courthouse, Los Angeles International Airport, L.A. LIVE, Phoenix Convention Center, Minneapolis Convention Center, and Orlando International Airport South Terminal.


As Gary ended his term with the USC Architectural Guild Board this past June 2022, he did so with University-level recognition of his outstanding achievements, dedication, and commitment to the Trojan family.


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