Meet the Recipients of the AIA’s 2015 Young Architect Award

Gabrielle Golenda Gabrielle Golenda

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is pleased to announce the 14 recipients of the 2015 Young Architect Award. AIA defines “young” in reference to years in practice rather than the age of the individual — the award can go to any AIA member who has been licensed for 10 years or less, regardless of age. The awardees are recognized for demonstrating exceptional leadership and making significant contributions to the profession in an early stage of their architectural career. Each of the 14 young architects will receive the award at the AIA 2015 National Convention and Design Exposition, set to take place in Atlanta from May 14–16 of this year.

The award, now in its 22nd year, will be presented to:


Poydras Residential Tower

Jose Alvarez, AIA, of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Alvarez holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Universidad Jose Maria Vargas in Caracas and a Master of Architecture from Tulane University. He has called New Orleans home for the past 17 years, working for Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, where he is credited to some of the firm’s most iconic and challenging projects to date, including the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC); the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge, La.; 930 Poydras Residential Tower in New Orleans; and Teatro Santander, in São Paolo, Brazil.


Image via MKM architecture + design

Zachary R. Benedict, AIA, of MKM architecture + design

Benedict has three degrees from Ball State University: a Bachelor of Architecture, a Master of Architecture, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design. He has remained in Indiana, practicing as an architect and urbanist at Ft. Wayne-based firm MKM architecture + design. The firm is known for its focus on health and wellness and projects, thanks largely to Benedict’s strength in urban sociology and neighborhood revitalization. He is responsible for the firm’s community-based projects and research efforts, from senior care facilities to public libraries. The focus of his work lies in the future of the American Midwest and the socioeconomic benefits of intergenerational communities.


Ashland Youth Center by HB+A Architects

Hafsa Burt, AIA, of HB+A Architects

Burt completed both her Bachelor and Master of Architecture at Savannah College of Art and Design. She established her own firm, HB+A Architects. For 16 years, she has been practicing as an architect, project manager, green building advocate/consultant, and indoor air-quality specialist. Just as she focuses on improving environmental impact and community enrichment in her work, she also volunteers her time to issues concerning the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium by Cambridge Seven Associates

Justin Crane, AIA, of Cambridge Seven Associates

Crane received his Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and holds a Master of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He co-founded Common Boston, a popular, grassroots architecture festival. He helped it grow from a small organization to an 11-day, city-wide event that creates a dialogue between the public and architects in shaping a more sustainable, equitable, and inspiring built environment. Justin has focused on education in various ways, as a board member and currently president of Learning By Design in Massachusetts, which focuses on K–12 education, as well as in his professional work designing museums and educational institutions, such as the Giant Ocean Tank at the New England Aquarium.


Image via Life at HOK

Sarah W. Dirsa, AIA, of HOK

Dirsa holds both of Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Design from Washington University of St. Louis. She co-founded HOK IMPACT and SEED St. Louis. Both initiatives serve as ways to recognize the great community work already being done within the international design firm and in St. Louis, respectively, as well as to promote a community of givers and advocate for increased participation in public interest design projects. Sarah pioneered the role of HOK’s first-ever global chair of social responsibility, which speaks to her passion for promoting public interest design engagement at both the firm-wide and community scale. An example of her socially conscious work includes an orphanage in Haiti that allows for 100 percent on-site energy generation and borrows from ideas of biomimicry to provide a safe haven for vulnerable children.


Image via Architizer

Andrew Dunlap, AIA, of SmithGroupJJR

Dunlap started his career at SmithGroupJJR as an intern in 1999. He is a building enclosure specialist, with expertise in exterior building enclosures and thermal analysis — roofing, skylights, curtain walls, windows and waterproofing — including those of historic structures. Andrew has corrected problems with architectural and historic gems, like the Eliel Saarinen-designed Cranbrook Art Museum. He is now working as trusted project leader, mentor, and advisor at his firm.


New Parkland Hospital by HDR

James ‘Jim’ Henry, AIA, of HDR

A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Henry joined HDR as senior healthcare designer in 2005 and quickly rose through the ranks to become the youngest design principal in the firm’s 98-year history at the Dallas studio. The majority of Henry’s work focuses on healthcare design, recent examples include: the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, an AIA Dallas Design Award Winner and the largest hospital construction project in the United States; and the Lackland Air Force Base Ambulatory Care Center, an Honor Award recipient in the U.S. Air Force Design Awards and the largest clinic ever designed for the Department of Defense.


Image via NBBJ

Chris Hong, AIA, of Group 70 International, Inc.

Hong received his Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Upon graduating, he began working as a design at NBBJ in Seattle and is currently an associate at Group 70 International in Honolulu. He is involved in many industry committees, such as the AIA Hawaii and the construction committee for the Honolulu Habitat for Humanity. Mentoring is important to Hong, over the past decade he has led design-related high school programs and has worked closely with students at the University of Hawaii, University of Washington, and University of Oregon.


Trojan Grill by WER Architects

James A. Meyer, AIA, of WER Architects

Meyer attained his Bachelors of Architecture from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Shortly after graduating, he started studioMAIN, a nonprofit of dedicated design and construction professionals who volunteer their time pursuing work in public interest design. He has worked on projects with WER Architects and University of Iowa Community Design Center, and in 2013 he was awarded the AIA Emerging Professional award for exceptional civil participation and professional mentorship.


322 Reinvented by Substance Architecture

Ann Sobiech Munson, AIA, of Substance Architecture

Munson holds a Master of Architecture from Iowa State University and a Master of Art in English Literature from Emory University. She has spent most of her professional life working as an architect and as an instructor at Iowa State University. Throughout her career, she has taken notice of a lack of gender diversity and started Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia), a nonprofit group that organizes educational programs. After workshopping and analysis, iaWia produced an inventive paper “Best Practices Recommendations for the Design Profession.” In November 2013 she was elected to be on the City Council in Slater, Iowa.


Transparent House by PYATOK | architecture + urban design

Adrianne Steichen, AIA, of PYATOK | architecture + urban design

A Master of Architecture from Tulane University, Adrianne is currently Project Manager and Project Architect at PYATOK. She furthers the firm’s social mission to design low- and moderate-income housing for residential communities and students. She is a former board member on the Phi Sigma Pi foundation, which supports Teach for America as its national philanthropy. She is currently on the Board of Director of the AIA San Francisco chapter.


Image via AIA

Rebecca Talbert, AIA, of Dewberry Architects

Talbert received her Master of Architecture from University of Florida. In addition to practicing at Dewberry Architects, she is a professor for the architecture programs at Valencia College and University of Central Florida. In the past decade, Talbert has served on various AIA boards and committees. She is also a member of the Winter Park Historic Preservation Board, where her efforts have focused on historic preservation with local organizations, including Friends of Casa Feliz.


Image via m ARCHITECTS

Derek C. Webb, AIA, of m ARCHITECTS

Webb holds a Master of Architecture from Texas Tech University. A principal at m ARCHITECTS, he has worked on a wide range of both public and private projects – from libraries to healthcare centers. He is an active member for both the AIA Houston chapter and Rice Design Alliance. He has taught at University of Houston, Prairie View A&M University, and the Art Institute of Houston.


Image via Architizer

Elizabeth Whittaker, AIA, merge architects inc.

Whittaker received her Master of Architecture from Harvard University. Today she is principal of merge architects inc. in Boston, where she is known both for her focus on sustainability and for her loft designs and urban spaces. She is a faculty member of the Harvard University Graduate Design School, and teaches at several other design studios. She is an active member of both AIA and the Boston Society of Architects Board of Directors.

*Note: AIA specifically uses the phrase “made significant contributions to the profession in an early stage of their architectural career” because it is generally understood that many do not practice immediately after graduating.

This post has been corrected to clarify the projects that Justin Crane has worked on at Cambridge Seven Associates, and Adrianne Steichen’s role at PYATOK and AIA San Francisco.

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