Letter from the president

There is so much going on in our profession and the world that intersects with the Architects Foundation’s mission to stand behind students, especially students of color that need financial support to realize their dream of becoming an architect. This time of racial reckoning and the daylighting of America’s parallel histories, one of which has been hidden in plain sight, gives us new opportunities to shape policies, practices, and values moving forward.

I’m proud to report that the foundation’s scholarship programs have impacted the trajectories of nearly 2,500 students over the last 50 years. Looking ahead, supporting minority students will continue to be a primary focus, as well as supporting the AIA Large Firm Round Table’s goal of doubling the number of licensed Black architects by the year 2030.  Last year alone, donations to our Diversity Advancement Scholarship increased by more than $200,000, allowing us to double our awards in 2021.

As stewards of The Octagon, we will activate, program, and leverage this special place, which was once AIA’s headquarters and home to a U.S. President, to elevate conversations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are, in effect, proclaiming The Octagon to be the people’s space—one that is safe, respectful, equitable, provocative, and inspirational—and look forward to reopening the building to the public.

Despite a tumultuous year, your generous support has allowed so many good things to happen in 2020. Please enjoy this look at our accomplishments and join us in continuing to make a positive difference.


Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMAC
2021-22 President


Year in review





Scholarships help fill an important financial gap for many students and create opportunities for architecture’s next generation. Every year, the Architects Foundation awards thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants to high school students, students in undergraduate and graduate architecture degree programs, candidates taking the Architect’s Registration Exam, and emerging leaders seeking professional development opportunities

“Our scholars are at the center of the foundation’s narrative. Supporting them helps bring about the change we cannot delay any longer.”

—James Walbridge, FAIA, 2020 President


Scholarships by the numbers

DAS: 6 awards / $120,000
SPC:  1 award / $10,000
Weymouth: 1 award / $5,000
McAslan: 2 awards / $15,000
ProNet: 2 awards / $10,000
Pettigrew: 10 awards / $14,100
LFRT ARE: 2 awards / $2,820
RMHP: 4 awards / $30,000

DAS: 12 awards / $320,000
SPC:  1 award / $10,000
Weymouth: 1 award / $5,000
McAslan:  2 awards / $10,000
ProNet:  2 awards / $10,000
Pettigrew: 10 awards / $14,100
RMHP: 2 awards / $25,000

Scholarship highlights

  • Safdie Architects, Curry Stone Foundation, RS&H, Sherwin-Williams became scholarship partners of the Diversity Advancement Scholars
  • Michelle Badr, Marcos Borjas, Sophie Chien, Shannar O’Connor, Michael Lidwin, Robert Moy, Sydney Nguyen, and Moshe Wilke graduated from their architecture programs
  • Ethan Coverstone and Tasheria Shorts became licensed architects
  • We established semesterly meetups with our awardees to provide networking opportunities and a safe space during the pandemic
  • Volunteer fundraisers raised more than $200,000 for the Diversity Advancement Scholarship in support of black women and students at HBCUs


“We all know the statistics on minorities in architecture. The Architects Foundation supported me with a Diversity Advancement Scholarship, which helped me fund my architecture career, and a McAslan Fellowship, which supported my research interests. I am committed to paying it forward by being of service in any way possible to students receiving future Architects Foundation scholarships.”

—Vaughn Lewis, 2015 Diversity Advancement Scholar, 2019 AF/McAslan Fellow, 2020-2022 Architects Foundation Board Member


“The past five years of architecture school have been the most transformative years of my life. From the beginning, the odds were never in my favor, being that I am a black woman from a single parent, immigrant family. However, my hard work, determination, and aid from scholarships, such as the Diversity Advancement Scholarship, helped me to accomplish one of my major life goals—graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.Arch degree from my dream university (the University of Miami).”

—Shannar O’Connor , 2016 Diversity Advancement Scholar




2020 was a record fundraising year, especially for the Diversity Advancement Scholarship. Despite the pandemic, volunteers partnered with the foundation for awareness and fundraising initiatives and high-impact exhibits.

Black Lives Matter, New York Times ad

Diversity Advancement Scholarship for Historically Black College and University/ Underrepresented Minority Students
We raised $55,000 to run our first full-page announcement in the October 25 edition of the New York Times in “complete commitment to and support for the protection of Black lives and the advancement of Black livelihood.” The announcement expressed grave concern over the fact that less than 2% of U.S.-licensed architects are Black and less than one-fourth of Black architects are women, a statistic that has held steady for at least the last 50 years.

400+ architects and design professionals organized and funded the effort, constituting members of The American Institute of Architects and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

“This issue (the lack of Black architects) comes to surface every 10 years, gets two years of attention, then fades away. We’re looking at this moment as finally the possibility of a tipping point—that we don’t return to distraction, that we keep Black Lives Matter central to our lives, inside and outside the profession.”

—R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMAC, 2020 Vice President.

Through the advertisement, the foundation has received more than $200,000 in support for the Diversity Advancement scholarship through a new fund for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and underrepresented minorities at majority institutions (URMs).

Society's Cage

Society’s Cage Traveling Exhibition on Systemic Racial Injustice
SmithGroup partnered with the Architects Foundation to serve as the fiscal sponsor of Society’s Cage, a traveling exhibition expanding on the foundation’s mission as a mechanism for building empathy and healing. Fundraising is ongoing and more than $75,000 has been raised in exhibition sponsorships.

Society’s Cage was born in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor as our society reckons with institutional racism and white supremacy. The installation features a bold, interpretive pavilion sculpted to symbolize the historic forces of racialized state violence. The experience educates visitors and functions as a sanctuary to reflect, record, and share personal thoughts.

In 2020, Society’s Cage was exhibited in Washington, DC on the National Mall and in Baltimore, Maryland on War Memorial Plaza. Accolades include awards from NOMA National and Interior Design Magazine.

Diversity Advancement Scholarship Fund for Black Women
More than $75,000 was raised to support diversity scholarships for black women studying architecture, through the efforts of more than 40 volunteer architects and firms to help fundraise and provide matching gifts for diversity scholarships for black women studying architecture. $16,000 of these proceeds were raised through a partnership with Architecture for Change, a week-long auction of architectural works in December 2020 featuring contributions from David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA and Daniel Libeskind, FAIA.

AIA Virginia Fundraising Partnership for Hampton University
Hampton University received more than $8,000 from AIA Virginia through a fundraising partnership with the Architects Foundation for their “Visions for Architecture” Conference. Through a partnership with the Architects Foundation, AIA Virginia raised more than $8,000 to support Hampton University.



The Octagon

The Octagon closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, so we went digital with virtual tours and online events and activities.

  • Exhibitions in 2020-2021 were postponed to 2021-2022; planning efforts continue to focus on exhibitions and events amplifying justice, equity, diversity, and belonging efforts
  • Online programming brought new audiences to the museum through virtual talks and a virtual tour set up through Mortarr, resulting in more than 2,300 unique visitors
  • The Octagon undertook several repair projects while the museum was closed, including plaster damage repair in the dining room and emergency HVAC repair
  • A feasibility study conducted in Q2 included testing how the museum can elevate its programming to help The Octagon become “the people’s space.” Next steps will focus on planning out the implementation of this project through exhibit, event, and fundraising strategies



Support the Foundation

Our success depends on your support. Donate to the Architects Fund today to help us grow our scholarship and museum programs. Your gift is a direct investment in the next generation of architects and design professionals whose future work will make our world a better place. architectsfoundation.org