Category Archives: Uncategorized

Architects Foundation Announces 2021 Board of Directors

Two former NOMA presidents and two-time scholar among new board and leadership.

Washington, D.C. – The Architects Foundation, the philanthropic partner of The American Institute of Architects, today announced two new members of its Board of Directors. Kimberly Dowdell, AIA, and Vaughn Lewis, Assoc. AIA, will serve on the board from 2021 to 2023.

Kimberly Dowdell, AIA, NOMA, is the immediate past president (2019-2020) of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and a 2020 AIA Young Architects Award recipient. Dowdell is also the director of business development for HOK’s Chicago office.

Vaughn Lewis, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, is a past recipient of the 2019 Architects Foundation/McAslan Fellowship and the 2015 AIA/AF Diversity Scholarship. Lewis is also a junior designer at MBB Architects in New York.

“Kim and Vaughn join a board of leaders who are eager to support the next generation of architects through national programs and partnerships,” said 2021-2022 Architects Foundation President R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMA. “We are enthusiastic that they will help the Foundation expand and solidify its community.”

A complete list of directors can be reviewed online.

Architects Foundation Names 2021 Richard Morris Hunt Prize Recipients

Laureates receive a 6-month or 5-week travel fellowship to France to conduct cutting-edge research in historic preservation.

WASHINGTON –  The Architects Foundation, the Amis du Richard Morris Hunt Prize and the French Heritage Society today announced the 2021 recipients of the Richard Morris Hunt Prize, a travel fellowship to France for architects pursuing cutting-edge research on emerging trends in historic preservation.

Jonathan Bell, AIA, of Providence, R.I. will receive a $20,000 travel fellowship to carry out research over six months on resources for stabilizing abandoned buildings which are still outside of traditional heritage protections.

Gregoire Holeyman, AIA, of Washington, DC will receive a $5,000 award to research historic structures in France that have been successfully preserved and converted into museums.

The winners were selected from a group of four finalists, whose topics were vetted by a group of former American laureates.

“The jury had a very difficult decision to make, as all of the proposed topics were well-conceived, timely, and relevant,” said James Walbridge, AIA, Architects Foundation President and co-chair of the jury.

The Richard Morris Hunt Prize (RMHP) has been fostering and supporting cross-cultural professional exchange between France and the United States since 1990. U.S. design professionals study in France, and French design professionals study in the U.S. during alternating years.

Due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, travel is deferred until restrictions have been lifted. The 2020 laureates, who will travel to the United States from France, are also waiting to travel.

Complete details on the Richard Morris Hunt Prize program are available on the Architects Foundation website. Learn more about how to support this important work in sustainability and preservation here.

About the Architects Foundation

As the philanthropic partner of The American Institute of Architects, the Architects Foundation attracts, inspires, and invests in a next-generation design community through scholarships and exhibitions. The Architects Foundation owns the historic Octagon building in the nation’s capital, activating the space to demonstrate the value architects and architecture bring to culture.

About the Amis du Richard Morris Hunt Prize

In 2016, Michèle le Menestrel Ullrich, founder of the Richard Morris Hunt Prize, founded the Amis du Richard Morris Hunt Prize, a French nonprofit organization. The association was created to provide support to the laureates, organize events and increase awareness of the RMHP.

About the French Heritage Society

French Heritage Society is an American nonprofit organization with ten chapters in the U.S. and one in France. Its central mission is to ensure that the treasures of our shared French architectural and cultural heritage survive in order to inspire future generations. Over the past 38 years, FHS has given more than 600 restoration grants to properties throughout France and in the U.S. and selected and supported over 500 students from prestigious universities who have crossed the Atlantic for internships at esteemed institutions.

About AIA

Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing.

AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.


David Adjaye, Forensic Architecture and Daniel Libeskind donate works to support black women in architecture school

David Adjaye‘s gold sketch of multifaith complex The Abrahamic Family House and Mark Foster Gage‘s satirical plan for a Trump presidential library are among works for sale in an auction fundraising to support black women in architecture school.

Organised by architectural initiative ARCH, the auction launches today and will run for one week to raise funds for a scholarship programme for black women.

“To tackle systemic racism in the field of architecture and design, we need to make studying these subjects more accessible to aspiring black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) architects, who have historically been underrepresented and under-supported,” said ARCH, which stands for Architecture for Change.

Read more on Dezeen >

The 2021-2022 Payette Sho-Ping Chin Memorial Academic Scholarship

We’re incredibly proud to offer this scholarship as a way to honor Sho-Ping’s legacy and mentor future architects. Sho-Ping was a wonderful mentor and the impact of her work at our firm and in the profession is still felt today. I’m always inspired by the applicants and am thrilled we’re able to offer this opportunity.


Architect’s anonymous donation inspires

Giving Tuesday campaign

Despite some gains, ethnically diverse individuals are still significantly underrepresented in architecture. Expanding the profession’s outreach and support to the next generation is one of the most urgent and important steps we can take to provide underrepresented students and communities the opportunities they deserve to develop their talents.

Architects are stepping up to make a difference – including a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous. A FAIA Emeritus, this benefactor worked with the Architects Foundation earlier this year to identify the best way to make an impact. Based on that research, he is now donating $15,000 to each of five university programs.

And his story is just as inspiring as his financial contribution.

Here is his message to AIA members, in his own words:

Early this year, when I was 91 years old, one of my best friends, also 91, died and left me a young fortune. Really! For the first time in my life I was in a position to do something that might make the world a better place.  Maybe not the world, but at least make the profession of architecture a notch more accessible for high school architectural aspirants and freshman African American architectural students.  

Architectural college graduates know that with their degree also comes a key to a better quality of life for their families and for themselves.  And yet in the last 70 years, the percentage of African Americans entering architectural colleges has risen from less than 1% to only 5%. Because BLACK LIVES DO MATTER, I decided to find the individuals who are in the best position to reverse these percentages and take appropriate actions.

My first step was to request help from the national AIA office in locating an individual who was well-informed regarding current architectural colleges. AIA fortunately pointed me to the Architects Foundation. Together, we decided no one would be better informed on the needs of these incoming students than the deans of the architectural colleges. After some basic research, we arbitrarily selected five notable colleges from across the country.  After speaking by phone to each dean individually they were asked these same three questions:

1. In the recent past, what has your college done to promote diversity for African Americans on campus?

2. Currently, what are you doing to advance African American diversity on campus?

3. If the college gave you, personally, a financial grant to advance diversity for high school architectural aspirants and freshman African American architectural students, how would you utilize the grant?

The deans’ answers to these questions provided a wealth of information on ways to assist African American students as they join the architectural profession.

Our greatest hope is that other professions will see the opportunities made available by our profession and follow our lead!

The Architects Foundation was grateful to facilitate this emeritus member’s kind contribution.

It’s exactly the kind of informed, targeted support AIA is working to expand as we enhance our efforts to help students overcome barriers to education and advancement.

“This emeritus member demonstrates the true meaning of the term ‘citizen architect,’ and I’d like to express AIA’s gratitude on behalf our members,” said AIA 2020 President Jane Frederick, FAIA. “His thoughtful involvement and generosity as a retired member show that, no matter where architects are in our careers, we can make a difference.”

“The Architects Foundation has been awarding the Diversity Advancement Scholarship since 1970, but there is still much work to do,” said Architects Foundation President James Walbridge, AIA. “We were happy to help this emeritus member put his personal plan into action. Our approach is just one of many tools needed to make a difference.”

Efforts this year include surveying deans at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to identify needs; distributing $12,000 each to seven NAAB-accredited programs housed at HBCUs; and launching a campaign through the Architects Foundation to support the Diversity Advancement Scholarship. A multiyear award that supports ethnically diverse undergraduates studying architecture with up to $20,000, the Diversity Advancement Scholarship is a critical tool.

AIA members have contributed $156,283 so far this year, and through our Giving Tuesday campaign, the Architects Foundation is inviting 20,000 AIA members to donate $20 or more in 2020.

Not all of us have the ability to match the anonymous supporter’s $75,000 donation. But by giving what we can, we can make a difference – for the next generation of deserving students, and for the future of the architecture profession.

Build a brighter future for architects by donating here.

A letter from AF President James Walbridge, AIA

2020: For most us, the most transformational year of our lives. Everything has changed across all boundaries and all borders. Nothing will be the same; changes are occurring at a dizzying pace.

While the complete disruption of our lives has taken its toll, the Architects Foundation finds itself in a unique position – our purpose could not be more relevant than it is right now. The tragedy of George Floyd and many others after has cemented clearly upon us that 401 years of systemic racism and structural inequality cannot be “unseen” anymore. We are all on a new journey together, with compassion and empathy our shepherds, to make real societal change.

We are grateful for our relationship with The American Institute of Architects. While our voices are unique to our respective missions, together we are even more courageous to forge a path we know is right.

Our Architects Foundation board and staff are united, resolute and committed to being bold. We understand where we have been and where we need to be, and we have much to do. Our charge is clear, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) is our watchword. Our actions will be precise and focused as we continue to broaden our scholarships and magnify our fundraising efforts. The Octagon has evolved in its delegation and will serve as both teacher and convener. Its history will be told with transparency and radical candor to learn from its past and support an expanded conversation for the future of the profession.

Our scholars are at the center of the Foundation’s narrative. Their collective voices are the engine placing us in the forefront of possibilities – they are the future. We aspire to be the social proof needed in this new discourse, leading by example and action, to bring about the change we cannot delay any longer.

We thank you for your continued support and invite you to join us as we create a culture of philanthropy for the future.

Society’s Cage Installation Opens on the National Mall

Washington, DC – Today the Society’s Cage interpretive installation opens to the public on the National Mall in Washington, DC. SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading integrated design firms, is the lead sponsor for the project, initiated by a diverse team of designers in their Washington, DC office. The installation’s opening is timed to coincide with the March on Washington, organized by the National Action Network, happening today.

“We were inspired to create the installation following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” explains Dayton Schroeter, lead designer and a principal at SmithGroup. “The pavilion is a real and raw reflection of the conversations about racism happening now. It’s a physical manifestation of the institutional structures that have undermined the progress of Black Americans over the history of this country.”

The designers intend for the installation to place the recent victims killed by police in the context of the 400+ year continuum of racialized state violence in the United States. Weathered steel bars hanging from a steel plate ceiling form a perfect cube atop a raised 15-foot square platform, encircled with educational content around its base. Historical data for four primary institutional forces of racism are expressed on the cube’s perimeter and triangulated within the interior, carving a void into which visitors can enter. Within this void the visitor experiences clashing senses, feeling both the figurative weight of oppression from the bars around and above them, while also being enveloped in an open-air sanctuary for reflection.

“The name Society’s Cage refers to the societal constraints that limit the prosperity of the Black community,” says Julian Arrington, who led the design with Schroeter, and is an architectural designer at SmithGroup. “The pavilion creates an experience to help visitors understand and acknowledge these impacts of racism and be moved to create change.”

Visitors are encouraged to participate in a shared experience upon entering the pavilion. After holding their breath for as long as they can, evoking the common plea among victims of police killings, “I can’t breathe,” visitors then post a video reflection of their experience on social media using the hashtag #SocietysCage. This exercise is meant not only to build empathy but expand the installation’s impact online to allow anyone to participate in this shared exercise.

The pavilion was fabricated by Gronning Design + Manufacturing LLC in Washington, DC, and Mejia Ironworks in Hyattsville, Maryland. A soundscape was commissioned from a pair of composers, Raney Antoine, Jr. and Lovell “U-P” Cooper. Comprised of four pieces, each 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length in recognition of the time George Floyd suffered under the knee of police, they are themed to reflect each of the four institutional forces that sculpted the pavilion’s interior (mass incarceration, police terrorism, capital punishment and racist lynchings).

SmithGroup has partnered with the Architects Foundation to raise funds for their Diversity Advancement scholarship program through the installation.

“The tragedies of George Floyd and many others have cemented clearly upon us that centuries of systemic racism and structural inequality cannot be ‘unseen’ anymore,” said James Walbridge, AIA, Foundation President. “We are all on a new journey together, with compassion and empathy as our shepherds, to make real societal change. Society’s Cage is a timely partnership for us.”

Corporate sponsors include Advanced Thermal Solutions, LLCBonstra|Haresign ArchitectsD|Watts Construction, LLCHerrero BuildersKohler; and The Center for Racial Equity and Justice. In-kind donors include Silman and Alan Karchmer Photography. Over 150 individuals have also contributed financial support to the project. Donations continue to be accepted through the Architects Foundation’s portal.

The pavilion will remain on display until September 12, 2020, and then is intended to be exhibited in a new location in the Washington metro region, and eventually tour to other cities across the country.

The Architects Foundation ( leads philanthropic efforts to attract, inspire, and invest in a next-generation design community through scholarships and exhibitions. The Architects Foundation owns the historic Octagon building in the nation’s capital, activating the space to demonstrate the value architects and architecture bring to culture.

SmithGroup ( is one of the world’s preeminent integrated design firms. Working across a network of 15 offices in the U.S. and China, a team of 1,300 experts is committed to excellence in strategy, design, and delivery. The scale of the firm’s thinking and organization produces partnerships with forward-looking clients that maximize opportunities, minimize risk and solve their most complex problems. SmithGroup creates exceptional design solutions for healthcare, science and technology organizations, higher education and cultural institutions, urban environments, diverse workplaces, mixed-use and waterfront developments, and parks and open spaces.

The Unbuilt Crosby Arboretum and the Legacy of E. Fay Jones

This virtual discussion explores the work by Hans Herrmann, AIA and students to create physical and virtual reality models of four unrealized E. Fay Jones buildings at the Crosby Arboretum, buildings intended to accompany the iconic Pinecote Pavilion completed in 1985.

The Unbuilt Crosby Arboretum is the only known E. Fay Jones multi-building composition/campus. Robert Ivy, FAIA, AIA CEO and biographer on E. Fay Jones highlights how Jones’ work is deeply rooted to place and nature. Jones received the AIA Gold Medal in 1990, the Institute’s highest honor.

Watch the panel >

Hans C. Herrmann, AIA, LEED Green Assoc., NCARB, Associate Professor of Architecture at Mississippi State University

Robert A. Ivy, FAIA, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)

George Smart, founder of and host of USModernist Radio