Meet the 2024 Design Award Jury

The annual AIA Colorado Design + Honor Awards are upon us, and we’re pleased to introduce the 2024 jury below. Reminder, the deadline to submit is Friday, May 17th, at 5pm.

Design AwardsSubmission Instructions

Honor AwardsSubmission Instructions

Jury Chair

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, is the founding partner of Marlon Blackwell Architects (MBA) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the E. Fay Jones Distinguished Professor at the University of Arkansas, and the Spring 2024 John Portman Chair at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Blackwell is the recipient of the 2020 AIA Gold Medal, the Institute’s highest honor recognizing those whose work has had an enduring impact on the theory and practice of architecture. Blackwell is a lifetime member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2023 inductee of the American Academy of Arts and Science, a 2019 Resident Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a 2014 United States Artists Ford Fellow. Work produced in his professional office, MBA, has received recognition with significant publication and more than 180 design awards including the 2016 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture. A monograph of Marlon’s early work, “An Architecture of the Ozarks: The Works of Marlon Blackwell”, was published in 2005 and a new monograph titled “Radical Practice”, was published in 2022.

Nicole Hilton, AIA

Nicole is the founding principal and design architect at Cole Hil, an emerging full-service architectural design firm focused on education, community development, and commercial project types. She has been honored for a multitude of professional awards including being recognized as the Louisiana State University’s first licensed African American female Architect. Nicole has found her passion in continuing the competitive evolution of the architectural profession in relevance, creativity and financial wellness. She demonstrates Equity, and looks forward to evolving her architectural practices and leadership.

Chad Oppenheim, FAIA

Chad Oppenheim founded Oppenheim Architecture in 1999 to design a new kind of sensory, site-specific architecture. Working across scale, typology, and geography, every Oppenheim project is a sensitive contextual response guided by the philosophy that design follows life and form follows feeling.

A graduate of Cornell University and a Fellow of the AIA, Oppenheim has served as lead designer for countless place-making assignments around the world. Working closely with clients to realize and amplify their vision, he is backed by strong technical and project teams in Miami and Basel who execute large and complex projects on any continent.

A traveler and cultural nomad from a young age, Oppenheim uncovers the power of a place to optimize how people live, play, or work in that particular environment. His monumental, timeless architecture enhances lives, realizes a site’s full potential, and protects and celebrates the natural environment. He shapes buildings and places to achieve the optimal balance between creativity and pragmatism, function and experience, construction and aesthetics.

Oppenheim has lectured widely and taught at various architecture schools, including Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and, most recently, Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. He has published two books – Spirit of Place (2018), a monograph about the practice featuring seven award-winning projects, and Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains (2019), an academic investigation into the cultural associations of modernist design with villainy in cinema.
Oppenheim’s international design practice has received over 90 industry awards, with more than 60 from the AIA, including the AIA’s highest distinction, the Silver Medal, as well as a 2018 National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the 2023 American Prize for Architecture from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.

Amber Wirth, AIA

Amber Wirth is the Director of Sustainability at HKS with 20 years of industry experience. She leads the HKS Design Green team of sustainable design leaders working to improve the firm’s environmental impact through design excellence and performance on projects. She believes it is our fundamental responsibility to care for our common home, and the ripple effects of individual acts of service, sustainability, and stewardship. Amber is the founder of HKS’ global Month of Service initiative that encourages employees in every office to connect with their local communities, through which employees have volunteered more than 32,700 hours of service in the past 9 years. Amber is also the chair of the AIA AAH Sustainability Committee working to elevate social and environmental impacts industry wide.

Anosha Zanjani, Assoc. AIA

Anosha Zanjani is the Principal Behavioral Health Consultant and the heart and mind behind Mindful Insights Consulting, a vanguard enterprise dedicated to revolutionizing mental health environments through architectural ingenuity. Her role encompasses design, planning, research, strategy, and assisting clients in developing an overarching vision for creating impactful mental health facilities and healing spaces. She also specializes in integrating mental health and regenerative design principles across a wide array of architectural projects beyond the traditional mental health continuum of care. Her journey into this specialized field is underpinned by extensive experience in psychiatric facilities, academic environments, and private practice. Engaging in clinical research and offering direct support to individuals dealing with severe mental health disorders and neurocognitive conditions has deepened her understanding of the vital role physical spaces play in both recovery and workplace well-being. This realization prompted a career shift toward architecture, fueled by a mission to improve these environments. Her time at HDR’s renowned Healthcare Studio was pivotal, allowing her to contribute to behavioral health projects along the continuum of care and grow her thought leadership in mental health design, workplace well-being and environmental psychology. Her dedication to redefining mental health spaces stems from a firm belief that thoughtfully designed environments can significantly affect the lives of those facing mental health challenges. This belief forms the foundation of Mindful Insights Consulting, reflecting a commitment to promoting healing, supporting recovery, and enhancing well-being through the built environment.


AWARDS COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR

Renée del Gaudio, AIA

Renée del Gaudio is a nationally-recognized architect for her buildings that convey a strong connection to place. Her work has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Dwell, and the Thames & Hudson book Off the Grid: Houses for Escape. She is the recipient of fourteen prestigious American Institute of Architecture Awards, including 2022 AIA National Housing and Small Project Awards.

Renée received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. in Architecture from the University of Washington. In the San Francisco Bay area, she worked with the ecological design firm of Leger Wanaselja Architecture, and the residential and winery design firm of Backen Gillam Architects. Before opening her own practice in 2011, she worked with Semple Brown Design in Denver, Colorado. Renee’s work is also influenced by her design-build work in Cuba, Mexico, and Kenya.

Renée is an active member of the American Institute of Architects, NCARB Certified, and a Registered Architect in Colorado. She has been a juror on numerous architecture and design awards programs, as well as a studio critic at the University of Colorado Department of Environmental Design. She has recently been a lecturer for Colorado Month of Modern, Boulder Women In Design, and the University of Colorado.

AWARDS COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR

Brad Tomecek, FAIA

The founder of Tomecek Studio Architecture, Brad graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Design and Masters of Architecture. He worked in smaller award winning firms in Colorado and Florida before launching the studio in 2003. His work has been featured in Architectural Record, Architect, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, international books and local magazines.

Brad is actively involved with the local AIA and has served on the AIA Denver Board of Directors. His outreach takes the form of speaking nationally on methods and manifestation of meaningful projects. Currently Brad combines full-time practice with intermittent teaching at the University of Colorado College of Architecture and Planning. His explorations blur the boundaries between poetic solutions and innovative building systems. Tomecek Studio is an Architectural Record Next Progressive and has been presented with over 70 design awards including the AIA National Young Architect Award, AIA Colorado Innovative Practice Award & AIA Colorado Young Firm Award. Brad was recently named the 2022 AIA Colorado Architect of the Year and elevated to Fellowship in 2023.

2023 Legislator Awards

AIA Colorado recently presented our 2023 legislators awards to Senator Dylan Roberts as our 2023 Legislator of the Year and Representative Jenny Willford as our 2023 Outstanding New Legislator.

Despite representing very different districts, both Senator Dylan Roberts and Representative Jenny Willford share a number of the same qualities. They are smart. They focus on the needs of their constituents. They have the confidence to take on big issues. They have the courage to cast independent votes. They understand the connection between the built environment and the threat of global warming. AIA Colorado is lucky to work closely with them and have them as champions.

Jerry Johnson, AIA Colorado Lobbyist

2023 Legislator of the Year

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Senator Dylan Roberts, alongside representatives Elizabeth Velasco and Meghan Lukens, graciously agreed to meet with AIA Colorado West Section members in Glenwood Springs this past fall to discuss issues important to the architecture profession such as wildfire mitigation, affordable housing, and climate-related topics as they affect our mountain communities.

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Advocacy Engagement Director Nikolaus Remus, AIA, and our lobbyist, Jerry Johnson, joined our members to present our 2023 Legislator of the Year award to Dylan Roberts in recognition of his successful effort to include architects in the board created via SB23-166: Establishment of a Wildfire Resiliency Code Board. This important bill will better define wildland-urban interface areas in Colorado and the board will determine appropriate codes that buildings within these areas must be designed to.  As introduced, this bill lacked the perspective of an architect who could offer insight on how building codes are applied to projects and how they can effectively be used statewide in areas with varying types of fire risk. While similar to the typical building codes architects use on every project, codes such as the ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Code look more wholistically at building and site design solutions, construction techniques, defensible site maintenance, and fire suppression water supply availability.

2023 Outstanding New Legislator

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Representative Jenny Willford joined our Government Affairs Committee in February to be presented the Outstanding New Legislator Award. We first met Rep. Willford during her campaign in 2022 and were delighted to learn that she strongly supported broader adoption of the latest energy code versions. It’s not common to speak to a candidate who has any familiarity with building codes, but Rep. Willford had experience in both her capacity as a Northglenn city council member and in work she’s done for the Colorado Sierra Club. AIA Colorado supported Rep. Willford’s HB23-1005: New Energy Improvement Program Changes, which expanded the state’s C-PACE energy improvement financing program to apply to more project types. When local jurisdictions opt-in to C-PACE financing, building owners can pay back loans with favorable rates and no upfront costs through their property tax payments. This way, energy improvement projects can be quickly implemented and use new monthly energy-use savings to help pay back the project loan.

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Congratulations again to Senator Dylan Roberts and Representative Jenny Willford! AIA Colorado looks forward to continuing our strong partnership at the state capitol in the years to come.

2023 AIA Colorado Honor Award Recipients

The AIA Colorado Honor Awards recognize the people and teams who are making a difference in the architecture profession and their communities. They’re committed to continually growing as architects, value creating a strong team and recognize the power of architecture in our daily lives. Help us congratulate the 2023 AIA Colorado Design + Honor Award recipients below!

Read the 2023 AIA Colorado Design + Honor Awards Press Release and see all Awards coverage, videos, and projects at aiacolorado.org/awards.

Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door
Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door

2023 Firm of the Year

Anderson Hallas Architects, PC

This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a firm that has produced notable architecture for at least a decade. Award-winning firms have set an example both in design and leadership in the state. Criteria include an outstanding portfolio as a product of the firm’s collaborative environment. Through its work, it has made a significant impact on its community and/or the architecture profession. Demonstrates a commitment to training future architects. Additionally, they exhibit a culture that embraces diversity. Is widely known for the quality of its work, ability to work with clients and collaboration as a team by architects, designers, educators, and the public. They are known for the application of innovative technologies and/or progressive methodologies and developed works to achieve resilient and sustainable design goals.

The Honor Awards jury selected Anderson Hallas Architects, PC for their depth of portfolio, their success on succession, and their family firm culture. Located in the front range of Golden, their work positively impacts communities across the State and the Country. A commitment to historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and environmentally conscious designs are prevalent. As an architect in the community, you get a real sense of their firm culture which is embraced by all. It feels like a place you would want to work and would find purpose in the work. Their successful transition to the next generation lets us know the good work they do will be around for many more years.

Rich Carr | Unfound Door
Rich Car | Unfound Door

2023 Architect of the Year

Rich Carr, AIA

The Architect of the Year recognizes an individual architect who has made significant impact on the profession of architecture in Colorado. The criteria state they have developed a portfolio of notable, creative, and meaningful architecture that has positively impacted Colorado, they have pushed architecture toward the future while also honoring its past, become widely known for the quality of their work by architects, designers, educators, and the public, have advocated for fellow architects and advanced the community through their service and leadership, and have helped to address current issues in Colorado by using their expertise as a design professional.

This year, the Honor Awards jury is pleased to award Rich Carr, AIA, CCY Architects, as 2023’s AIA Colorado Architect of the Year. With a practice physically located in the Roaring Fork Valley, Rich’s work and commitment to regional vernaculars grounds his designs with a modern edge. However, his body of projects extend far beyond the state lines and enhances the list of incredible architects Colorado is recognized for. 

Rebekah Wagoner | Unfound Door
Rebekah Wagoner | Unfound Door

2023 Young Architect of the Year

Rebekah Wagoner, AIA

The Young Architect Award recognizes the individual achievements of a young architect licensed to practice architecture fewer than 10 years. This individual will have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their career. 

This year, the Honor Awards jury is pleased to present the award to Rebekah Wagoner, AIA, Gensler.

The jury was challenged with a number of excellent submissions and Rebekah’s submittal rose to the top for a number of reasons. Her commitment to supporting and enhancing work-life success for professionals. She has earned the respect and admiration of her peers and industry leaders for her impeccable professional acumen, a testament to her expertise and skills.

Additionally, Rebekah’s ability to recognize the historic context and incorporate it into the creation of meaningful architecture showcased her deep understanding and appreciation of the field.

Lastly, her contributions to the aspiring architectural community through educational and evaluation activities demonstrated her commitment to nurturing the next generation of architects.

Colorado Green Building Guild | Unfound Door
Colorado Green Building Guild | Unfound Door

2023 Impact Award

Colorado Green Building Guild

The Impact Award which recognizes a group or organization in Colorado that has made a positive impact on Colorado communities and significantly contributed to the advancement of architecture and/or enhanced the role of practitioners.

This year, the Colorado Green Building Guild was chosen as the first ever recipient for its promotion of green building and specifically the organization’s role in helping to make resources easily accessible to designers, builders, and owners throughout the region. 

The Colorado Green Building Guild is a non-profit trade organization representing a wide range of green building leaders, and serving the community at large by making green building common practice and accessible to all. CGBG strives to ensure the widespread adoption of sustainable practices to increase the efficient use of resources, create healthier buildings, and support vibrant, sustainable communities throughout all of Colorado! 

The Honor Awards jury were especially impressed by the dedication of their volunteer members. They organize monthly seminars, workshops, and tours for a very broad audience that includes the professionals in the design industry, builders, manufacturers, students, home and business owners, green technology specialists, and more. Their events provide a platform for the general public to not only to share knowledge on sustainable design technology, but also to connect with one another and build community around green building. 

Particularly after the Marshall Fire, the Colorado Green Building Guild made significant positive impact by providing resources to homeowners as they began their rebuild process.

Stephanie Bingham | Unfound Door
Stephanie Bingham | Unfound Door

2023 President’s Award

Stephanie Bingham

The President’s Award recognizes a community member in Colorado who has significantly contributed to the advancement of architecture from a vantage point outside of a firm or a traditional practice career. 

This year, we’re pleased to recognize Stephanie Bingham, HMH Architecture + Interiors, with this honor. Due to her talent, motivation, and civic spirit, not to mention her unique skill set that spans marketing, she has utilized her graphic design talents and research to elevate the awareness and appreciation of not just architecture – but excellent architecture. 

Stephanie is known by her decade’s long advocacy and continued evolution of architectural dialogue through efforts she co-led and/or co-created, that includes self-guided tours of Mid-Century Modern marvels, Month of Modern, and serving on the board of Historic Boulder

Cheri Gerou | Unfound Door
Cheri Gerou | Unfound Door

2023 Distinguished Achievement Award

Cheri Gerou, FAIA

Cheri Gerou, FAIA was named State Architect in October of 2019 and has just completed her tenure in that role. It would be quite an understatement to say her time in office was eventful.

Just months into her role, COVID emerged as a pandemic which no one could have prepared for. In a matter of weeks, Cheri’s team constructed five acute care field hospitals in Denver, Grand Junction, Loveland, Pueblo and Westminster. They responded to new state statutes on climate impact and building performance, writing the rules with little additional support or headcount. They identified state owned assets to redeploy for workforce housing and still managed to present budgets to the legislature, work with user agencies, and improve processes and workflows for industry partners to keep the vertical infrastructure of our state in good working order.

Public service has been a hallmark of her career and this is just a capstone, having served in the state legislature and at the University of Colorado.

For all you have done, Cheri, we thank you and are pleased to present you with the Distinguished Achievement Award. 

Cheri’s esteemed predecessor Larry Friedberg, FAIA aptly summed it up by saying that Cheri is “a force of nature and an outstanding champion of the profession, and the AIA, while serving in the legislature and state government.”

We heartily agree.

Jerry Johnson | Unfound Door
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2023 Distinguished Service Award

Jerry Johnson

This year, we are delighted to honor Jerry Johnson with the Distinguished Service Award. For the past 40 years, he has been our voice and our friend at the state capitol and has demonstrated remarkable service to all Colorado architects.

2023 marked the 40th session of the Colorado General Assembly where Jerry Johnson was the architects advocate. Amazing, right? In those forty years, he has defended us against immeasurable harm and opened the doors to dozens of new laws from architects for a better built environment and practice climate. Jerry is beloved by the University of Colorado, a great motivator, a brilliant tactician, a person who makes people believe, has an incredible record of victories for his team, and will face even stronger adversaries in the upcoming season.

Jerry continues to be a valuable resource to Colorado architects as we seek smooth passage of the Architecture Practice Act in the next session. It’s because we have teammates such as Jerry that we know our profession and our practices are in good care for the years ahead.

Here is a small selection of quotes from those who have been inspired by Jerry over the years: 

Kevin Eronimous, AIA: 

“Whether it’s a legislative report, an intro to a new legislator, or a recap of the latest recruiting prospects for CU, Jerry brings careful thought and genuine passion to all that he does. His insightful fostering of meaningful relations has served our profession (and our legislators) incredibly well, creating a foundation of mutual trust and respect for everyone at the table.”

T J Carvis, AIA: 

“In the small fraction of the 40 years that I’ve gotten to know Jerry, he’s made a lasting impression on me. His jovial personality and willingness to go the extra mile offer a refreshing perspective in what can often be a tumultuous political environment. He has an incredible knowledge of the issues, both past and present, and seems to know everyone in the state legislature. Colorado architects could not have had a better ally at the Capitol!”

Mike Wisnesk, AIA: 

“Jerry is the consummate gentleman and happens to be a lobbyist, oftentimes more despised and vilified than a politician. He is honest, trustworthy, reliable, pretty much every quality one would find in an Eagle Scout. 

He taught me that in Colorado, politics is not a dirty word. That our citizen legislators have real jobs, and are real people, and simply want to make the best decision about an issue. He taught me that a cup of coffee or a simple, honest phone call to my legislator is much more valuable than an e-mail. This is advice I still use today. 

I first met Jerry to review very large stacks of printed bills, then meet to discuss how they affected our profession. Years later it dawned on me that he wasn’t teaching me how to read bills, he was showing me how to be a better citizen and be engaged with our legislative process. 

Jerry, I love you for who you are and how you have made our small world in Colorado better!” 

Mary Follenweider, FAIA: 

“As a Colorado growth management bill was heard in Legislative Committee, Jerry said: It creates visibility for AIA Colorado as a leader on the subject…with the ultimate outcome that Legislators see architects as a “player.” This is our Jerry Johnson, Hon. AIACO., who has always supported architects as influencers, engagers and subject matter experts. Thank you, Jerry, for your stalwart belief in us.”

Phil Gerou, AIA: 

“In 1983, when D. A. Bertram and I interviewed potential lobbyists to represent AIA Colorado, we knew we had the right candidate to represent us. We could not possibly have foreseen the extraordinary decades of collaboration and lobbying excellence that followed. AIA Colorado has been blessed with Jerry’s guidance, knowledge, intuition, and good humor for longer than we ever anticipated. Thank you, Jerry. It’s been an honor to work with you as a professional and to know you as a great friend.”

Marvin Sparn, FAIA:

“Facing the uncertain prospect of a practice act sunset, the AIA Colorado Government Affairs Committee decided that they needed help. As a founding member of the Committee, I solicited recommendations from personal lobbyist friends on who might be helpful to AIA Colorado – Jerry was highly recommended. 

Hiring Jerry far outlasted my presidency and is one of the best moves the Committee ever.”

Read the 2023 AIA Colorado Design + Honor Awards Press Release and see all Awards coverage, videos, and projects at aiacolorado.org/awards.

President’s Award | Unfound Door
Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door

2023 Firm of the Year • Anderson Hallas Architects, PC

Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door
Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door

This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a firm that has produced notable architecture for at least a decade. Award-winning firms have set an example both in design and leadership in the state. Criteria include an outstanding portfolio as a product of the firm’s collaborative environment. Through its work, it has made a significant impact on its community and/or the architecture profession. Demonstrates a commitment to training future architects. Additionally, they exhibit a culture that embraces diversity. Is widely known for the quality of its work, ability to work with clients and collaboration as a team by architects, designers, educators, and the public. They are known for the application of innovative technologies and/or progressive methodologies and developed works to achieve resilient and sustainable design goals.

The Honor Awards jury selected Anderson Hallas Architects, PC for their depth of portfolio, their success on succession, and their family firm culture. Located in the front range of Golden, their work positively impacts communities across the State and the Country. A commitment to historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and environmentally conscious designs are prevalent. As an architect in the community, you get a real sense of their firm culture which is embraced by all. It feels like a place you would want to work and would find purpose in the work. Their successful transition to the next generation lets us know the good work they do will be around for many more years.

Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door
Anderson Hallas Architects | Unfound Door

2023 Architect of the Year • Rich Carr, AIA

Rich Carr | Unfound Door
Rich Car | Unfound Door

The Architect of the Year recognizes an individual architect who has made significant impact on the profession of architecture in Colorado. The criteria state they have developed a portfolio of notable, creative, and meaningful architecture that has positively impacted Colorado, they have pushed architecture toward the future while also honoring its past, become widely known for the quality of their work by architects, designers, educators, and the public, have advocated for fellow architects and advanced the community through their service and leadership, and have helped to address current issues in Colorado by using their expertise as a design professional.

This year, the Honor Awards jury is pleased to award Rich Carr, AIA, CCY Architects, as 2023’s AIA Colorado Architect of the Year. With a practice physically located in the Roaring Fork Valley, Rich’s work and commitment to regional vernaculars grounds his designs with a modern edge. However, his body of projects extend far beyond the state lines and enhances the list of incredible architects Colorado is recognized for. 

Rich Car & CCY Architects | Unfound Door
Rich Carr | Unfound Door

2023 Young Architect of the Year • Rebekah Wagoner, AIA

Rebekah Wagoner | Unfound Door
Rebekah Wagoner | Unfound Door

The AIA Colorado Young Architect Award recognizes the individual achievements of a young architect licensed to practice architecture fewer than 10 years. This individual will have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their career. 

This year, the Honor Awards jury is pleased to present the award to Rebekah Wagoner, AIA, Gensler.

The jury was challenged with a number of excellent submissions and Rebekah’s submittal rose to the top for a number of reasons. Her commitment to supporting and enhancing work-life success for professionals. She has earned the respect and admiration of her peers and industry leaders for her impeccable professional acumen, a testament to her expertise and skills.

Additionally, Rebekah’s ability to recognize the historic context and incorporate it into the creation of meaningful architecture showcased her deep understanding and appreciation of the field.

Lastly, her contributions to the aspiring architectural community through educational and evaluation activities demonstrated her commitment to nurturing the next generation of architects.

Rebekah Wagoner | Unfound Door
Rebekah Wagoner | Unfound Door

2023 President’s Award • Stephanie Bingham

Stephanie Bingham | Unfound Door
Stephanie Bingham | Unfound Door

The President’s Award recognizes a community member in Colorado who has significantly contributed to the advancement of architecture from a vantage point outside of a firm or a traditional practice career. 

This year, we’re pleased to recognize Stephanie Bingham with this honor, due to her talent, motivation, and civic spirit, not to mention her unique skill set that spans marketing, graphic design, and research to elevate the awareness and appreciation of not just architecture – but excellent architecture. 

Stephanie is known by her decade’s long advocacy and continued evolution of architectural dialogue through efforts she co-led and/or co-created, that includes self-guided tours of Mid-Century Modern marvels, Month of Modern, and serving on the board of Historic Boulder

2023 Distinguished Service Award • Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson | Unfound Door
Cheri Gerou & Jerry Johnson | Unfound Door

This year, we are delighted to honor Jerry Johnson with the Distinguished Service Award. For the past 40 years, he has been our voice and our friend at the state capitol and has demonstrated remarkable service to all Colorado architects.

2023 marked the 40th session of the Colorado General Assembly where Jerry Johnson was the architects advocate. Amazing, right? In those forty years, he has defended us against immeasurable harm and opened the doors to dozens of new laws from architects for a better built environment and practice climate. Jerry is beloved by the University of Colorado, a great motivator, a brilliant tactician, a person who makes people believe, has an incredible record of victories for his team, and will face even stronger adversaries in the upcoming season.

Jerry continues to be a valuable resource to Colorado architects as we seek smooth passage of the Architecture Practice Act in the next session. It’s because we have teammates such as Jerry that we know our profession and our practices are in good care for the years ahead.

Here is a small selection of quotes from those who have been inspired by Jerry over the years: 

Kevin Eronimous, AIA: 

Whether it’s a legislative report, an intro to a new legislator, or a recap of the latest recruiting prospects for CU, Jerry brings careful thought and genuine passion to all that he does. His insightful fostering of meaningful relations has served our profession (and our legislators) incredibly well, creating a foundation of mutual trust and respect for everyone at the table. 

T J Carvis, AIA: 

In the small fraction of the 40 years that I’ve gotten to know Jerry, he’s made a lasting impression on me. His jovial personality and willingness to go the extra mile offer a refreshing perspective in what can often be a tumultuous political environment. He has an incredible knowledge of the issues, both past and present, and seems to know everyone in the state legislature. Colorado architects could not have had a better ally at the Capitol! 

Mike Wisnesk, AIA: 

Jerry is the consummate gentleman and happens to be a lobbyist, oftentimes more despised and vilified than a politician. He is honest, trustworthy, reliable, pretty much every quality one would find in an Eagle Scout. 

He taught me that in Colorado, politics is not a dirty word. That our citizen legislators have real jobs, and are real people, and simply want to make the best decision about an issue. He taught me that a cup of coffee or a simple, honest phone call to my legislator is much more valuable than an e-mail. This is advice I still use today. 

I first met Jerry to review very large stacks of printed bills, then meet to discuss how they affected our profession. Years later it dawned on me that he wasn’t teaching me how to read bills, he was showing me how to be a better citizen and be engaged with our legislative process. 

Jerry, I love you for who you are and how you have made our small world in Colorado better! 

Mary Follenweider, FAIA: 

As a Colorado growth management bill was heard in Legislative Committee, Jerry said: It creates visibility for AIA Colorado as a leader on the subject…with the ultimate outcome that Legislators see architects as a “player.” This is our Jerry Johnson, Hon. AIACO., who has always supported architects as influencers, engagers and subject matter experts. Thank you, Jerry, for your stalwart belief in us. 

Phil Gerou, AIA: 

In 1983, when D. A. Bertram and I interviewed potential lobbyists to represent AIA Colorado, we knew we had the right candidate to represent us. We could not possibly have foreseen the extraordinary decades of collaboration and lobbying excellence that followed. AIA Colorado has been blessed with Jerry’s guidance, knowledge, intuition, and good humor for longer than we ever anticipated. Thank you, Jerry. It’s been an honor to work with you as a professional and to know you as a great friend. 

Marvin Sparn, FAIA:

Facing the uncertain prospect of a practice act sunset, the AIA Colorado Government Affairs Committee decided that they needed help. As a founding member of the Committee, I solicited recommendations from personal lobbyist friends on who might be helpful to AIA Colorado – Jerry was highly recommended. 

Hiring Jerry far outlasted my presidency and is one of the best moves the Committee ever made. 

Thank you, Jerry!

2023 Distinguished Achievement Award • Cheri Gerou

Cheri Gerou | Unfound Door
Cheri Gerou & Jerry Johnson | Unfound Door

Cheri Gerou was named State Architect in October of 2019 and has just completed her tenure in that role. It would be quite an understatement to say her time in office was eventful.

Just months into her role, COVID emerged as a pandemic which no one could have prepared for. In a matter of weeks, Cheri’s team constructed five acute care field hospitals in Denver, Grand Junction, Loveland, Pueblo and Westminster. They responded to new state statutes on climate impact and building performance, writing the rules with little additional support or headcount. They identified state owned assets to redeploy for workforce housing and still managed to present budgets to the legislature, work with user agencies, and improve processes and workflows for industry partners to keep the vertical infrastructure of our state in good working order.

Public service has been a hallmark of her career and this is just a capstone, having served in the state legislature and at the University of Colorado.

For all you have done, Cheri, we thank you and are pleased to present you with the Distinguished Achievement Award. 

Cheri’s esteemed predecessor Larry Friedberg, FAIA aptly summed it up by saying that Cheri is “a force of nature and an outstanding champion of the profession, and the AIA, while serving in the legislature and state government.”

We heartily agree.

Thank you, Cheri!

2023 Impact Award • Colorado Green Building Guild

Colorado Green Building Guild | Unfound Door
Colorado Green Building Guild | Unfound Door

The AIA Colorado Impact Award which recognizes a group or organization in Colorado that has made a positive impact on Colorado communities and significantly contributed to the advancement of architecture and/or enhanced the role of practitioners.

This year, the Colorado Green Building Guild was chosen as the first ever recipient for its promotion of green building and specifically the organization’s role in helping to make resources easily accessible to designers, builders, and owners throughout the region. 

The Colorado Green Building Guild is a non-profit trade organization representing a wide range of green building leaders, and serving the community at large by making green building common practice and accessible to all. CGBG strives to ensure the widespread adoption of sustainable practices to increase the efficient use of resources, create healthier buildings, and support vibrant, sustainable communities throughout all of Colorado! 

The Honor Awards jury were especially impressed by the dedication of their volunteer members. They organize monthly seminars, workshops, and tours for a very broad audience that includes the professionals in the design industry, builders, manufacturers, students, home and business owners, green technology specialists, and more. Their events provide a platform for the general public to not only to share knowledge on sustainable design technology, but also to connect with one another and build community around green building. 

Particularly after the Marshall Fire, the Colorado Green Building Guild made significant positive impact by providing resources to homeowners as they began their rebuild process.

Colorado Green Building Guild | Unfound Door
Colorado Green Building Guild | Unfound Door
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