One Question Series: Part 2, Breaking Down Barriers

What happens when you ask the same question to five designers with five different backgrounds? You get five very different answers that will put you in someone else’s shoes. From firm principals to emerging professionals, we’re diving in to better understand—and share—others’ personal perspectives. This is the second installment of the new monthly series—“One Question”—produced by our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Committee. 

In partnership with the Colorado Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, we invite you to see through the lenses of five different practitioners to learn how their unique backgrounds shape experiences in the firm and their approaches to design.

How can we as a profession break down barriers for minorities in architecture?

Kari Lawson, Assoc. AIA
AIA Colorado Associate Director
Designer, TreanorHL

“We can always improve our ability to empathize with people from different backgrounds. A passion for architecture can begin at any time with any one person, and it is critical to value that perspective. It is also necessary to recognize that architecture is an important humanistic undertaking that affects the destiny of all.

Architecture often feels elitist whereas the quality of a designer is determined by their schooling and their professional network. Not every person has the resources and guidance to make it all the way to the finish line and often this disadvantage falls onto minorities. Meeting people where they are and fostering encouraging environments is hugely important. This country has a strong foothold in systematic segregation practices which has major impacts on access to education. Developing robust institutional partnerships within minority communities can help bridge this gap. We can improve the accessibility of our profession by tailoring support to include reducing inequalities of participation, bolstering scholarships, and establishing visibility of equal representation. Mentorship can be as simple as a conversation and there is a strong need for access/investment. Volunteering our time and knowledge to these communities can change the demographics of the architecture profession profoundly.

Recruitment incentives and bias practices have also had an overwhelming impact on architecture. The unpaid or non-livable wage internship can be a barrier of access for minority communities without the appropriate support systems. Poor advising has also affected who can and who cannot be a part of this occupation. A diverse profession requires professionals to become more aware of how attitudes and beliefs may stigmatize others and impact recruitment. Being intentional and conscious about the words and phrases used on the daily are also an important factor for fostering a diverse environment.

Another obstacle to overcome is avoiding the glass cliff, but first we must lay the groundwork for success. We are approaching a moment beyond the glass ceiling where more diverse and minority candidates are entering the field. The glass cliff is when these candidates are more likely to be pressed into leadership roles with high risks for failure without a secure support system or foundation. Strategic hiring of minorities during a firm’s crisis can be interpreted as exploitation. High expectations can induce an exaggeration of error which places significantly underrepresented minorities at a larger disadvantage compared to their peers. A lack of achievement may manifest into further bias in the future hiring of minorities and could create —or exacerbate— a toxic culture. It is important to build equitable relationships to promote an inclusive workplace from within so that the strategy for positioning is well thought out and genuine.

I understand that there is no one solution to the complicated problem of integration within our profession. We can approach diversity improvement by examining the tiers of education, recruitment, and professional advancement. Improving representation in the industry will ultimately yield better access to design with a rise in innovative and unique perspectives.”

Victor Gonzalez, Assoc. AIA, NOMA
AIA Colorado J.E.D.I. Committee Member + Editorial Representative
Davis Partnership Architects

“I believe that in order to start breaking down barriers for minorities in architecture we need to focus on education.

The first step in breaking down barriers for minorities in architecture is the acknowledgment and conversation of how systemic racism is present in the built environment and the profession. This step should be taken in the early phases of education and must be acknowledged throughout our architectural post-secondary education. Acknowledging how this issue is apparent in our industry helps provide some clarity on how systemic racism throughout architecture has affected minorities in the past and present. What this approach also accomplishes is a step towards combating the unconscious bias that transpires throughout professional practice towards minorities.

The issue of systemic racism and how it is apparent throughout architecture is not analyzed enough to make any progress towards a more inclusive profession. For that same reason it is the primary cause for why minorities in this profession continue to face the same barriers generation after generation. Having these difficult and uncomfortable conversations should not be looked over but be conducted in order to make any significant progress for minorities.”

Wells Squier, AIA
AIA Colorado President
Principal, Anderson Hallas Architects

“It is my opinion that diversity of experiences and perspectives contributes to better design. As a profession we must encourage and support more diversity to help us all address and respond in meaningful and effective ways to the unique challenges we are facing with regard to climate action and societal inequities that persist. I believe for all of us who care about our profession and its ongoing legacy, the future we will continue to define must consciously think about how to break down barriers wherever and however possible. We need a movement of change, where we all recognize the problem, commit to actions we can control, and affect measurable improvement. I also recognize the challenges and ambiguity of this statement. I believe this will need to happen on many different levels and scales.

We need to continue to recognize and celebrate the achievements of minority architects and expose minority youth to these achievements. We need to tell the stories of minority architects like Paul Revere Williams, Loise Harris Brown, Philip Freelon, and many others who persevered to achieve success in our profession, despite the many obstacles and challenges they faced. We must inspire more youth to follow in these footsteps, while seeking out ways to instill from a young age that the pursuit of architecture is an achievable path for them. For me, along with many others in the Denver architecture community, this has included volunteer work with elementary school aged kids where we introduce them to the profession of architecture and help them realize that this is an achievable aspiration for them.

As I discussed in my response to last month’s question, I was inspired to pursue architecture from a young age due to exposure, and I never wavered in my own focus to achieve that goal. How can we collectively help inspire younger people who otherwise might not have the exposure to our profession from a young age? How do we create these opportunities for inspiration? I believe the answer (or at least a significant part of the answer) to this month’s question must include a broader discussion of how we as professionals can connect with minority youth to inspire, challenge, and support them from an early age. I also believe this is a responsibility of all of us who are passionate about our profession and who have the opportunity to open doors for others within our practices.”

Patricia Joseph, AIA, NOMA
Project Designer at Cuningham
President-Elect of NOMA Colorado
Lecturer, CU Denver College of Architecture & Planning

“As a profession, we break down barriers for minorities in architecture when we all, individually, engage in doing so. We as designers of the built environment need to stand up for what we believe is right, especially in the workplace where it is easy to hide behind company decisions. It takes consistent, persistent change to break down the barriers that have defined our practice and have held back minorities for so long. Yes, many barriers still exist and are being created, from systemic to targeted levels, and the individual can make those types of barriers thrive. We all have a voice, whether it is for this mission or inadvertently for something else, and we should employ it for the sake of others. We need allies who can remain honest to their dedication to change and to practicing the change that will allow minorities to overcome. We cannot waiver when our commitment to making equitable spaces is tested. We cannot waiver when a new policy in our office only works for the majority, when a POC interviewing for a new position does not make “the culture fit,” or when we forget our colleague’s pronouns again. If we all follow through with the subtle, delicate parts of breaking these barriers down, we will change the profession of architecture for everyone.

On a firm level, there are many things we can do. We can commit to creating transparent promotion processes, sponsor minorities financially for career-building opportunities outside of our minority networks, and actually pay our employees for the time needed to participate in initiatives being put in place to change this profession. When it comes time to support your community through outreach, like NOMA’s Project Pipeline, play an active role in organizing, and be there to patch the holes in the pipeline. As a profession, we can be accountable to our organizations when we are following through or not, no matter what level of leadership or years of experience.

We will break down barriers when we stop putting them up. It is easy to be complacent and comfortable continuing the way we practice and accepting the current conditions challenging our minorities within the profession. We should continue to question the structure of this industry and the motivations around our traditional work cultures. The profession should not seek to forget the past; it should remain woke to what it has learned from listening to and believing our BIPOC community. To continue breaking down barriers, we should remember that everyone has a place in architecture. We must never forget architecture is for everyone; we all have a relationship with the built environment, and there are barriers architects should never design to build.”

Sarah Broughton, FAIA
AIA Colorado President-Elect
Principal, Rowland+Broughton

“Barriers for minorities in architecture can be broken down by increasing exposure to what architecture is starting very early. Our firm is involved with the CAL Program (Cleworth Architectural Legacy Project) in Denver that exposes diverse dual language and minority K-8 classrooms to architecture education, inspiring learners to think critically about our built environment. This early hands-on experience fosters possibilities and dreams. The exposure must continue and the curtain be pulled back, casting a wide net into our communities and populations. I remember as a senior in high school, I approached my calculus teacher with a list of professions. He took the time to listen to me and understand my aptitudes and suggested that architecture was a good fit. How can we partner with high schools to make architecture well known and a profession that is viable and meaningful to their students? How do we partner with community programs to embrace diversity and expose the greater population to architecture? One example is the work my firm does with the Aspen Art Museum on a series of workshops on architecture that are open to all community members and give visibility to our profession.

A huge barrier to our profession is the cost of education. We need to continue to hire and write our job descriptions to allow for bachelor’s degrees and on the job training as the prerequisite for advancement. Too often, I speak with emerging professionals who think that the path to licensing and a career in architecture is through more education (and often suffocating debt). We need to be open to various paths, openly discuss them, and provide multiple examples of how to achieve success as an architect.

We as a profession need to continue to be open and collaborative. Architecture is about people and problem solving. By increasing visibility of what we do and how we do it, it will inspire dreams and continue to encourage architects to remain in the profession. We need to give permission to participate and ask questions. We need to refrain from preaching what it was like when we started in the profession (times have changed, that is inevitable). We need to encourage multiple viewpoints and paths to a fulfilling architectural career. We need to be generous with our mentoring and telling our story, because our journeys are diverse and hopefully your journey inspires the next architect to jump in!”

We invite you to read or revisit Question #1 of the series: “Describe how your career has been enhanced by exposure to diverse people, places, or experiences.”

We’d like to extend our sincere gratitude to our One Question participants for their vulnerability and humility. You can expect to hear more from them over the course of the next four months as we continue this monthly series, culminating with a live panel discussion reflecting on this project at the AIA Colorado Practice + Design Conference, November 2-4, 2022, in Keystone.

One Question Series: Part 1, Diversity Exposure

What happens when you ask the same question to five designers with five different backgrounds? You get five very different answers that will put you in someone else’s shoes. From firm principals to emerging professionals, we’re diving in to better understand—and share—others’ perspectives. It’s a new monthly series—“One Question”—produced by our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Committee. 

In partnership with the Colorado Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, we invite you to see through the lenses of five different practitioners to learn how their unique backgrounds shape experiences in the firm and their approaches to design.

Describe how your career has been enhanced by exposure to diverse people, places, or experiences.

Sarah Broughton, FAIA
AIA Colorado President-Elect
Principal, Rowland+Broughton

“Curiosity is the root of creativity. I have always been curious and ask a lot of questions. This allows me to listen to everyone around me and to seek out opinions. It also adds in lots of observations! College was a huge exposure to the world of design. Upon graduation, I won a design competition and was awarded an internship with EDAW (now AECOM) in their Sydney, Australia, office under the helm of a great female leader, Jacinta McCann. Jacinta took me to meetings and gave me responsibility. She showed me how to be an equal design partner. 

After Australia, I moved to New York City. I landed a job with Kliment Halsband Architects. I immediately started working with Frances Halsband, FAIA, who at the time, had already been New York’s first female AIA President and was continuing to trailblaze women in architecture. Frances taught me how to dig deep and be a comprehensive designer. Through more practice and understanding, my contributions became more valuable. My interest was met with openness and knowledge sharing.

I continue to draw on the lessons these great women leaders gave to me and am thankful for their mentorship and patience to train me. Through living in great, diverse metropolitan cities to being an avid traveler meeting new people and cultures, my career continues to be enhanced. I remain curious, ask a lot of questions, and seek multiple viewpoints and experiences—always with the intention of being more open and contributing.”

Kari Lawson, Assoc. AIA
AIA Colorado Associate Director
Designer, TreanorHL

“Diversity is not a matter of opinion for me—it is my entire life and my cultural outlook. My experience as a Black woman in this industry has exposed me to many different opportunities where I’ve needed to acclimate to foreign environments. I’ve always interpreted these instances as a positive in my growth and molding in my career. My studies at Auburn were the catalyst and most impactful to this exposure.

I recall participating in an interdisciplinary charrette with landscape designer Walter Hood for a Birmingham farmers market. This was the first time I had worked with designers who looked like me. I most remember the passion and explorative creative thought in the question: ‘What if?’ A light came on in my head, and the energy of the work was finally palpable. I had become accustomed to believing in my ideas or myself as the garnish or side dish to the main event. Yet in a single moment, I realized that there is validity in my thought process and how depriving sharing these expressions is only a detriment to the creative problem solving required. This is one example where my only wish was that I was more insightful, more involved, and more confident. I came away from it with the idea to ‘leave it all on the table.’

Currently, I don’t have as many opportunities to get that kind of exposure, but I realize I can be that experience or person for others. It brings me to a position as a contributor, which is incredibly important and necessary. My diverse experiences have empowered me in that while my place at the table revolves, the importance of contributing my thoughts remains just as important.”

Victor Gonzalez, Assoc. AIA, NOMA
AIA Colorado J.E.D.I. Committee Member + Editorial Representative
Davis Partnership Architects

“Experiencing diverse people, places, and experiences have allowed me to not only escape from my comfort zone, but also explore how unique and different perspectives can enhance the world.

In relation to architecture, oftentimes, there is a high level of comfort in staying within what is taught in American, post-secondary architecture education. Unfortunately, this does not allow us to see beyond what other cultures have done with the built environment to enhance the human experience. I think that, as a practice, there still needs to be a level of exposure to this.

Oftentimes being a minority in the profession of architecture has allowed me to tap into my own identity and cultural background. Being Mexican, I often think about how my identity can be reflected throughout my work. The practice of architecture stems from an architectural education that is primarily focused on American and Eurocentric examples, and this foundation fails to bring in other enriching examples that are non-western.

Throughout my college education, I found myself bringing influence into my studio projects from the Aztec and Mayan people. These civilizations brought about significant architectural achievements that were rarely taught about in my college education. Whenever I would explain this inspiration behind my projects my peers would be fascinated and shocked that they had not heard about these architectural feats before and even ask for resources where they could possibly learn more. What I learned from this experience was that although I was many times the only minority in the room, my cultural background, perspectives, and experiences would contribute so much to those around me. To me, this experience demonstrated that diversity is a contribution in itself, and it has the potential to contribute to an environment.

As I have now kicked off my professional career, I hope that I can continue to share my cultural experiences with my colleagues.”

Wells Squier, AIA
AIA Colorado President
Principal, Anderson Hallas Architects

“My father led a retail store planning design firm, where he worked on projects throughout North America. When I was young, I would spend a lot of time in his office, where my interest and passion for architecture started. My father was my greatest inspiration when I was young, and because of his affinity for design, our home was full of many mid-century classic furniture pieces and books related to design and architecture. This exposure allowed me, in some ways, to start the pursuit of education toward the architectural career I was so focused to achieve before I reached the age of 10. However, my father’s inspiration upon me, in retrospect, was devoid of much diversity. I mention this background, because today, we are discussing critically how to enhance diversity and equity in our profession, and it is not lost on me that the road I followed to become an architect was a much easier path to navigate than it has been for so many others. 

International travel and time spent studying abroad during college and in the years since continue to have an immense impact on my career, due to the immersion in different cultures it provided. A broad global perspective is something so important to us as architects. With that said, it really wasn’t until I moved to Chicago for work that I was exposed to widely diverse people who truly enhanced my career so significantly. Almost immediately upon starting my position with SOM I experienced immense humility. The rigor, intensity, and talent of those I found myself working with caused me to realize how limited my experiences and exposure to diversity had been in the developmental years of my career.  I was so fortunate to work with talented men and women of all backgrounds and ethnicities, including Korea, Serbia, China, the Netherlands, the list goes on. These were some of the hardest working people I had ever interacted with professionally, and I learned so very much from them—lessons I reflect on regularly to this day. In some ways, I think I knew my path to the desk in that office was a bit smoother than the path many of my friends and colleagues at that firm had to follow to get to that same place, and this weighed on me, but in a way that made me a better architect and person. Because of this, I was inspired to work harder to earn their appreciation and respect, aside from their friendship I valued so much, while also gaining a greater appreciation for the struggles they had to overcome to achieve their professional goals. These experiences continue to push me harder today and to never take anything for granted. We have an immense responsibility as architects—and the profession demands that we all seek our highest potential—for the betterment of others and the planet.”

Patricia Joseph, AIA, NOMA
Project Designer at Cuningham
President-Elect of NOMA Colorado
Lecturer, CU Denver College of Architecture & Planning

My career has been enhanced most recently by exposure to diverse people within the profession. I know distinctively how my career has flourished during times when I had high exposure to diverse professionals within the architecture community. Those diverse experiences have exposed my career to new opportunities and events I would likely not have considered or taken. Spending time with those who are different than I am is a diverse experience each time, most often happening in diverse places.

When I attended grad school at SCI-Arc for my master’s degree, I had the best time in my life, and I was in love with architecture. My colleagues and I would speak different languages and we shared our cultural dishes, sometimes right in studio. By being different individuals, we all leaned into our uniqueness, allowing us to learn architecture in our own ways without shame or denial. While I excelled, I was surrounded by diversity, I was also being taught by the most diverse group of educators in my life. My professors spoke multiple languages, and they were women, too. Experiencing architecture through this diverse lens elevated my thoughts on education and who can be an educator. I am a lecturer at the College of Architecture and Planning at University of Colorado Denver, because of the example I was shown where the value of one’s ideas and understandings around architectural education were not linked to one’s outward identifiers.

Another season of tremendous growth happened most recently when I obtained licensure while I was co-founding the NOMA Colorado Chapter. At a time where I should have no extra time or energy for other things outside of work, I found myself constantly inspired by the growing number of diverse professionals I was becoming acquainted with. Gathering so many diverse individuals who believed in the mission was motivation to get through the architectural registration exams. I have been thriving in the company of those who have diverse experiences to share and who have been enhanced by those experiences themselves. Now, we are dreaming and planning events around growing the next generation of architects. My career in architecture involves thinking about diverse experiences to jumpstart someone else’s career in architecture with Project Pipeline Summer Camps. I know how much my career has been enhanced by being in diverse places and I want that for the next Black woman architect, too.

Constant exposure to someone, somewhere, or something different lends us to constant reminders to be open minded, to think differently, to design differently—that’s the enhancement. And as architects—that’s the career.

We’d like to extend our sincere gratitude to our One Question participants for their vulnerability and humility. You can expect to hear more from them over the course of the next four months as we continue this monthly series, culminating with a live panel discussion reflecting on this project at the AIA Colorado Practice + Design Conference, November 2-4, 2022, in Keystone.

Welcome, 2021 Members!

Our 2,400 FAIA, AIA, Assoc. AIA, and new graduate members all comprise the AIA Colorado community, and we’re honored to recognize the following members who joined or transferred in from another state to Colorado in 2021. Please help us welcome the following new members.

2021 AIA and Assoc. AIA Members

Abigya T. Abiyo, Assoc. AIA

Lynn Acton, AIA

Douglas E. Adams, AIA

Mark E. Adcock, AIA

Casey Alexander, Assoc. AIA

Danya Alheriz, Assoc. AIA

Andrew P. Allmon, AIA

Filimon Alvarez, Assoc. AIA

Saeed Amirchaghmaghi, Assoc. AIA

Kenyon Anderson, Assoc. AIA

Antonio J. Andrade, Assoc. AIA

Matthew Andronowitz, Assoc. AIA

Chris Antonopoulos, Assoc. AIA

Pamela April, Assoc. AIA

Elizabeth R. Arnold, AIA

Jacques A. Artel, Assoc. AIA

Susan M. Atkinson, Assoc. AIA

Jaime E. Aubry, Assoc. AIA

Evan Auer, Assoc. AIA

Crystal Babb, Assoc. AIA

Michael Baden, AIA

Abigail Balderrama-Magallanes, Assoc. AIA

Roger Barak, AIA

Gabe Bellowe, AIA

Patrick R. Berrend, AIA

Hailey Beyer, AIA

Mark W. Bila, Assoc. AIA

Jonathan K. Bock, AIA

James F. Bock, Assoc. AIA

Robert Brashears, AIA

Christopher W. Brettell, Assoc. AIA

Kyle L. Brunner, Assoc. AIA

Greg Bruskivage, Assoc. AIA

Adam L. Buehler, AIA

Megan K. Burke, Assoc. AIA

Alyson E. Burkhalter, Assoc. AIA

Mary H. Bussard, AIA

Brandon Byrd, Assoc. AIA

William R. Campbell, AIA

Michelle Anne Canniff, Assoc. AIA

Oscar Carlson, Assoc. AIA

Adam Casias, Assoc. AIA

Jordan Tierney Caylor, Assoc. AIA

Benjamin R. Charpentier, Assoc. AIA

Kayla Chenery, AIA

Ashley Clark Adams, AIA

Kirsten A. Coe, AIA

Janna H. Cole, Assoc. AIA

Ryan Cook, AIA

Catherine A. Crain, AIA

Andrea L. Cunningham, AIA

Marc P. Daubert, Assoc. AIA

Jennifer M. Davis, Assoc. AIA

Lauren A. Davis, AIA

Alan Doggett, Assoc. AIA

Yinhui Dong, Assoc. AIA

Joseph M. Dooling, AIA

Meghan Duarte-Silva, AIA

Krista L. Dumkrieger, AIA

Craig A. Dunn, Assoc. AIA

Benjamin S. Durham, Assoc. AIA

Luke W. Durkin, AIA

Ashley Duvenhage, Assoc. AIA

Jennifer B. Edwards, Assoc. AIA

Samantha N. Eichhorn, Assoc. AIA

Amaleed E. Elmehdiwi, Assoc. AIA

Nicholas J. Esquibel, Assoc. AIA

Lauren C. Falcon, AIA

Charles W. Fielder, AIA

Nicholas H. Fish, Assoc. AIA

Corey J. Fisher, AIA

Michael C. Folwell, AIA

Rena M. Foster, AIA

Kit Frey, Assoc. AIA

Craig M. Friedman, AIA

Anna S. Friedrich, Assoc. AIA

Douglas L. Fullen, AIA

Christopher W. Fuller, AIA

Christian Fussy, AIA

Ben Garcia, Assoc. AIA

Tamrat Z. Getu, Assoc. AIA

Jason C. Geving, AIA

Patrick J. Gleason, AIA

Iulia Gnatyk, Assoc. AIA

Austin S. Gohl, AIA

Victor Gonzalez, Assoc. AIA

Christopher R. Grantham, Assoc. AIA

Aaron Gray, AIA

Garrett E. Greene, Assoc. AIA

Justin Gross, AIA

Rebecca Groves, AIA

Adrienne Gullia, Assoc. AIA

Shilpa Gupta, Assoc. AIA

Roger Hall, AIA

Jack Hamilton, Assoc. AIA

Timothy R. Hansen, Assoc. AIA

Kyle J. Hanson, AIA

Ethan Harper, Assoc. AIA

Imani Haupt, Assoc. AIA

Katherine E. Hawkins, AIA

Travis A. Hendrix, AIA

Ryan Hess, AIA

Seth Hmielowski, AIA

Grant W. Horton, Assoc. AIA

Josephine Hsu, Assoc. AIA

Stefani G. Huey, AIA

Andrew Huggins, Assoc. AIA

Christopher Hurley, AIA

Ariana N. Irizarry, Assoc. AIA

Joseph Irwin, AIA

Jonathan W. Jaeger, AIA

Erik Jansson, AIA

Alex P. Jauch, AIA

Nils Jergensen, Assoc. AIA

Emily L. Johns, AIA

Amanda Johnson, Assoc. AIA

Electra Johnson, Assoc. AIA

Boyd L. Johnson, AIA

Eric C. Jones, AIA

Christopher R. Jones, AIA

Claire Jordan, AIA

Martin Joyce, Assoc. AIA

Chancie Keenan, AIA

Alexander M. Kendle, AIA

Tamzida Khan, Assoc. AIA

Sarah T. KIA, AIA

Jessica L. Killinger, AIA

Jennifer Kimura, AIA

Lisa R. Kistner, AIA

Jenny K. Kivett, AIA

John W. Koblosky, Assoc. AIA

Madelyn R. Kodros, AIA

Eric J. Kuhn, Assoc. AIA

Malgorzata Gosia L. Kung, AIA

Euginie Kwan, Assoc. AIA

Sarah J. Laake, Assoc. AIA

Christian Ladefoged, Assoc. AIA

Kerin N. LaFollette, AIA

Alexandra Lansing, Assoc. AIA

Andrew T. Lemmer, AIA

Shane W. Lenard, Assoc. AIA

Hengchen Liu, AIA

Edgar F. Llamas, Assoc. AIA

Erik K. Lobeck, AIA

Anthony J. Loughran, AIA

Germaine Low, Assoc. AIA

Jennifer Lozano Castillo, Assoc. AIA

Benjamin Ludeman, Assoc. AIA

Jacqueline A. Lund, Assoc. AIA

Hana Maclean, AIA

Kevin Madera, Assoc. AIA

Brian A. Majeski, Assoc. AIA

Sean R. Maloney, AIA

Chas M. Marquez, AIA

Natalie A. Martin, Assoc. AIA

Shawn K. Mather, AIA

Daniel Matoba, AIA

Sean P. McGovern, Assoc. AIA

Joselinne Mendoza-Ortega, Assoc. AIA

Kelsey Mercer, Assoc. AIA

Tyler Mikolajczak, Assoc. AIA

Ethan Miller, Assoc. AIA

Matthew R. Miller, AIA

Michelle L. Miller, AIA

Daniel H. Mills, AIA

Alec H. Mingle, Assoc. AIA

Fatima Montano, Assoc. AIA

Olivia Moore, Assoc. AIA

Sarah Morasso, AIA

Stephen P. Morton, AIA

Kaye S. Mullaney, AIA

Ajibola Murtala, Assoc. AIA

Adam C. Nault, AIA

Shannon Newberry, Assoc. AIA

Kevin J. Noble, Assoc. AIA

Sean P. O’Bryant, AIA

Kieran Patrick O’Halloran, AIA

Graham Oden, Assoc. AIA

Karen Offer, Assoc. AIA

Olamide Olorunkosebi, Assoc. AIA

Mahamoud D. Omar, Assoc. AIA

Hans Osheim, AIA

Brent Otsuka, Assoc. AIA

William Otte, AIA

Andrea Paiz, Assoc. AIA

Joshua D. Palmer, AIA

Dhriti Pangasa, Assoc. AIA

SeungHee Park, AIA

Cameron Parker, Assoc. AIA

Sindhuri Patllola, AIA

Megan Paus, AIA

Derrick Paus, AIA

Lee P. Payne, AIA

Allison Pearlman, AIA

Mayraj Peer, AIA

Elizabeth Perry, Assoc. AIA

Chris S. Peterson, Assoc. AIA

Alexis Petre, AIA

Page Phillips, AIA

Vivek Prasad, Assoc. AIA

Darby K. Prendergast, AIA

Derek S. Price, AIA

Zareen Prithvi, Assoc. AIA

Jacob D. Richie, AIA

Renee Ritchie, Assoc. AIA

Benjamin Robbins, AIA

Brian Rogers, AIA

Genevieve E. Rogers, AIA

Sheena O. Rude, Assoc. AIA

Aaron M. Rule, Assoc. AIA

Brandon Rutledge, AIA

Rohini Saksena, AIA

Salima Salim, Assoc. AIA

Adam C. Savage, Assoc. AIA

Morgan Scott, Assoc. AIA

Samuel L. Severns, AIA

Darek Shapiro, AIA

Tallyn Sherman, Assoc. AIA

Lauren Sherman-Boemker, Assoc. AIA

Edward L. Shure, AIA

Anyeli Silva, Assoc. AIA

John M. Simon, AIA

Anna B. Slowey, AIA

Maureen E. Smith, AIA

Jacob L. Smith, AIA

Kristen Spanbauer, Assoc. AIA

Amanda E. Spice-Knoeller, Assoc. AIA

Evan Spurrell, AIA

Joe N. Stainbrook, AIA

Kristen S. Stanford, AIA

Milo J. Stark, Assoc. AIA

Kelly Steinway, Assoc. AIA

Samantha Strang, AIA

Zachary Strong, Assoc. AIA

Connor M. Sullivan, Assoc. AIA

Blake Sullivan, AIA

Lauren Tatusko, AIA

Eric Thuerk, Assoc. AIA

Alexander Udolkin, AIA

Lucy VanDusen, AIA

David Vasquez, Assoc. AIA

Lance G. Vigil, AIA

Belen Vigil, Assoc. AIA

Maryia Vinogradova, Assoc. AIA

Natalia Vladimirova, AIA

Chelsea L. Wade, AIA

Ariel G. Walden, Assoc. AIA

Abby M. Waldo, AIA

Yeceng Wang, Assoc. AIA

Eric H. Ward, AIA

Grant Warmerdam, Assoc. AIA

Aleks Webster, Assoc. AIA

Ronald Wells, AIA

Chandler M. Willie, Assoc. AIA

John Willits, Assoc. AIA

Ian F. Wilson, Assoc. AIA

Jess C. Wilton, AIA

David M. Wirth, Assoc. AIA

Rachel Wolf, AIA

Jamie Wolff, AIA

Harry Worsham, Assoc. AIA

Christine Wright, Assoc. AIA

Tyler J. Wurr, AIA

Ruichen Xu, Assoc. AIA

Urmica Yelavarthy, Assoc. AIA

John Yoon, AIA

Zarah Zalazar, Assoc. AIA

Tianjian Zhou, Assoc. AIA

Francesca Zucchi, AIA

Transferred In

Scott Abernethy, AIA

Pratiksha J. Achari, Assoc. AIA

Andrea Anderson, AIA

Andrew T. Berry, AIA

Charles C. Boyd, AIA Member Emeritus

Austyn T. Chesser, Assoc. AIA

Corey Collier, AIA

Brenna D. Costello, AIA

Amy E. Esposito, AIA

Alexander J. Goldberg, AIA

Avignon T. Greene, Assoc. AIA

Allison W. Haynes, AIA

Douglas C. Heaton, AIA

Joshua W. Hendershot, AIA

Michael Holliday, Int’l Assoc. AIA

Asa K. Houston, AIA

Andrew L. Lane, AIA

Yvonne Lee, AIA

Carrie B. Leneweaver, AIA

John T. Mills, AIA

Michael L. Rickenbaker, AIA

Steven J. Riojas, AIA

Todd A. Tierney, AIA

Ronald K. Wiendl, AIA

Zachary S. Wilson, AIA

Aimee J. Woodall, AIA

Victoria M. Ziegler, Assoc. AIA

Jati Zunaibi, Assoc. AIA

Year in Review with the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

Chairs Janna Ferguson, AIA, and Kaci Taylor, AIA

In 2021, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Committee was led by co-chairs Janna Ferguson, AIA, Partner at Pyatt Studio (left), and Kaci Taylor, AIA, Founder of THE5WH (right). This year marked the second year where committee goals focused on improving firm culture by incorporating J.E.D.I. practices into action. In addition, the committee addressed the accessibility of architecture education and how to best serve marginalized communities throughout Colorado. The committee also presented and engaged this work by actively hosting webinars that assisted in cultivating a culture of belonging throughout the practice. We caught up with Taylor and Ferguson to learn more about their experiences as the co-chairs this past year and how they best served the Colorado community.

What initially drew you to this group?

Kaci Taylor (KT): I was curious to see the direction in which AIA was approaching J.E.D.I. issues.

Janna Ferguson (JF): I was originally interested in being an AIA volunteer in general as a way to meet other professionals in Colorado and advocate for needed change within the profession. I chose the J.E.D.I. Committee to continue my personal commitment to be an advocate for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

How has this committee grown or changed since you initially got involved?

JF: To me, 2020 was a year for brainstorming ideas and projects we could pursue as a committee. It has taken shape into a committee with goals that are multi-faceted: (1) to improve J.E.D.I practices within the profession, starting with increasing awareness, understanding, and providing support for firms to take action; and (2) to introduce the architectural profession and education programs to underserved populations in K-12 schools and colleges.

What are some of the accomplishments this year you are most proud of?

KT: We hosted a great webinar series this summer that focused on J.E.D.I. issues.

JF: The three webinars led by the committee were very successful. It is also very exciting to see the Architecture Pathways map published on AIA Colorado’s website.

What do you think is the biggest contribution that this committee brings to the Colorado architecture community?

KT: We are trying to position ourselves as a resource for community growth within the profession, a place for others to come to if they have questions or need direction as to how to implement policies, procedures, and even design focusing around J.E.D.I. topics.

JF: In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, conversations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the United States seemed to take over; it is crucial that these conversations and the efforts that come from them continue to be at the forefront of our thinking. I think the J.E.D.I. committee can continue to both continue the conversation within the architecture community and work on projects that work toward lasting change.

As AIA Colorado strives to create a culture of belonging, what steps have you taken to reach beyond Denver?

KT: Through our virtual webinar series, we had the opportunity to reach every AIA member in Colorado.

JF: Pyatt Studio is located in Boulder; I’ve participated in, and will continue to participate in, the North section social events along with other committee members.

What are some immediate and long-term plans we can hope to see from the committee?

KT: More learning events and hopefully more integration with other committees and how they can bring J.E.D.I. practices and thoughts to their work, as well.

JF: Immediately, the committee can focus internally, increasing our awareness as individuals and as a group about J.E.D.I issues. In the long term, I truly hope the committee can help lead the Colorado community to a more just, equitable, and diverse place.

What one thing do you wish the membership and profession at large knew about this topic or what your committee is doing?

KT: That this work isn’t a check-the-box type of work and that you are never done learning and re-evaluating. The focus on J.E.D.I should not be to make yourself look good but to actually be and DO good with the knowledge gained in learning about J.E.D.I. issues.

JF: Overall, I wish that the efforts to increase J.E.D.I. were less focused on performance or participation and more focused on implementing actual change. For example, having a J.E.D.I. committee or serving on that committee in itself is not enough. It is performative. It is crucial to take the next step, creating and maintaining—through policy/programs—positive change.

Considering Fellowship: A Peek Behind the Process

Phil Gerou, FAIA

As we approach 2022 and evaluate professional goals for the coming year, we invite you to learn more about and consider AIA Fellowship.

But what is an AIA Fellow? How does one achieve Fellowship? And what is the role of the College of Fellows Nominating Committee? Beyond our webinar, “Demystifying Fellowship,” we wanted to know even more about the process, so we caught up with Phil Gerou, FAIA, who heads the College of Fellows Nominating Committee. Read on as he sheds light on the submission process, offers tips, and shoots us straight on its exclusivity.

Why does Fellowship matter?

It is the highest recognition, other than the gold medal award, given to architects recognizing their work, their service, and volunteerism. It is not an award for longevity in the profession, but for merit and effort.

What is the role of the Fellowship Nominating Committee?

The committee tracks eligible AIA Colorado members, length of membership, membership activity, and they encourage select members to apply. What else does the committee do? A lot. They even preview submissions and help coach applicants to have a better chance of being elevated. It is time consuming and arduous. The committee is there to review preliminary submittals, offer suggestions, advice, and assistance to be moved forward to the national level.

Is Fellowship awarded to young architects?

Actually, yes. The average age in Colorado, which is in line with the national average is 55 years old. The youngest person in Colorado to receive Fellowship was 41, and that was nearly 40 years ago. Colorado also has the distinction of the oldest person being awarded at 84 years old. That was Temple Buell. DC has awarded Fellowship to someone 36 and Baltimore to someone 38 years old. It takes time to build up your volunteer work, and you have to be a member for 10 years, although not consecutively.

Fellowship carries an air of elitism. How can that be changed?

It is a prestigious award and takes effort to submit and be approved nationally. Fellowship is greater than your body of work. It is about what you give back with, and that is rather humble.

With justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (J.E.D.I.) an imperative of this association, how is the Fellowship Committee working toward being more inclusive?

Locally and nationally, the AIA is working to be inclusive, and fellowship is reflecting that change.

For more than 30 years, the Fellows Nominating Committee has been representative of the AIA Colorado membership and has welcomed new members whenever they have expressed an interest in our objectives and a willingness to contribute time and insights.

Colorado is unique in having a Fellowship Committee that is dedicated to elevating its architects to this level. Colorado is one of few states to have a local chapter that supports Fellowship. In 1992, it was realized that it had been 6+ years since anyone from the state had been nominated. The Fellows Nominating Committee was formed and has been active ever since. The first year, 1993, they put forward six names, and all six made it. The committee is there to encourage Fellowship to lay out a path for fellowship and to assist with the process.

This committee keeps track of all AIA Colorado members to be there to work with and assist you when you are ready.

How does an AIA member get to Fellowship?

You showcase your volunteerism. It is more about how you give back beyond your daily work life; it is what you give and do with your community, to students, by mentoring, or by speaking and writing. It is partly about speaking to groups and through writing. It is not just about your body of work.

There are very specific criteria outlined by the AIA. There are six Objects of Nomination. The most common objects are one and two.

What tips do you have for applicants?

 1.) If you are working for a large firm, utilize templates they have in place and get support from the firm with your application. 2.) Hire a writer to work with you. This comes with a price tag—upwards of $10k. 3.) Write it yourself. You know your own story. You have to plan on carving out the time it takes to tell that story. Not all architects are good at telling their own stories. That is why the committee is there and they have been keeping an eye on you and know what you do. They are there to help you get there.

Gerou warns that the process is a long one, and it requires you to tell your true story. Who, what, when, why, how? Prove it. Those interested in submitting should plan to spend about a year preparing a submission.

If you are interested in helping others become Fellows and want to work with a dedicated group, reach out to Phil Gerou, FAIA to get involved.

Meet the 2022 Board of Directors


Wells Squier, AIA


Sarah Broughton, AIA

Past President

Rachael Johnson, AIA


Sheva Willoughby, AIA


Marc Swackhamer, Assoc. AIA

Associate Director

Kari Lawson, Assoc. AIA

At-Large Director

Ron Abo, AIA

Denver Director

Julianne Scherer, AIA

South Director

James Childs, AIA

West Director

Scott Munn, AIA

North Director

Scott Rodwin, AIA

Meet the Chair: Academy of Architecture for Health Knowledge Community

Associate Principal, TreanorHL

Mike Hagan, AIA

What’s happening in the healthcare industry? It’s no simple task of staying apprised for the Academy of Architecture for Health Knowledge Community, chaired by Mike Hagan, AIA. We caught up with Hagan to learn the latest happening in the knowledge community and the ever-changing healthcare industry.

How did you come to chair this committee?

My initial involvement with the new committee immediately generated much excitement, thanks to the great key members involved. The steering committee members helped encouraged me to maintain a high-level of commitment to help the organization succeed from its infancy and suggested a chair role for the 2021 year, which I was grateful to accept and embrace.

What drew you to this group initially?
With a passion for healthcare design and construction, this organization piqued immediate interest for “sharing health knowledge” within the community.

How has this committee grown or changed since you initially got involved?
The committee continues to grow with numbers of participants and thanks to the dedicated steering committee members from various local design firms. Diversity of knowledge continues to be strong. The committee has also become more structured in the recent year with defined roles and responsibilities for each steering committee member.

What are some of the accomplishments this year you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the committees success this year during very unique times of the continued virtual setting. Despite the challenges of not being in person, the group has maintained focus and a result had many successful events with participation continuing to increase.

What are some immediate and long-term plans we can hope to see from the committee?
The committee will continue to actively provide knowledge sharing opportunities though events and partnerships with other organizations. In the future, we hope with the growth of members and participants the knowledge will extend beyond architects to other important members in the healthcare community.

What one thing do you wish the membership and profession at large knew about this topic or what your committee is doing?
The committee is not only full of knowledge, but also—and most importantly—we are resources.

Meet the Co-Chair: Committee on the Environment

Sustainability Advisor and Business Developer, Iconergy Co.

Maria Agazio

This year, the Committee on the Environment (COTE) has taken deep dives into best practices, the 2030 Commitment, and a sustainability survey designed for Colorado architects. With environmental stewardship as an AIA Colorado imperative—and to learn more about the COTE initiatives—we caught up with Maria Agazio, who co-chairs the committee with Beverly Pax. Read on as Agazio brings us up to speed on the latest concerning environmental stewardship in Colorado.

What drew you to this group?

I was drawn to COTE, because my career is centered on the idea of furthering sustainability in the built environment and the idea of being able to discuss these topics with a group of architects seemed like a great opportunity.

How has this committee grown or changed since you initially got involved?

We have made progress toward communicating environmental topics more affectively with AIA Colorado members and the general public. The sustainability survey has been a major part of the group discussion and published this year. (We encourage you to take it!)

What do you think is the biggest contribution that this committee brings to the Colorado architecture community?

Resources around “demystifying the 2030 Commitment,” as well as survey results that will help us understand architects’ perspectives on various sustainability topics and themes.

As AIA Colorado strives to create a culture of belonging, what steps have you taken to reach beyond Denver?

We consistently look to other chapters to gather resources and provide resources for movement toward sustainable progress. This can also be seen by our awareness of national events and articles that are presented at each meeting.

What are some immediate and long-term plans we can hope to see from the committee?

I remain committed to addressing methane emissions, working to establish a more comprehensive electric grid. We hope to release survey results around sustainability awareness in Colorado firms, and we also hope to release a 2030 Commitment roadmap that helps firms sign and understand the 2030 Commitment.

What one thing do you wish that more architects knew about environmental stewardship?

Every building has the opportunity to add positively to its environment. It is the responsibility of the architect and design team to incorporate sustainable practices and elements into every design regardless of the overarching focus of the building.

A Conversation with a Boulder City Council Candidate

Lauren Folkerts, AIA

As part of the AIA Colorado Architectural Advocacy Network (AAN), committee members help to expand our advocacy efforts across the state and in local communities. AAN Committee Chair Erin Braunstein, AIA, recently sat down with Boulder City Council candidate Lauren Folkerts, AIA, to discuss her vision for Boulder, the path to architecture, and how you, too, can get involved.

Lauren Folkerts, AIA, is one of us. She’s an AIA Colorado member, an architect, and a passionate Coloradan. There’s one big difference, however. She’s running for Boulder City Council.

Folkerts’ campaign is motivated by the city’s affordable housing crisis. “What we say we want as a community is not aligning with the policies that Boulder has in place,” she said. “There are significant mismatches.”  

Now in her third year of chairing Boulder’s Design Advisory Board (with a term limited to 5 years), she has seen the unintended consequences of the existing regulatory language. Should Folkerts be elected to Boulder City Council on November 2, her knowledge of designations within zoning definitions, use codes, and how envelopes are dictated will be invaluable. 


How She Got Here

Graduating in 2010 from University of Oregon, Eugene, with a Bachelor of Architecture, Folkerts now works at HMH Architecture + Interiors specializing in sustainable design.  

We asked Folkerts, “Why architecture?” People around her as a child would suggest architecture as a career path given her strengths in math and art. While her childhood girlfriends would imagine marrying their crushes, she would design houses for the imaginary newlyweds. Folkerts grew up outside of Seattle, Washington, and at age 9, she visited the University of Oregon with her mom. During the tour, she questioned the guide “Do you have a good architecture program?” Years later, she asked herself what would make a meaningful impact and lead to doing good. University of Oregon’s strong sustainability program was a natural fit. And then came Boulder.

“Moving to Boulder and working in architecture, I expected something more from a sustainable city,” said Folkerts. “But the way the regulations are set up, while it’s good in some aspects for sustainable design, it restrict us from important options. A big part of why I decided to run for City Council was to change some of these rules. It’s time to make changes and incentivize the kind of sustainable design you would expect from a city with a reputation like Boulder.”

Creating Change

To help shepherd that change, Folkerts’ platform is based on solutions to help our community’s affordable housing crisis along with strategies to address the climate crisis.

She also believes that that Boulder needs to provide day-treatment services, and she would like for the city to implement more harm-reduction strategies regarding drug use. With current enforcement of the camping ban, she is concerned the city is causing additional harm. Many people fall in-between, and the housing fulfillment process is not fast enough for them. She cites statistics indicating that the number of days without housing increases one’s risk of not finding stable housing again. According to Folkerts, criminalizing people makes it harder to qualify for housing, which makes the problem more intractable.

There is a ballot initiative endorsed by many underrepresented groups titled, “Bedrooms are for People,” which addresses affordability of housing. The proposed ordinance modification would adjust the occupancy figures in housing. Folkerts supports that initiative and in expanding transportation options to connect where people live. Increasing density in some zoning districts, she says, is part of the affordable housing solution.

How We Can Help

We discussed how architects may make a difference in their communities and get involved. She noted that architects are trained in design thinking, trained to look for opportunities and to solve problems. Architects have information how sustainable improvements are essential to both the affordable housing and climate crisis. Those facts are incredibly useful for policymakers to hear. The education we can offer to shape government policy is under appreciated, especially when it so well aligned with voter’s wishes. The council has an existing work plan to make meaningful progress; the use code is due to be updated. Folkerts noted making significant changes in Boulder depends on the synergy with nine people on council.

There are huge opportunities to make sustainable gains for buildings and transportation—opportunities are the forces at play. At work, one project at a time, we do the right thing for our clients and make these sustainable choices. Architects have skills and understanding to address issues at large in a larger context and not be afraid of public advocacy involvement. Our time is limited. We need support from our firm leaders to be involved with these initiatives. We need to be involved and shape our communities and educate where we can. By sharing what we know regarding embodied energy versus operational energy, we can increase the level of understanding. Both the general public and policy holders do not have strong understandings about these issues.

Why should firms encourage community involvement? “Because it’s a good way to give employees experience in leadership and engage the community at large, while furthering goals among the architecture profession,” said Folkerts. “So you get two really big boosts from that. It’s about educational opportunities within the firm, but also leadership within the community. Whenever you have chances like that, it takes investment from the firm, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.”

What’s Next

Folkerts has earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, Boulder Weekly, and the Boulder Labor council. She has also received endorsement from current Boulder City Council Members Aaron Brocker, Junie Joseph, and Rachel Friend. When asked her where she imagines she will be in 15 years, Folkerts acknowledged she is focusing between now and November 3—after the election of course.

As we left our meeting, “Boulder Strong” signs were omnipresent. It’s a good reminder that the strength of any community is precious and worth advocating for—and to get out there and vote.

Demystifying Fellowship

© AIA Colorado 2022