By Daniel Nelson, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, project architect at Tryba Architects

3170_Dan_Nelson-075_Color_UncroppedI’m a Midwesterner at heart – born and raised in Michigan. I lived in Chicago for 10 years and just recently moved to Denver, where I joined the team at Tryba Architects. I have a passion for design of any type and ground myself in the creative process, and I think it is important for every professional to both recognize and be recognized for outstanding work.

That’s why I felt compelled to join the AIA Colorado Design & Honor Awards Steering Committee. I want to help Colorado’s talented architects be recognized for their work within the design community, and more broadly—among the public. I also want to help strengthen Colorado’s presence as a national design leader.

As a committee, we started by taking a step back to holistically evaluate the structure and organization of the Design & Honor Awards. Our desire is to establish clarity in the process and ensure visibility for award winners. Valuing equality and diversity, we hope to engage a wide range of architects and recognize their creative design solutions and the attributes that make them unique. I feel that showcasing a broad spectrum of unique architecture is of the upmost importance for the Design & Honor Awards.

An added benefit of the Design & Honor Awards is the potential to integrate and foster ambition for young professionals and students. Part of my reason for volunteering on this AIA Colorado committee is because I won an AIA Chicago student design award when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree (actually, I got second place, but close enough). As in my experience, including the next generation of architects ensures future involvement and leadership for years to come.

That’s why I plan to encourage the younger staff members at my firm and others to submit their work. Because the design process requires a large and diverse team of talented individuals, I see great importance in recognizing each member of the team. Regardless of their role or task, it influenced the design process and the final outcome, and therefore deserves recognition. Additionally, integrating young professionals into AIA programs (through awards, events, etc.) is crucial to the future health of our industry. We need strong leadership for the future, and we need to foster that leadership now through involvement and recognition.

Winning the AIA Chicago Student Design Award added strength to my resume, but more importantly, it provided me with an opportunity to network and familiarize myself with the Chicago architecture scene. This was hugely important for me at the time, as I was young and fresh out of school. The opportunity to be recognized as I was entering the profession allowed me to meet influential professionals in my new network. I was proud to win the award and very thankful for the opportunities it presented me, and it helped lead to where I am now, desiring to be involved in a way that gives back to the profession.

By showcasing diverse talent, including young professionals, through our AIA Colorado Design & Honor Awards, we’re working to strengthen Colorado’s role on a national level, both among our peers and the public.