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18 Young Architects Got Talent

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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Dedicated designers and avid volunteers across the U.S. top this year’s list of rising architecture stars, according to the American Institute of Architects.

AIA announced 18 recipients of the 2014 AIA Young Architects Award on Monday (Jan. 27).

The honorees include three architects who work for Gensler, the San Francisco-based global firm, and five who founded their own firms.

The Young Architects Award, now in its 21st year, “honors individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession early in their careers,” according to the AIA. 

Young architects are defined as professionals who have been licensed 10 years or fewer, regardless of their age. 

Details about each winner are provided below, courtesy of the AIA. Additional information is available by clicking on the individuals’ names.

Illya Azaroff, AIA

Azaroff earned a Bachelor of Art degree in geography as well as a Bachelor of Science in architecture studies from the University of Nebraska. He then went on to receive a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) and Master of Architecture (M.Arch) from the Pratt Institute. Azaroff is the founding principal of +lab Architects in Brooklyn, NY.

Illya Azaroff
Photos courtesy of AIA; © Anja Hitzenberger

Illya Azaroff, AIA, was recognized for his work in disaster response initiatives.

Azaroff has been recognized for his resilient design practices and prototypes of relief shelters. He serves on AIANY board as the Alternate Director of Public Outreach and the AIANYS board as the New York Regional Director for the Young Architects Forum. 

Thomas Bradley Benjamin, AIA

Benjamin graduated from Clemson University in 1999 with degrees in both architecture and construction science and management. After working at the firm Craig Gaulden Davis for 12 years, Benjamin founded Radium Architecture in Greenville, SC.

He has held numerous leadership positions within the AIA, such as the 2009 President of AIA Greenville, where he implemented the chapter's first strategic plan. Benjamin is the current chair of the AIA’s Young Architects Forum. 

Joshua Flowers, AIA

Flowers graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a B.Arch in 2001, returning to his alma mater to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 2005. 

As the 2012 President of AIA Memphis, Flowers was instrumental in increasing funding for component programs. Licensed as both an architect and an attorney, Flowers serves as in-house legal counsel for Hnedak Bobo Group (HBG) a national leader in hospitality and mixed-use design.

Wyatt Frantom, AIA

Frantom earned his Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from The Ohio State University and his M.Arch from Rice University. Currently, he is a senior architectural designer and associate with Gensler Los Angeles.

Wyatt Frantom
© Wyatt Frantom

Wyatt Frantom, AIA, is a senior architectural designer and associate with Gensler Los Angeles.

Frantom’s innovative work and collaborative approach to design is enhanced by his belief in the mentorship of emerging professionals, maintained ties to academia, and applied research. Frantom has impacted a broad range of platforms in the profession to make significant contributions early in his career.

Nathan Kalaher, AIA

Kalaher earned a Bachelor of Science in community and regional planning as well as a B.Arch from Iowa State University and an M.Arch from Cornell University. He co-founded PLaN Architecture, a firm focused on community engagement and design. He has received numerous awards, including consecutive Design Excellence Awards from AIA Iowa in 2012 and 2013. 

Kalaher is heavily involved with his state chapter and is currently the president of AIA Iowa.

Evelyn M. Lee, AIA

Lee has held elected leadership positions at the AIA on local, regional, and national boards, with the distinct honor of being the youngest member to serve on AIA National’s Executive Committee. She earned an MBA from the Presidio Graduate School of Management; B.Arch with honors and a minor in Global Studies and Photography from Drury University; and M.Arch from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. 

Evelyn Lee, AIA
© Shani Barel

Evelyn Lee, AIA, has held local, regional and national leadership positions within the AIA.

Lee’s work has been published in multiple media outlets and has driven the profession in a more environmentally, economically and socially responsible direction. 

Timothy W. Maddox, AIA

After graduating cum laude with a B.Arch from the University of Arkansas, Maddox partnered with Tim de Noble to create the firm denoblearchitecture. The name was soon changed to deMx architecture, with de Noble as principal-in-charge. 

Under his leadership, the firm has grown and has received numerous design awards. Encouraged by his commitment to serving the profession, AIA Arkansas leadership placed Maddox on the Board of Directors; last year, he was elected secretary for AIA Arkansas.

Daniel Overbey, AIA

Overbey earned a B.Arch degree from Ball State University and his M.Arch from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has served as an educator at several institutions and has held local, regional and national positions within the AIA. 

He has authored numerous white papers on his research work in the field of sustainable design. Overbey’s research-based background in building science and environmental systems has enabled him to be an effective design leader, educator and policy shaper.

Mark Pasnik, AIA

In 2006, Pasnik co-founded over,under, an architectural and design practice. Under his leadership, the firm has grown in its interdisciplinary design work across a spectrum of scales and projects types. The office presents an advocacy voice through the efforts of pinkcomma, its cultural arm for research and exhibitions, which Pasnik also co-founded as Boston’s only independent design gallery.  

Mark Pasnik
© over,under

Mark Pasnik, AIA, co-founded over,under, an architectural and design practice with a research and exhibition cultural component.

Pasnik and his team have also launched BSA Space, a new public arm of the Boston Society of Architects, with a series of six original exhibitions that have helped foster the society’s educational outreach to design and non-design audiences alike.

Michael P. Pfeffer, AIA

Pfeffer earned a B.Arch from the University of Notre Dame and was then recruited by the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM). There, he was promoted to associate director, becoming one of the youngest directors in the firm's 76-year history. 

Soon after arriving at SOM, Pfeffer helped create the Intern Development Program (IDP/ARE) Committee, where he remains deeply involved and serves as a resource and sounding board for junior architects who are in various stages of their licensing process.

Jason Dale Pierce, AIA

Pierce earned both a B.Arch and Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Drury University and is currently a project architect with HOK in St. Louis, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for AIA St. Louis.  

Pierce has served on the Executive Committee of the AIA California Council as vice president of the Academy for Emerging Professionals. Pierce is also involved with Habitat for Humanity, Next American City, Ronald McDonald House, and the Practice Management Knowledge Community Advisory Board.

Mark A. Schwamel, AIA

Schwamel received a B.Arch from Cleveland State University and went on to earn a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in architecture and urban design at Kent State University. 

Schwamel currently works for Gensler, where he also volunteers with the Rebuilding Together program, making homes warm, safe and dry for elderly or less-fortunate families in the Chicago area. 

He is passionate about professional development and is the office architecture licensure champion, serving as the intern program coordinator and mentor. Schwamel served as the associate director on the AIA Chicago board as well as the AIA Illinois Regional Associate Director on the AIA National Associates Committee (NAC).

Matt Slagle, AIA

During high school, Slagle excelled at drafting and art and received a four-year scholarship to Baker College of Muskegon. He later transferred to the University of Colorado, where he earned both a Bachelors of Business Administration and an M. Arch.

Matt Slagle
© TowerPinkster

Matt Slagle, AIA, is described as a leader who leverages every part of his life to strive for a greater good.

By his third year in the graduate program, Slagle had already acquired eight years of full-time architectural experience, making him eligible to take the Architectural Registration Exams. Slagle has served as the AIA Grand Rapids Member Services Director and has spent time volunteering at various other organizations.

Christian B. Sottile, AIA

After graduating as valedictorian from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Sottile  was awarded a fellowship to continue urban research abroad in Italy.  He earned his Master’s Degree in urban design and architecture from Syracuse University and was voted among the nation's “Top 100 Academics” by USA Today.  

Sottile turned his attention toward expanding the role of the architect as a leader in community planning, preservation and growth. Currently, he serves as a principal of Sottile & Sottile, a Savannah-based urban design firm working in Nationally Registered Historic Districts across the United States.

Lorena Toffer, AIA

Toffer earned a Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Monterrey Tech and an M.Arch from Texas A&M.  She is a registered architect in both Texas and Mexico and has developed a diverse portfolio.

This experience has demonstrated her broad range, being able to go from boutique projects to facilities seen by millions of people. During her leadership role as chair of the Young Architects Forum, Toffer led the creation of two signature programs: the Portfolio/Resume Workshop and the 10 Under Ten Exhibition.

Brian Vitale, AIA

Vitale earned a Bachelor of Science in architectural studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and M.Arch with honors from Washington University in St. Louis. While at Washington University, he received the AIA’s Scholastic Gold Medal and Certificate. 

Vitale is currently the design director for Gensler's Chicago office. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture and was awarded the 2010 AIA Illinois John Wellborn Root Award.

Karen E. Williams, AIA

Williams earned an M.Arch degree from Florida A&M University and is currently a member of the HKS Architects Inc. Commercial Assembly and Sports and Entertainment Group. 

Karen Williams

Karen Williams, AIA, was instrumental in founding AIA Orlando's Women in Architecture committee.

Williams is an adjunct professor at Seminole State College and serves as secretary on the AIA Orlando board. She served as the chairperson for Women In Architecture-Orlando. Williams is consistently working to educate people about the inner benefits of the architecture community and believes strongly in the need to market architecture to citizens of all ages.

Jeffrey M. Yrazabal, AIA

Yrazabal earned a B.Arch from Washington State University. After four years at Soderstrom Architects, Yrazabal joined SRG Partnership where he was promoted to principal, one of the youngest in the firm’s history.

He is the current AIA Northwest & Pacific Young Architect Regional Director, as well as President of AIA Portland. Yrazabal is also an avid volunteer, working with groups such as Rebuilding Together and Architects in Schools, and sits on the WSU Athletics Board as president of the Columbia River Cougars Club.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Awards and honors; Color + Design; Design; Designers

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