Contact: Tibby Rothman, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Marketing and Public Relations
Cell: 213.639.0763
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2020 AIA|LA Architectural Photography Awards Winners
Announced by the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA – February 12, 2020 – The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) honors the vision of photographers who reinterpret the built environment through their own highly-individualized aesthetic. This year, we are delighted to announce the selection of thirteen stills and two Instagram feeds as 2020 AIA|LA Architectural Photography Awards (APA) recipients.
Culled from over 300 submissions, the winning photographs tonally spanned a dynamic range. In “Baluarte Jauregia,” Tzu-Chin Yu coaxes a rich narrative story out of a single frame: against a long line of people patiently waiting in a building’s shadow, a tiny child is the only creature stepping into sunlight. Marek Neumann offers an elegant mediation in “Space Time Continuum”: a tiny structure settled on stilts in a greenish lake is dwarfed by the vastness of nature surrounding it. Gerard Smulevich’s graphic patchwork of colors in “Barceloneta” is comprised of the walls of bathrooms, the only remnants left of a demolished building.

The variation of subjects was matched by the diversity of countries the photographs were taken in. Kazakhstan, Turkey, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Portugal and the United States were represented, among others. Yu, who was the only photographer to win two prizes at the highest level—Honor Awards—traveled from Taiwan to the APA Awards Ceremony on February 11, to accept awards for images shot in Denmark and Spain.

A collaborator in the photography studio Yi-Hslen Lee and Associates in his home country, Yu noted his interest in the architectural form comes, in part, by an architect’s ability to conceive a way “for the building to be with nature.”

The ways that individual photographs are curated were recognized for the first time in the 2020 AIA|LA Architectural Photography Awards, with the inclusion of two new categories: Best Instagram Feed by a Photographer and Best Instagram Feed by a Firm. To judge these two categories, the jury chose to evaluate Instagram feeds in their native format: on cell phones, rather than on the projection screen of the jury room.

Below are the 2020 AIA|LA Architectural Photography Award recipients, along with jury notes. Winners in the Image category were awarded at two levels, “Honor” and “Citation,” Honor being highest.

To view the winning images, visit:

Honor Awards

Photographer: Yu Tzu-Chin
Title: Baluarte jauregia (Pamplona, Spain)
Jury Notes: This is a great picture. It’s not immediately obvious what is happening, but when you really see the masterful, elegant eye that goes into this picture to really create its punch, that’s when it becomes all the more endearing and personal. | When it showed up on screen, we all had a chuckle. | We appreciated the scale shift between the mass of the building and the kid in the foreground. It looks really great.

Photographer: Yu Tzu-Chin
Title: Legohouse & Blue Boy (Billund, Denmark)
Jury Notes: We loved the composition: the sense of monochrome and the pops of color that were so exquisitely coordinated. | We could look at this for hours. |
We also love how the building almost disappears into the background. It’s the opaqueness of the environment engulfed in the whiteness of the building and you just have this blueprint in the middle—and a wonderful human element that doesn’t look staged.

Photographer: Anna Leiker
Title: #3 from the series “My Adopted Metropolis” (Santa Monica, CA)
Jury Notes: It’s hard to know where this is, but from the very first moment we saw it, it just really stood out as something fantastic and special. | It’s the only photo in here that used the soft focus technique and it’s really beautiful and intimate.

Photographer: Saide Serna
Title: A Summer in Chinatown (Los Angeles, CA)
Jury Notes: This photograph—it’s not a heroic topic or subject matter, but it’s smart; it’s photographed very artistically. | It’s really about plane color, repetition with these four poles in the foreground and then these planes of color, and a little bit of texture in the roofline. It encompasses all those qualities in one, without being a heroic photograph, and we also just want to keep looking at it. We’re drawn to it.

Photographer: Kirk Shimazu, AIA
Title: First Fall (Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan)
Jury Notes: This picture really has a beautiful tranquility to it with all of the trees behind, and a minimalism to it even though there are a lot of things going on. We were all drawn into it. | We also love the serenity of it, the feeling that you have stumbled across a perfect moment in time that is perhaps completely impromptu or highly stylized. | It’s such a beautiful and elegant image.

Photographer: Marek Neumann
Title: Space Time Continuum (Kazakhstan)
Jury Notes: This is interesting because it calls into question the role of architecture and nature which is just so timely today; it’s a really elegant meditation on the privilege we have of building in this world. It’s also a spectacularly beautiful photo with significant achievement in the technical skill. | This is a great way to show how you can isolate yourself and not have all this distraction and this architecture shows that. | In the realm of “would I like to live with this and sit with this all day”, it’s a resounding yes.

Citation Awards

Photographer: Jonathan Ducrest
Title: Petrol Station (Skovshoved, Denmark)
Jury Notes: What’s interesting about this one is its beautiful banality. Everything is just slightly unfamiliar, yet we kept coming back to it for the seductive sensibility and the positioning of the camera. | It’s quite extraordinary.

Photographer: Caglar Gokbulut
Title: The Tranquility (Istanbul, Turkey)
Jury Notes: This photograph had a haunting quality and it really opened a conversation between the jurors. | It draws you in and gets you to ask questions: Is this snow or is this ash? What’s going on with the blue light at the top. | It has this ethereal or mystical quality to it. | It feels like colliding architectural cultures–mosque-like structures but unified in a really compelling way.

Photographer: Javier Gil Vieco
Title: Skywheel (Niagara Falls, Ontario)
Jury Notes: Minimalism, but with an ethereal quality to it.

Photographer: Gerard Smulevich
Title: Barceloneta (Barcelona, Spain)
Jury Notes: It’s a perfect moment to catch something like that, a real situation. |
We really had to laugh at this one with all the fixtures hanging in the middle of the building.

Photographer: Aaron Araki
Title: The Living Room (Los Angeles, CA)
Jury Notes: This is really interesting because it talks about architecture at its most domestic, its most intimate, its least heroic and its least stylized. And speaks to comfort and simplicity. | In a moment of great emotional value, the quality of the light and the overall feeling of the photograph is fresh and uncomplicated but very powerful.

Photographer: Peter Molick
Title: Shek O (Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong)
Jury Notes: We love the lifeguard tower structure—it’s just iconic looking. And a single person standing below—it’s a really cool image.

Photographer: Joao Morgado
Title: Swimming Pools in Leça da Palmeira (Leça da Palmeira, Portugal)
Jury Notes: There is something really fresh and different about this. | The transformation of the landscape from foreground to background, from recreational to industrial, the tension between human-made forms and organic natural landscape elements dotted with the playful leisure of beach going. It’s an endlessly fascinating observational photo.


Photographer: Elizabeth Daniels
Title: @Elizabethdaniels01
Jury Notes: She is very good at scale from large to small. | We enjoyed the very intimate feeling of her feed, and really appreciated her lighting. | A very compelling Instagram feed.


Firm: Hanson LA
Title: @hansonla_architecture
Jury Notes: We loved this feed because it really is demonstrative of how a feed can represent process, creativity, different media—hand sketching, diagram—as well as the people who make architecture, in a really meaningful and compelling way.

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The awards ceremony for the 2020 AIA|LA Architectural Photography Awards took place on Tuesday, February 11 and was graciously hosted by DENK Gallery (in the Los Angeles Arts District) and gallery owners David Hoey and Dr. Katia Van Herle. To learn more about the gallery’s roster of artists, and upcoming exhibitions, visit: HED, the architecture firm, provided tasty treats and refreshments.

The 2020 jury was composed of the curator, author, and educator Dr. Emily Bills; the acclaimed architectural photographer Benny Chan; and architect Andre Kikoski, AIA – Founding Principal, Andre Kikoski Architect.

The AIA|LA established the Architectural Photography Awards program to recognize individuals who communicate a designer’s work. Through the awards, we celebrate the photographer’s eye, skill, and talent in expressing the transcendent nature of space.

The AIA|LA thanks its generous Annual Sponsors for supporting dynamic Chapter programs and initiatives throughout the year.

Platinum Sponsor: ARC Document Solutions
Gold Sponsor: Lutron
Silver Sponsors: AC Martin, HKS
Bronze Sponsors: Bernards, KFA Los Angeles, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects, Universal Reprographics
Breakfast Series: Psomas

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Tibby Rothman, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Marketing and Public Relations
c: 213.639.0763