2023 AIA|LA Board of Directors Awards

Announced by American Institute of Architects Los Angeles

The suite of awards recognizes individuals and organizations in the LA region whose work enhances equity, access, and inclusivity.

Monday, July 24, 2023 (Los Angeles, CA) – The American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA) has announced the recipients of its annual 2023 Board of Director Awards (formerly known as the ‘Presidential Honor Awards’). The Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by AIA|LA and selected by Chapter President Leslie Sydnor, AIA, has been awarded posthumously to Earl E. Gales, Jr., AICP.

Award recipients will be formally celebrated during the 2023 AIA|LA Design Awards Ceremony—which also honors winners of the juried AIA|LA Design Awards and Next LA Awards—to be held at AIA|LA’s brand new West Adams Center for Communities on October 24.

The 2023 AIA|LA Presidential Honorees:

  • Gold Medal Award (Posthumous):  Earl E. Gales, Jr., AICP-Chairman and CEO, Jenkins/Gales & Martinez, Inc.
  • Building Team Award:  Team for The Sixth Street Viaduct (see full credits here)
  • Emerging Practice Award:  Good Project Company
  • 25-Year Award:  Bergamot Station – Frederick Fisher and Partners & Pugh + Scarpa
  • Citizen Architect Award:  Sarah Lorenzen, AIA – TOLO Architecture and Professor, Architecture, College of Environmental Design – Cal Poly Pomona
  • The Merry Norris Design Advocate / Developer Award:  SoLA Impact – Martin Muoto, Founder & CEO
  • The Merry Norris Design Advocate / Builder Award:  Charles Pankow Builders, Ltd.
  • Community Contribution Award:  LeaderFlow: Janiece Williams – Executive Director & John Gavan, S.E. – President & CEO, KPFF Consulting Engineers
  • Robert Kennard, FAIA Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Award:  Joshua Foster, Assoc. AIA / JAF Creative Solutions
  • Educator Award:  Linda Pollari – Former Chair, Department of Environmental Design, Otis College of Art and Design
  • Honorary AIA|LA:  James Rojas – PlaceIt!
  • Honorary AIA|LA:  George Reilly / Buro Happold

Gold Medal Winner Earl E. Gales, Jr., AICP, was the founder and chairman of LA-based Jenkins/Gales & Martinez, Inc., one of the nation’s largest minority-owned AEC firms. Under his leadership, JGM’s numerous civic projects made significant improvements to the daily lives of thousands of Angelenos. Gales was a widely admired role model for minority architects, and valued for his extensive community involvement and mentorship of students of color.

Gales’s legacy extends beyond LA’s built environment through his work as an advisor to political leaders and as a mentor. In this capacity he established the Earl Gales Jr. Environmental Design Scholarship at Cal Poly Pomona to increase accessibility to higher education in urban planning and architecture.

The Building Team of The Sixth Street Viaduct embodies the efforts of multiple entities working together successfully in the creation of a significant contribution to the built environment of Los Angeles. The AIA|LA Board saw its own values of inclusivity expressed in the Viaduct project: a structure that connects the Boyle Heights community to the east and the Arts District and Downtown to the west. With its multi-modal access and park below, it creates a welcoming urban hub that is accessible to all. 

Good Project Company received The Emerging Practice Award for developing projects that are clever, conceptually clear, and highly specific to the opportunities of each project. They re-envisioned the Japanese Institute of Sawtelle, an important cultural institution in the Japanese immigrant community, through a series of improvements to enhance functionality, develop a contemporary visual identity, and a new Japanese Immersion preschool.

Frederick Fisher and Partners and Pugh + Scarpa received the 25 Year Award for Bergamot Station. Originally a railroad station that later served a variety of industrial uses, the abandoned site was purchased by the City of Santa Monica. For nearly three decades, Bergamot Station Arts Center has been a pillar of the City’s arts community, offering free-to-the-public experiences. 

Citizen Architect Sarah Lorenzen, AIA – TOLO Architecture and Professor, Architecture, College of Environmental Design – Cal Poly Pomona served as resident director of the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences, where she oversaw its physical restoration and its development as an accessible venue for public arts programming. The location, named a National Historic Landmark, serves as a community resource for the exchange of ideas in art and architecture. Lorenzen has also made significant contributions to AIA|LA, volunteering as a board member, Chair of the Government Outreach Committee, and board member of its nonprofit arm, ACLA. In 2015, she was recognized with AIA|LA’s Educator of the Year Award.

The Merry Norris Design Advocate Award/Developer goes to SoLA Impact Founder and CEO Martin Muoto for his bold venture into LA’s most economically-impacted neighborhoods to address the homelessness crisis. Using an innovative investment strategy, he has developed desperately-needed affordable housing, generated economic development through jobs created in South LA Opportunity Zones, and offered opportunities to local youth through scholarships and programs at its South LA campus.

The Merry Norris Design Advocate/Builder award goes to Charles Pankow Builders, Ltd., cited by the Board as a strategically-minded partner in advocating for design within the context of community projects. Particularly evidenced in design-build projects for public clients with limited budgets, Pankow collaborates with their design and trade partners to champion paths that not only solve technical challenges, but create solutions which elevate design and the human experience.

LeaderFlow’s Janiece Williams – Executive Director & John Gavan, S.E. – President & CEO, KPFF Consulting Engineers received the Community Contribution Award. The nonprofit was established to address the limited access and opportunity for advancement for professionals of color within the AEC industry. LeaderFlow offers a multi-pronged curriculum—at no cost to its participants—that fosters professional and personal growth, mentor coaching, and networking opportunities. 

Robert Kennard, FAIA Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Award was awarded to Joshua Foster, Assoc. AIA / JAF Creative Solutions for his career-long EDI achievements. From his early focus on the design and construction of affordable and market-rate housing projects in Los Angeles County, to his education in real estate development, Joshua Foster transformed his experiences into founding JAF Creative Solutions (JAF), a community-impact focused strategic partnership and engagement consultancy firm. 

Educator of the Year Award recipient Linda Pollari, former Chair of the Environmental Design Department at Otis College of Art and Design, re-conceived the department to encompass architecture, landscape, and interiors. Through the study of multidisciplinary spatial arts, she created an opportunity for students to study the breadth of architectural practice to include landscape and interior design. She has been a dedicated mentor to hundreds of students, shepherding people from a wide swath of backgrounds into architecture and its allied professions. 

Honorary AIA|LA
An Honorary Membership recognizes outstanding and significant accomplishments of a person outside the profession of architecture, who has rendered distinguished service to the profession of architecture. 

Hon. AIA|LA: James Rojas – PlaceIt
Drawing on his training as an urban planner, community activist, and artist, Rojas founded Place It!, an interactive workshop that engages people in urban planning, transportation, design, landscape, and neighborhood change. Through hands-on methods, people can think creatively about ways to address the challenges facing our cities and neighborhoods. Through Latino Urban Forum, the advocacy group he founded, he has raised awareness about planning and design issues facing low-income Latinos. 

Hon. AIA|LA: George Reilly / Buro Happold
An MEP engineer at one of the most respected firms in the world, George Reilly has generously given his time and expertise to AIA|LA’s Committee on the Environment for many years. His contributions have strengthened AIA|LA’s programming and enhanced value for its membership. He is a mentor and inspiration to emerging professionals and veterans of the profession alike. 



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Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIA|LA
Executive Director, American Institute of Architects Los Angeles and Architecture for Communities Los Angeles
p: 213.639.0768
e: carlo@aialosangeles.org