2019 AIA|LA Presidential Honorees
Announced by
American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter

Community, diversity, and social engagement by those who advance design excellence epitomize wide-ranging winners who have changed or are changing the field.


July 18, 2019 (Los Angeles, CA)—One of the first African American women licensed to practice architecture in the United States, Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA, will be posthumously awarded the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles’ (AIA|LA) highest honor this October: the 2019 AIA|LA Gold Medal.

An inspiring, accomplished, and influential figure, Sklarek oversaw the realization of significant buildings across Los Angeles—from the Pacific Design Center’s Blue Whale to California Mart. She co-founded the largest architectural practice wholly-owned-by-women of her time. She mentored countless designers and architects during the course of her lifetime. Born in 1926, Sklarek died in 2012 but her presence still reverberates through the profession.

AIA|LA President Barbara Bouza, FAIA, notes, “For me, as one of the few black women architects practicing in the field today, Norma has been an enormous influence. She demonstrated what was possible and, generously, made accomplishments possible for others.”

Sklarek’s confluence of design and influence—she literally changed the profession—embodies the high level of achievement AIA|LA Presidential Honorees winners, of which the Gold Medal is one, are held to. Recipients are selected by the Chapter’s board of directors.

The complete class of 2019 AIA|LA Presidential Honoree recipients are:
+  Gold Medal (posthumously): Norma Merrick Sklarek, FAIA
+  Emerging Practice: Jose Herrasti, AIA, and Fernanda Oppermann, AIA – MUTUO
+  25-Year Award: Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant and Japanese Garden
+  Community Contribution: Los Angeles LGBT Center
+  Building Team: LA Plaza Village
+  Design Advocate, Builder: Morley Builders
+  Design Advocate, Developer: Clifford Beers Housing
+  Robert Kennard, FAIA, Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity: Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA – Director of Global Diversity, Perkins+Will
+  Educator Award: Neil Denari, FAIA – Professor, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design Department
+  Citizen Architect: Ric. Abramson, FAIA
+  Citizen Architect: Deborah Weintraub, AIA
+  Honorary AIA|LA: Linda Dishman – President and CEO, Los Angeles Conservancy
+  Honorary AIA|LA: Gary Krakower, Affiliate AIA|LA – Senior Account Executive, ARC Document Solutions

In addition to advancing design excellence, the 2019 honorees, much like Sklarek herself, are characterized by community, diversity, and social engagement. They expand the nature of the profession itself, and deepen ties to community and region through design.

Take for example, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, recipient of the Community Contribution Award. The center’s indoor-outdoor space integrates it with the surrounding neighborhood, literally facilitates transparency, and brings the neighborhood into its activities. LA Plaza Village, recipient of the Building Team award, harnesses a wide-ranging group of team members to deliver a far reaching, thoughtful project near the heart of the city.

“The expansion of opportunity serves individual careers, architecture firms, and the people of Los Angeles,” noted AIA|LA Executive Director Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIA|LA. Two new awards, inaugurated as part of the 2019 AIA|LA Presidential Honoree class, epitomize the tenets of community, diversity, and social engagement.

The first, the Robert Kennard, FAIA, Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity, is to be given, annually, to an architect, designer or architectural practice that embodies social responsibility and actively addresses equity, diversity and inclusivity in the profession. Recognized for his significant contributions to Los Angeles’ civic landscape, Robert Kennard, FAIA, is remembered for his commitment to mentorship and encouragement of young people, especially underrepresented ethnicities and women, to pursue careers in architecture.

“LA was my father’s home, and my hope is that the award will inspire other Chapters and organizations around the country to fully embrace these goals,” noted his daughter, Gail Kennard, who heads Kennard Design Group. “The architectural community will be stronger and more influential if it embraces them.”

The Chapter also established the Citizen Architect Award to recognize AIA members that apply their design insights, talents, and training to advance leadership, advocacy, and civic engagement, and who strive to be the voice of the profession to the general public.

The AIA|LA Presidential Honorees are bestowed in conjunction with the Chapter’s annual Design Awards ceremony, during which recipients are honored along with winners of juried design awards. Three categories of the latter are recognized: built projects, as yet unbuilt or uncompleted architecture, and projects that demonstrate excellence in sustainable design and performance.

The 2019 Design Awards Ceremony and Party is slated for the Saban Media Center Wolf Theater in North Hollywood on Monday, October 28, 2019. The evening kicks-off with a reception at 6PM, followed by an awards ceremony at 7PM. Après-ceremony festivities include a party, dinner and assorted-revelry.

For ticket purchase, click here or use this link: https://tinyurl.com/aiala-design-awards-tickets

Or, for more information about the 2019 AIA|LA Design Awards visit: https://tinyurl.com/aiala-design-awards

Event: 2019 AIA|LA Design Awards Ceremony + Party
Date: Monday October 28, 2019
Where: Saban Media Center Wolf Theater
Address: 5210 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Early Bird Prices (available through 8/09):
AIA Architect and Affiliate Members – $205
Associate Members – $95
General Public – $265
Tickets remain available after close of early bird price until event sells out, but increase in price.

Recognizing excellence in design, the AIA|LA Design Awards, Next LA Awards and COTE LA Awards are a suite of prestigious design awards bestowed by the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles on Los Angeles-based architects and practices that qualify for AIA|LA membership. The Los Angeles Chapter is one of the largest American Institute of Architects chapters in the United States. Submissions are reviewed by a select group of architects, fellows, critics, professors and theorists, who form a jury that represents the best in the design field.

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