MINNEAPOLIS, October 30, 2023 — AIA Minnesota is pleased to announce LSE Architects as the 2023 AIA Minnesota Firm Award recipient. Given biennially, this prestigious award is among the highest honors bestowed by the association; it recognizes an AIA Minnesota architecture firm that has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the profession of architecture.
Founded in 2011 by Mohammed Lawal, FAIA, Quin Scott, AIA, and Ron Erickson, AIA Member Emeritus, LSE Architects has become the largest Black-owned architecture and interior design firm in the Upper Midwest, serving a wide range of clients in 28 states. Over the past 12 years, the firm has grown from three employees and $200,000 in annual revenue to 55 employees and yearly revenue exceeding $17 million. The firm has also expanded its expertise, designing schools, libraries, community centers, housing, workplaces, and tribal cultural and entertainment projects.
The 2023 Firm Award jury, composed of AIA Minnesota board members and volunteer leaders, was impressed by the quality of LSE’s work and the way the firm has challenged traditional assumptions about public process and inclusion. The portrait that emerged from the nomination and recommendation letters in LSE’s entry was of a firm that listens intently to diverse voices, many of whom are meeting with architects for the first time. “In project after project, the LSE team has grounded itself in community, welcoming and working with ideas from every stakeholder,” noted one Firm Award juror. “It’s clear they want to do more than design buildings: They want to lift communities.”
“The projects they are most passionate about are often the most modest—but with the most community impact,” wrote Jennifer Yoos, FAIA, principal and CEO of VJAA and head of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture, in her nomination letter. “These are projects where they used limited resources inventively, where they supported entrepreneurial activities, or where they changed patterns of working to create new and better models. This is both community building and sustainable design through the practice of architecture, and it is important work that benefits us all.”
A selection of recent projects includes Hennepin County Library–Webber Park in Minneapolis, a renovation and expansion of Roseville High School, the Midway YMCA in St. Paul, and a phased, mixed-use project in Minneapolis for renowned designer, entrepreneur, and innovator Houston White.
Excerpts from the recommendation letters highlight how clients working with LSE Architects value the process and their relationship with the firm as much as they do the finished projects:
- “LSE was effective on a variety of virtual and in-person platforms, drawing out opinions in reluctant stakeholders and providing examples to inform and guide conversations. Throughout this process, LSE thoughtfully challenged [our] team to think differently and bigger, and their leadership and guidance has enhanced [our] future.”
- “The principal partners, our lead designer, and other members of their team have shown up to meetings and special events we have held. This speaks volumes to us—because we wanted a firm that BELIEVED in our vision and work.”
- “LSE has been a strategic partner with me as I think bigger and expand my business. They have also connected me to developers, other business owners, and valuable connections in the community. At this pivotal moment in time, with Minneapolis at the focal point of the world, they are gamechangers.”
The Firm Award jury also cited LSE’s significant commitments to supporting and advising emerging firms; nurturing growth and leadership in their own staff, including through involvement in AIA and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA); and attracting and mentoring a diverse new generation of designers through youth programs and LSE internships. In an earlier chapter in their careers, CEO Mohammed Lawal, FAIA, and Jennifer Anderson-Tuttle, Assoc. AIA, principal director education and public sector, founded the Architectural Youth Program (AYP), an accredited after-school program designed to introduce young women and students of color to architecture and related fields.
“We are thrilled to receive this award from AIA Minnesota. It is an honor to have our work recognized by our peers,” says LSE president Quin Scott, AIA. “Our LSE team strives to bring artful and inspiriting solutions to each and every project. This award is the outcome of our clients’ ongoing commitment to make an impact in the communities that we serve.”
LSE Architects was honored at an awards celebration at the AIA Minnesota Conference on Architecture on November 15, 2023. Learn more about the Firm Award here.
The American Institute of Architects Minnesota, founded in 1892, is dedicated to advancing a vital profession, vibrant communities, and architecture that endures. For more information on the organization and Minnesota architectural firms, visit our website and subscribe to ENTER, our digital monthly newsletter that explores the people and ideas shaping a better built environment for Minnesota.