Pictured above: 2023 AIA Minnesota Next Gen Award recipient Ellie Ziaie, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C.

In keeping with AIA Minnesota’s mission to build and mentor the profession, the Next Gen Award is given to recent graduates of an accredited NAAB architecture program who have demonstrated early leadership potential or exceptional service to the AIA, the architecture profession, or the community at large.

The submission window for the 2024 AIA Minnesota Next Gen Award is closed.

Next Gen Award and Young Architects Award Open House

On April 4, AIA Minnesota held a virtual open house with 2023 Next Gen Award recipient Ellie Ziaie, AIA, and 2023 Young Architects Award recipient Laura Eder, AIA, who shared their approaches to creating a successful entry. A recording of that even can be viewed here.


AIA Minnesota members and Associate members who have graduated with an architecture degree from an NAAB-accredited program in the last five years (2019 or more recent) are eligible for this award. AIA licensure is not required to be eligible for this award. 

All AIA Minnesota award programs require a declaration that candidates for awards are in compliance with the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Submitters will need to certify they comply to the best of their knowledge. This requirement is part of our commitment to ensuring that recipients of AIA Minnesota awards comport to the highest standards of character and professionalism, and it complies with requirements for AIA National awards.

Selection Criteria

Candidate submissions should demonstrate:

  • Early leadership potential and exceptional service;
  • Substantial involvement in a committee, knowledge community, or initiative of AIA Minnesota;
  • Contributions to the profession of architecture through academic, professional, or volunteer efforts; and
  • Significant contributions to the community through volunteering, activism, or leadership activities.

Submission Requirements

  • Nomination Letter (maximum one page). A letter submitted by a registered AIA member on the candidate’s behalf that clearly states the candidate’s qualifications for the award.
  • Candidate Biography and Accomplishments (two to three pages). Summary statement of the candidates educational and professional experience and any positions, honors, publications, and presentations that relate to the purpose of the award. The statement should include a personal narrative illustrating how the candidates work has demonstrated early leadership potential or exceptional service to the AIA or the architecture profession, or benefited the community through volunteer efforts.
  • Exhibits (maximum five pages). Photos, images, drawings, and other materials that demonstrate the candidate’s full breadth of accomplishments. Examples of exhibits can include photos of volunteer work, a sample from a publication, or project imagery. For each exhibit, the candidate should note his or her direct involvement in the work and include a Declaration of Responsibility.
  • Two Recommendation Letters (maximum one page each). Letters written by people with direct knowledge of the candidate’s efforts that relate to this award. The letters should be written on company letterhead and signed, with an explicit recommendation, and contain specific reasons supporting the candidate’s submission.


Winners of the Next Gen Award will be recognized at an AIA Minnesota Awards Celebration at Crown Roller Mill in Minneapolis on August 15, 2024, and will receive free registration to attend the national AIA conference. The winning submissions will also be highlighted on the AIA Minnesota website.

There is no entry fee for the AIA Minnesota Next Gen Award.

2024 Next Gen Award Jury

Ed Kodet, FAIA (jury chair)
Laura Eder, AIA
Nathan Johnson, FAIA, NOMA
Michael Laverdure, AIA
Ellie Ziaie, Assoc. AIA

2023 Next Gen Award Recipient

The 2023 recipient of the Next Gen Award is Ellie Ziaie, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C. Read the release »

2022 Next Gen Award Recipient

The 2022 recipient of the Next Gen Award is Nicole Bauknight, Assoc. AIA, NOMA. Read the release »


If you have any questions or concerns related to the AIA Minnesota Next Gen Award process, please contact Chris Hudson via email or at 612-338-6763.