Left to right: 2024 AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award recipients Rebecca Alexander, AIA, and Greg Elsner, AIA.

The AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award is given to individuals who, in an early stage of their architecture career, have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession and the community at large.

The submission window for the 2024 AIA Minnesota Young Architects 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 who have been licensed to practice architecture for less than 10 years and are currently licensed in Minnesota. (NOTE: The term “young architect” does not reference the candidate’s age; it references years of professional experience.)

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

Selection Criteria

Submissions should demonstrate outstanding architecture accomplishments, leadership qualities, and significant contributions to the the community at large with selection criteria including, but not limited to:

  • Design Excellence demonstrated through the creation of buildings and environments that enhance our built communities;
  • Practice demonstrated through leadership, management, and/or specialized technical expertise; 
  • Education demonstrated through teaching, publications, and/or research; and
  • Service demonstrated through exemplary architecture service and contributions to the profession and society.

Nomination Submission Requirements

  • Nomination letter (maximum one page) submitted by an AIA member on the candidate’s behalf that clearly states the candidate’s qualifications for the award.
  • Candidate biography including a 25- to 35-word summary statement and a list of offices, positions, honors, publications, and presentations that relate to the purpose of the award (maximum two pages).
  • Summary of Accomplishments including a personal narrative illustrating how the candidate’s work has advanced design, practice, or education; enhanced the profession through active engagement; and benefited the community with volunteer efforts (maximum two pages).
  • Leadership Credentials including one’s involvement and leadership in AIA or other organizations, including a demonstration of how you have influenced the profession (maximum one page).
  • Exhibits with images, drawings, and other materials that demonstrate the candidate’s accomplishments (maximum 12 pages). For each exhibit, the candidate should note his or her level of responsibility for the work and include a Declaration of Responsibility:
    • Largely responsible for the design
    • Member of the design team
    • Candidate’s firm executed the design
    • Project architect
    • Other (explain)
  • In addition to the declaration of responsibility, each exhibit will require someone in possession of full knowledge of the specific project – other than the candidate – to certify the candidate’s responsibility. See more details about the format of this certification within Award Force.
  • Three Recommendations (maximum one page each; nomination letter does NOT count as a recommendation), written on company letterhead and signed, that are explicit in their recommendation and contain specific reasons supporting the candidate’s nomination.

There is no fee to enter the AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award.

Winners of the Young Architects Award will be recognized at an AIA Minnesota Awards Celebration at Crown Roller Mill in Minneapolis on August 15, 2024.


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

2024 Young Architects Award Winners

Rebecca Alexander, AIA, an architect and senior researcher in LHB’s Climate Solutions Studio, is a leader in the field of energy and climate action planning. Her projects range from the development of the Minnesota Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond (B3) Case Studies Database to technical leadership of the Regional Indicators Initiative, which engages communities in actionable strategies for greenhouse-gas reduction by providing them with data-driven planning tools.

Greg Elsner, AIA, director of design at Shelter Architecture in Minneapolis, combines construction expertise with design acumen to deliver innovative, detailed work where craft intersects with a mastery of material. His commitment to sustainability and holistic understanding of scale and the human experience creates exceptional spaces for a range of residential and commercial clients. And his impact has extended to other parts of the world, with leadership roles in projects for communities Kenya, India, and Honduras.

Read the press release.

2023 Young Architects Award Winners

Laura Eder AIA, vice president and director of sustainable design at ESG Architecture & Design, is shaping the way urban mixed-use architecture can reduce impacts of climate change by leading initiatives that advance the design process and educate the design community. In addition to her career-long commitment to sustainability, the jurors cited the unmistakable admiration for Eder in the nomination and recommendation letters written by colleagues, collaborators, and clients.

Katie Kangas, AIA, founder of Pasque Architecture, works holistically to transform workspace culture, professional practice, and public spaces. Her approach to leadership focuses on sharing stories of colleagues, clients, and communities. Jurors were struck by the sheer volume and impact of her community and AIA volunteer activities, the insights and tools she’s developed for graduates entering the profession, and her growing expertise in historic preservation.

Read the press release.

2022 Young Architects Award Winners

Simona Fischer AIA, CPHC, MSR Design’s director of sustainable practice, is a dedicated architect who is recognized nationally for her commitment to advancing sustainable architecture through design, education, research, and advocacy. Jurors noted her commitment to education and the advancement of sustainable design, as well as her work in public policy as outstanding contributions to the profession.

Kyle Palzer, AIA, CID, NCARB is a project architect at Alliiance. His projects are community-focused in the public, travel, learning, and worship realms. Kyle has also volunteered in various AIA roles at national, regional, and state levels. Jurors noted the broad and deep impact of his service and his leadership within the profession as particularly outstanding, as well as his ability to deliver high design on low-budget projects.

David Wilson, AIA is a passionate and optimistic designer focused on arts, community, and education projects. at HGA in Minneapolis. David tirelessly pursues community impact through design excellence, service, and leadership. Jurors were struck by the quality of his design work and his volunteering as deeply aligned with organizational goals and values.

Read the press release.

2021 Young Architects Award Winners

Doug Bergert, AIA, is an architect and Senior Project Designer with the Minneapolis studio of Perkins & Will, where he’s engaged in the design of cultural, corporate, and education building projects. Jurors were impressed by his attention to detail in both large and small projects, as well as his service as an educator and researcher, in selecting him to receive this award.

Jacob Mans, AIAis a founding member of the Decentralized Design Lab and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. Through his research, teaching and practice he focuses on understanding the relationships and feedback between building-scaled technical systems and large-scaled socioecological systems. Jurors noted his innovative contributions to design, his commitment to design solutions for underserved populations, and his dedication to mentoring the next generation of the profession in recognizing him with this award.

Samantha Turnock Mendiola, AIA, is a Senior Project Designer at HGA. Through her understanding of architectural, brand, place-making, and graphic design, Samantha develops innovative ways to deliver beautiful environments with purpose. Her thoughtful solutions focus on how individuals relate to their environment, and to one another. Jurors were impressed by her steady leadership, her human-centered design philosophy, and her ability to beautifully transform environments and experiences in honoring her work.

Nate Steuerwald, AIA, is an associate at VJAA, Inc. Nate’s commitment to high design standards; focus and work ethic make him a valued leader and collaborator. His passion for material craft is seen in a range of building types, extending to each project’s realization. Jurors cited his service to AIA and the excellence of his design work at all scales as notable within the profession.

Read the press release.

2020 Young Architects Award Winners

Jennifer Christiaansen, AIA, is Associate Principal and Operations Director at Perkins and Will Minneapolis. Working as a “deep generalist” in architecture–within design, practice, service and research–Jennifer is able to innovate and ultimately give back through her work. The jury noted her dedicated service to the architecture community and her firm in equity, diversity, and inclusion, and the strength and impact of her public projects and materials research as key elements of her work to be recognized with this award.

Dagmara Larsen, AIA, is a Principal at MSR Design. She is a dedicated architect recognized for her commitment to designing equitable, sustainable, and human-centric, award-winning projects for a wide range of organizations and individual clients. The jury celebrated her excellence in design and strong voice in library and higher education design, which has a significant impact on communities, and her role as a firm leader in honoring her work.

Daniel Yudchitz, AIA,
is a Senior Design Architect at LEO A DALY in Minneapolis. He has guided award-winning designs at multiple scales and brings a hands-on approach that focuses on strategic design moves that maximize economy and performance through impactful forms and spaces. The jury noted the innovation and experimentation in design thinking represented in Dan’s body of work, and also his work in projects that spur affordability and public health as deeply relevant to the mission of AIA Minnesota.

Read the press release.

2019 Young Architects Award Winners

Donovan Nelson, AIA is a senior project designer and Associate Vice President at HGA. His work is rooted in solutions that enhance the human experience of being cared for, visiting, or working in healthcare facilities. Jurors noted the ways in which his work elevated design in this crucial category.

Amber Sausen, AIA is a senior associate at Alliiance. Amber is a committed leader, a thoughtful designer, and a passionate teacher. Working locally and internationally, Amber celebrates and promotes the power of architecture and the arts to build community. Jurors recognized Amber’s commitment to advancing the understanding of the value of architecture to the broader community and leadership of AIA Minnesota initiatives.

Jesse Turck, AIA is an architect and project manager at BWBR. He has demonstrated his expertise and passion for sustainable design and climate change advocacy through his architectural work and service to the community. The jury was impressed with the global scale of his climate advocacy and his work on climate initiatives with AIA Minnesota.

Jill Vowels, AIA is a project architect and associate at Perkins + Will.Jill dares to persistently advocate for equitable engagement in space through empathetic and vulnerable design and innovation. With purposeful integration, Jill propagates hope and invigorates curiosity that helps elevate our communities to their greater purpose.The jury noted her work on complex projects and the clear impact she has on good design.

Read the press release.

Past Young Architects Award Recipients

Download a list of past AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award recipients.

AIA National Young Architects Award

Recipients of the AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award are encouraged to submit for the AIA National Young Architects Award. To date, 32 AIA Minnesota architects have received the national award, including: Vicki L. Hooper, AIA, and Joan Soranno, FAIA, in 1993; William Blanski, FAIA, 1995; Michael Fischer, AIA, and Robert Rothman, AIA, 1996; Jeffrey Kagermeier, AIA, 2001; Mohammed Lawal, FAIA, 2002; Paul Neuhaus, AIA, 2003; Janis LaDouceur, AIA, 2004; James Dayton, AIA, 2005; Philip Koski, AIA, 2007; Michael Meehan, AIA, 2008; Matthew Kreilich, FAIA, and Michael Schellin, AIA, 2009; Steven Dwyer, FAIA, 2011; Timothy Bicknell, AIA, 2012; John Dwyer, AIA, and Alissa D. Luepke Pier, AIA, 2013; Bob Ganser, AIA, Amy Kalar, AIA, and Karen Lu, AIA, 2016; Angela Wolf Scott, AIA, and Malini Srivastava, AIA, 2018; James Garrett Jr., FAIA, NOMA, 2019; Meredith Hayes Gordon, AIA, Damaris Melo, AIA, NOMA, Amber Sausen, AIA, and Jesse Turck, AIA, 2020; Dagmara Larsen, AIA, and Daniel Yudchitz, AIA, 2021; and Simona Fischer, AIA, and David Wilson, AIA, 2023. For more information about the national AIA Young Architect Award, visit AIA Young Architects Award.