Pictured above: Minnesota recipients of the 2020 AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award (left to right) Jennifer Christiaansen, AIA; Dagmara Larsen, AIA; and Daniel Yudchitz, AIA.

Submissions for the 2021 AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award are now closed. Submissions will open again in spring 2022.

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.


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.


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

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.

2018 Young Architects Award Winners

Michael Kisch, AIA is a Design Project Manager at the University of Minnesota. In addition, he is a Planning Commissioner for the City of Brooklyn Park, and has been an active voice on advisory boards and committees for various industry organizations and communities around the metro. He is currently serving as President-Elect on the AIA Minneapolis Board of Directors and has been an active member on numerous committees of AIA Minnesota over the years. Jurors noted Kisch’s dedication to public service and the advancement of the profession demonstrated by his leadership as a citizen architect in our community. 

Heidi Neumueller, AIA is an associate at Cuningham Group Architecture. In addition to creating a strong design portfolio, Heidi was also a key part of developing the AIA Minnesota Leadership FORUM, which provides hands-on training for emerging leaders in the profession. She also helped develop the AIA Minnesota Emerging Professionals Draughting Club, which provides connection and networking for young architects. Her dedication to advancing the profession of architecture impressed the jury.

Matthew Tierney, AIA is an architect and director of research at Snow Kreilich Architects. Jurors noted his commitment to service-driven design, including design for a school in Kibera Slum in Kenya, as well as his ability to work beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture and help others develop skills for success. Tierney is the first graduate of the Master of Science in Research Practices program at the University of Minnesota and brings his unique perspective into his practice to improve results for his clients and colleagues.

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

In addition to the AIA Minnesota Young Architects Award, recipients of this award are encouraged to submit for the AIA National Young Architects Award. To date, 27 AIA Minnesota architects have received an AIA National Young Architects Award, including: Vicki L. Hooper, AIA, and Joan M. Soranno, FAIA, both 1993; William A. Blanski, FAIA, 1995; Michael Fischer, AIA, and Robert Rothman, AIA, both 1996; Jeffry Kagermeier, AIA, 2001; Mohammed Lawal, AIA, 2002; Paul Neuhaus, AIA, 2003;  James Dayton, AIA, 2005; Philip Koski, AIA, 2007; Michael Meehan, AIA, 2008; Matthew Kreilich, FAIA, and Michael Schellin, AIA, both 2009; Steven Dwyer, AIA, 2011; Timothy Bicknell, AIA, 2012; and John Dwyer, AIA, and Alissa D. Luepke Pier, AIA, both 2013; Bob Ganser, AIA, Karen Lu, AIA, and Amy Kalar, AIA, all 2016; Angela Wolf Scott, AIA, and Malini Srivastava, AIA, both in 2018; James Garrett Jr., AIA, NOMA, in 2019; Meredith Hayes Gordon, AIA, Damaris Melo, AIA, NOMA, Amber Sausen, AIA, and Jesse Turck, AIA, in 2020. For more information about the national AIA Young Architect Award, visit AIA Young Architects Award.