Left to right: Lonnie Laffen, AIA; Kim Palmer; and Ben Ptacek, AIA

MINNEAPOLIS, September 1
Lonnie Laffen, AIA; Kim Palmer, and Ben Ptacek, AIA, are the recipients of the 2021 AIA Minnesota Collaborative Achievement Award.

Formerly known as the Special Award, the Collaborative Achievement Award seeks to encourage, stimulate, and recognize exceptional contributions made by individuals and organizations that improve the quality of our physical environment. This award celebrates architecture as a collaborative effort that relies on the talents and commitment of many individuals working together to achieve common goals.

Lonnie Laffen, AIA, co-founded the firm currently known as JLG. During his career, the firm became a leader in rural practice, and Mr. Laffen also served in the North Dakota Senate, worked as an educator, and served AIA in many capacities. Jurors noted Lonnie’s far-reaching impact in both design and policy, and his contributions to the future of the profession through mentorship of young professionals and the rural design community as important reasons to celebrate his legacy. Mr. Laffen passed away in late 2020.

Kim Palmer is the recently retired Homes editor at the Star Tribune. In addition to a decades-long dedication to high-quality writing about residential architecture, Kim was instrumental in revitalizing the Home of the Month program at the paper, which brings year-round exposure to architect-designed projects. Jurors noted how impactful Kim’s writing has been on the public’s understanding of architecture, particularly in the residential realm, expanding beyond the Twin Cities and helping to increase awareness of the value architects bring to home projects.

Ben Ptacek, AIA, is an architect at DJR. He has served as co-chair of the AIA Minnesota Housing Advocacy Committee, and for the past decade has been instrumental in protecting and growing the Search for Shelter design charrette program, which provides pro bono design services to nonprofits working in homelessness and affordable housing. It also provides an opportunity for design students to team with working professionals to expand their skills. Jurors noted the importance of Search for Shelter to the organization’s mission of making architecture more accessible to the public, and to mentoring the profession, and that Ben’s work, along with the committee’s, has kept the Minnesota charette alive when all other AIA components and chapters have ended theirs.

The AIA Minnesota Collaborative Achievement Award jury included representatives from AIA Minnesota committees and previous award winners. This year’s submissions were reviewed by Rebecca Muchow, AIA; Kermit Duncan, AIA; Jennifer Christiaansen, AIA; Nicole Bauknight, AIA, NOMA; and Paul Mellblom, FAIA.

The jury noted that as individuals and as a collective, this group of Collaborative Achievement Award recipients embodies the values and goals of AIA Minnesota. Their work encompasses a range of issues essential to advancing the profession, from advancing public awareness of the value of architecture and building and mentoring the future of the profession, to serving the nonprofit and rural communities.

These individuals and their representatives will receive their awards at the annual AIA Minnesota Awards Celebration on December 3, 2021. Learn more about the Collaborative Achievement Award here.

The American Institute of Architects Minnesota, founded in 1892, is dedicated to strengthening our communities, improving our built environment, and providing exceptional design. For more information on the organization and Minnesota architectural firms, reference our website and subscribe to ENTER, our digital weekly newsletter that explores how design is shaping a better built environment for Minnesota.