Architectural Excellence Awards Celebrate the Resilience of Pennsylvania’s Design and Construction Industry

HARRISBURG, November 24, 2020 – The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects is proud to formally announce the 2020 Architectural Excellence Awards. Over 400 viewers tuned into the awards broadcast debut on November 19th. The evening’s broadcast kicked off with an encouraging message from AIA Pennsylvania President, Marc Mondor, AIA

stream the broadcast

More than 80 awards and recognitions were presented to firms and individuals across Pennsylvania for excellence in design, contributions to the profession of architecture, and commitment to the quality of the built environment. The broadcast debuted honors in five programs including the Design Awards, inaugural Architectural Excellence Committee on the Environment (COTE) Awards, Special Awards, and Student Awards. Twenty-six (26) architecture firms were honored for their support and development of emerging architecture professionals with the 2020 EPiC Firm Recognition

meet the 26 EPiC Firm honorees

This year’s Architectural Excellence Design Awards jury was headed up by one of the most recognized and influential architects in the country, Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, of Olson Kundig. Tom called on two influential Seattle-based jurors; Ed Weinstein, FAIA of Weinstein A+U, and Peter Miller of Peter Miller Architectural & Design Books and Supplies, who rounded out the jury.

Reflecting on the importance of celebrating great architecture, Tom emphasized the omnipresent role of architecture in our everyday lives, “Architecture, right now and always, has been about the human condition…For me it’s (architecture) not a now thing, it’s an always thing.”

From 140 submissions, the jury selected one project to receive the most distinguished design award. DIGSAU’s Jefferson School Middle School Building (pictured below) was honored with the Silver Medal. The remaining 17 projects were honored with AIA Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Design Awards at the Honor and Merit levels of commendation.

visit the 2020 submissions gallery

visit the 2020 design awards recipient gallery

A Seattle-based jury of AIA COTE (Committee on the Environment) peers including Brad Benke, AIA, LEED AP BD+C of McLennan Design; Shannon Bunsen, WELL AP, LEED Green Associate of MAZZETTI; and Zachary Stevens, P.E., LEED AP BD+C of WSP virtually convened to review the 34 projects submitted to the inaugural Architectural Excellence COTE Awards. Six projects were selected for their achievements in the AIA Framework for Design Excellence measures indicating how buildings perform for the health and wellness of the occupants, communities, and the environments they serve. 

visit the 2020 COTE awards recipient gallery

In addition, 26 Architectural Excellence Special Awards were presented including the prestigious Medal of Distinction honoring Emanuel Kelly, FAIA (picture below). Emanuel was recognized for his distinguished career and service within the industry including the education of future architects, a sustained commitment to preserving and revitalizing Philadelphia’s communities; and putting into practice the premise that design is for ALL.

Ballinger was honored with the 2020 Architecture Firm Award. The Philadelphia-based firm is one of the oldest architectural practices in the country and is nationally recognized for design excellence and innovation in creating experientially engaging, programmatically demanding, and technically complex buildings that advance science and health. As the recipient of the 50 Year Timeless Award, the George Nakashima Studio and Grounds was celebrated with a documentary short highlighting the enduring style and craft of architect, George Nakashima. Special Awards recipients in six additional categories included the Government Award recognizing 18 citizen architects who have recently served the commonwealth as appointees of the Governor to various state boards, committees, and councils.

visit the 2020 special awards recipient gallery

Additionally, AIA Pennsylvania presented the Architectural Excellence Student Awards to students from Pennsylvania’s seven NAAB-accredited architecture programs. Students were selected by their faculty for proficiency in both academics and design and readiness to take on the challenges and responsibilities of the work environment in an architecture firm.

visit the 2020 student awards recipient gallery

Congratulations to all the recipients! Thank you to our esteemed juries, Special Awards Nomination Committee, Committee on Design Chair, Bob Kelly, AIA, and all awards program participants.

A big thank you to our sponsors for their steadfast support amidst the challenges of 2020!

Platinum Sponsors

Bell Insurance, a full-service insurance agency specializing in serving businesses as well as individuals
Fenner & Esler, provider of insurance and risk management for Architects and Engineers
Microsol Resources, Autodesk Platinum Partner and provider of technology training and support for the building and infrastructure industries
Milber Makris Plousadis & Seiden, providing a wide range of legal services tailored to design professionals with offices in Berwyn,
Offit Kurman, construction law experts specializing in solving professional practice and business challenges for architects and engineers. Office locations in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Plymouth Meeting

Oldcastle APG, North America’s leading manufacturer of concrete building and hardscape products covering a wide spectrum of applications – from the structural masonry, used in erecting cityscapes and urban centers, to the finishing touches of a backyard oasis

COTE Award Sponsor

Atlantic Engineering Services, structural engineering firm with net-zero experience and 450+ LEED projects

Special Award Sponsors




Langan | Special Awards Sponsor
Members 1st | Student Awards Sponsor
Turner Construction | Emerging Professionals Award Sponsor