Meet the 2023 AIA Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Design Awards Jurors

In 2023, the AIA Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Design Awards jury will be chaired by Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, LEED AP, Founding Partner, Johnsen Schmaling Architects. Sebastian will be joined by fellow Milwaukee-based architects, practitioners, and educators, Mo Zell, ACSA, AIA, and Allen Washatko, AIA. The jury will meet in late August to deliberate on the submissions to this year’s Architectural Excellence Design Awards. Read on to learn more about the jurors and what they seek in this year’s submissions. [Pictured above, left to right: Schmaling, Zell, Washatko]

Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, LEED AP
Founding Partner, Johnsen Schmaling Architects


Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, LEED AP is a founding partner of Johnsen Schmaling Architects, a Milwaukee-based research and design practice widely recognized as a distinct voice in contemporary architecture. Informed by innovative tectonic and material experimentations, Johnsen Schmaling’s critically acclaimed work has been praised for its conceptual eloquence, formal precision, and profound simplicity. It has garnered over 100 professional design awards here and abroad and is the subject of the recently released monograph Johnsen Schmaling: On Rigor. Schmaling grew up in Berlin and holds graduate degrees from the Technical University Berlin, the University of University of Wisconsin, and Harvard University.


It is certainly an accomplishment to create a building that’s functional and pleases the client – but that alone shouldn’t make it an award-winning project; it’s just the baseline for what architects are expected to deliver. I will instead be looking for projects that propose interesting, original solutions to a given set of challenges or constraints – buildings that offer new impulses in our profession’s ongoing quest for programmatic innovation, environmental sustainability, and yes, beauty, regardless of budget and scale.

Mo Zell, ACSA, AIA
Interim Dean, UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning; Principal, bauenstudio


Mo Zell is the incoming interim dean of the new College of the Arts and Architecture at UWM. Prior to this appointment, Mo served in leadership roles at UWM as Interim Dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP), Associate Dean and Department Chair. She created a number of programs including the SARUP externship, SUPERjury, the SARUP Mobile Design Box and Women in Design Milwaukee.

Mo is also the principal of the design firm, Bauenstudio. Work of the firm has been recognized with several design awards including a Boston Society of Architecture (BSA) Honor Award, a Boston Society of Landscape Architecture (BSLA) Merit Award and an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Faculty Design Award. Bauenstudio was featured in Architecture Record as an emerging practice to watch. Mo has presented her design research and teaching scholarship in conferences and lectures across the United States, Europe, and Latin America and has been PI or co-PI on several grants including a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) grant.

She recently completed the second edition to her book, The Architectural Drawing Course. The new edition includes projects related to installation and the process of building at full scale. Many of the projects from her innovative studio partnership with the Chipstone Foundation can be found in the revised version. The first edition sold 40,000 copies worldwide between 2008 and 2016.

She currently serves as the Vice President/President Elect of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Mo completed her B.S. in Architecture from the University of Virginia with a minor in Mathematics and her Master of Architecture from Yale University.


Good architecture combines innovations of space or material while addressing the needs of the users. Great architecture leverages constraints as an opportunity and considers the public and extended community when making design decisions.

Allen Washatko, AIA


Allen Washatko is the Co-Founder of The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc (TKWA), a 25-person planning and architecture firm with offices in Cedarburg, WI, Milwaukee, WI, and Seattle, WA. Allen founded TKWA in 1980 in collaboration with University of Illinois classmate Thomas Kubala.

From its inception, the TKWA studio approach has been based on the idea of Wholeness, where the built environment supports and enhances both human activity and natural living systems. The idea of sustainability is a natural extension of wholeness-based thinking and is integrated into every studio project. It is this evolving philosophy which has formed the basis for the firm’s work. Rather than specializing in any particular building style or type, TKWA has focused on a distinct process for design, which provides the ability to solve problems for diverse building types and planning projects. As a result, the firm has developed a wide-ranging practice with projects in thirty states, as well as in Costa Rica, Belgium, Japan, India and China. TKWA projects have been published in over fifteen countries and in seven languages.

Throughout the firm’s 42-year history, TKWA has received over 80 state and national awards for design, including two national AIA COTE Top Ten Green Building projects – the Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and the First Unitarian Society Meeting House Addition in Madison, Wisconsin. TKWA also received the national ‘Wright Spirit Award’ from the Frank Lloyd Building Conservancy for their sensitive addition to Wright’s National Historic Landmark Unitarian Meeting House. TKWA was also awarded the AIA Wisconsin Firm Award, which is the highest recognition given by the state’s professional service organization.


Design excellence will be judged based on the level of Wholeness exhibited in the solution.

  1. Does the project support and enhance both the human activity involved and the natural living systems of which it is a part?
  2. Is it regenerative at the larger scale?
  3. Does the project respond to local, regional and cultural influences?
  4. Does the work embody a level of craft?
  5. Does it create vibrancy within the larger public/urban realm?