AIA Philadelphia Announces 2021 Individual Award Winners

Individuals honored for achievements in the architecture industry.

  • png

Philadelphia, PA, November 23, 2021 – Please join the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Philadelphia) in congratulating the individuals and architecture firms receiving the Chapter's highest honors. The annual Design Awards Celebration will be presented in person and virtually on December 2, 2021 at 5:30pm. The ceremony will honor the individual winners of exceptional achievements and the project winners that showcase design excellence. 


Achievement awards will include the following: 2021 John Frederick Harbeson Award, Nancy Rogo Trainer, FAIA; the 2021 Paul Philippe Cret Award recipient David Brownlee; the 2021 Young Architect Award recipients, Nate Sunderhaus, AIA, and the 2021 Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize recipient Lauren Thomsen Design.

This year's Detroit, Michigan jury included: Elizabeth Knibbe, FAIA - Principal, Quinn Evans – Ann Arbor; Chris Heine, AIA, LEED AP BD+C - Sustainability Leader, SmithGroup; and Thomas Affeldt, AIA - Senior Designer, M1/DTW.  The winning firms will find out which awards they will take home at the Design Awards Celebration.


The John Frederick Harbeson Award is presented annually to a long-standing member of the architectural community and is intended to recognize their significant contributions to the architectural profession and its related disciplines over their lifetime. The recipient of this award will distinguish themselves throughout their career by their contributions to the architectural profession, the American Institute of Architects, the education of the architectural community, and their contributions to the Philadelphia community at large.


Nancy Rogo Trainer, FAIA, Nancy Rogo Trainer has been a member of the adjunct faculty of Drexel University since 1990. She is currently Drexel’s University Architect and Associate Vice President for Facilities, where she leads planning, design and construction activities. Prior to joining the University administrative staff in 2013, Nancy was a principal at Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates and its successor firm, providing design and planning services to colleges, universities, and cultural institutions. Her work includes campus plans, museums, student centers, and libraries – design that helps build community by integrating social, strategic, and physical goals. She was a 2012-2013 William Penn Foundation Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, where her research focused on 20th century Rome’s adaption to rapid population growth. She was a member of the Philadelphia Planning Commission and Chair of the Philadelphia Civic Design Review Committee. She was elevated to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows in 2012, and has served on AIA’s national Jury of Fellows. Nancy is being recognized for her service and leadership to the City of Philadelphia and within the architecture community at the city, state and national level, specifically her leadership on the City’s Planning Commission and the Civic Design Review Board, as well her stewardship at Drexel University as the University Architect. 


The Paul Philippe Cret Award recognizes individuals or organizations who are not architects but who have made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the design of buildings, structures, landscapes, and the public realm of Greater Philadelphia.


David B. Brownlee, is the Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor Emeritus of 19th Century European Art at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a historian of modern architecture whose interests embrace a wide range of subjects in Europe and America, from the late eighteenth century to the present.


His scholarship has been recognized with three major publication prizes from the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). He served the SAH as editor of its Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians in 2008-2011, when he oversaw the launch of JSAH online, the magazine’s multimedia online platform. The SAH named him a Fellow in 2015 and established the David B. Brownlee Dissertation Award in his honor in 2020.


Professor Brownlee has curated or co-curated several major exhibitions, including “Building the City Beautiful” (Philadelphia Museum of Art), “Louis I. Kahn” (Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art), and “Out of the Ordinary: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates” (Philadelphia Museum of Art). His curatorial seminars have engaged students in these projects and also created several smaller exhibitions, including “Penn in the World,” co-curated with Ann Blair Brownlee (Penn Museum; tour here:


After chairing the committees that proposed the reshaping of the University of Pennsylvania's undergraduate residences in 1997, he directed the implementation of a comprehensive system of College Houses and served as Director of the Office of College Houses and Academic Services for four years. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award of the College Alumni Society and the University's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.


Active in civic affairs, Professor Brownlee served for 16 years on the Philadelphia Historical Commission, and he serves on the boards of the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Beth Sholom Preservation Foundation, and the Global Philadelphia Association’s World Heritage City project. In recognition of public service, he received the Wyck Strickland Award and the "Globy" Lifetime Achievement Award of the Global Philadelphia Association.



The Young Architect Award, presented by AIA Philadelphia's Steering Committee of Fellows, seeks to recognize registered architect(s) between the ages of 25 and 39 for their contribution to the categories of leadership, practice, and service.


Nate Sunderhaus, AIA, is an Associate and Senior Designer at BLTa.  Nate is a graduate of University of Cincinnati and has worked at SOM in San Francisco, and Erdy McHenry in Philadelphia, before coming to BLTa.  At BLTa, he has increasingly transformed the firm’s design presence in the Philadelphia community.  Nate’s design leadership on several projects has borne recognition with design awards on the following projects: Lincoln Square – Multi-Housing News Bronze Medal winning mixed use and Curbed’s Best New Building of 2018; One City at 1401 Arch Street – Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Award winner; and Lancaster Square – a competition-winning, master planned compendium of four mixed-use buildings that kicks off with a deftly sited and sculptural residential building in Buffalo NY.   


Beyond these few examples of Nate’s project experience, which are reconstructing of BLTa’s market presence and portfolio, he has consistently complemented his several Project Managers and principals all while grooming each junior teammate for increasing responsibility within the firm.  He co-leads the firm’s internal Design Review Committee, responsible for design quality of all the firm’s commissions.  He holds direct responsibility for monthly Gallery events, where all staff members are invited to present their work (for the firm and/or personal interests), serving to identify and further groom talented professionals already on-staff.  


The annual Philadelphia Emerging Architect Prize recognizes a Philadelphia firm that has been established and licensed within the past ten years for its high-quality design and innovative thought.  


Lauren Thomsen Design is a full service architectural design firm based in Philadelphia. Their approach to design is based on a fundamental belief in the value of space, and its ability to enrich people's lives. They take on projects of a broad range of programs and contexts in the office, and work closely with their clients to understand context and to define the unique story of each project. They establish clear project goals, thrive on structure and good communication, and prefer to be involved from design concept through construction and occupancy.


They love not only the outcome, but the process of design, and it is their goal to make sure that their clients do too. Working holistically, they lead interdisciplinary project teams to deliver interesting, sustainable, and well coordinated design solutions through the use of innovative digital tools and our expertise in material and building systems. 


LTD is a certified woman owned business with the WBENC and a Local Business Entity with the City of Philadelphia.


The Community Design Collaborative’s (Collaborative) Alan Greenberger Award, named after Alan Greenberger, FAIA, and former Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia, recognizes leaders/volunteers and AIA Members for their commitment and service to the organization’s mission.


Howard Lebold, President of McGillin Architecture, began his career in the Philadelphia area after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University. After a quick stint as a staff architect at Architectural Concepts, he was hired by Jim McGillin as the CAD Manager at Richard J. Cureton, AIA, PC. The recession in 1990 brought Howard into the city to work for Ueland & Junker, Architects and Planners where he eventually became an Associate. It was during this time, that Howard help found the Community Design Collaborative, serving the organization in many roles, including being one of their initial board co-chairs. In 1998, Jim McGillin convinced Howard to join McGillin Architecture as a principal, where he has worked for the past 23 years, becoming firm President, three years ago.


Howard’s other professional affiliations include formerly serving as a Director in AIA Philadelphia, which led to his election into the Carpenters’ Company of the City & County of Philadelphia, where he currently serves as Treasurer. Howard is also a Leadership Philadelphia graduate, is an Elder at First Presbyterian Church in WC, and serves as Vice Chair of the Advisory Board for the Devereux PA.

Congratulations to all of the individuals and firms recognized for their exceptional achievements in design.






About AIA Philadelphia

AIA Philadelphia organizes architects in the region for the purpose of advancing their influence in shaping the built environment, and their ability to effectively practice architecture in an ever-changing society and competitive marketplace. The Chapter provides opportunities for professional development, service, and collegiality among peers. Founded in 1869, it is among the oldest and most distinguished of AIA Chapters with more than 1,500 architect members. For more information visit:

About DesignPhiladelphia Community

We foster a vibrant design community from K through Career committed to excellence, inclusivity and connections. As an invaluable partner in Philadelphia’s progress we do that through multidisciplinary design education, our annual festival, and public programs about design.

Contact details

Receive DesignPhiladelphia Community news on your RSS reader.

Or subscribe through Atom URL manually