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News > Advancing Architecture and Design > AIA Philadelphia Announces Annual Award Winners

AIA Philadelphia Announces Annual Award Winners

Awards honor individuals and architecture firms based in Philadelphia.

Please join 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 on December 8, 2022, at 5:30 pm. The ceremony will honor the individual winners of exceptional achievements and the project winners that showcase design excellence. Tickets are available here.

Achievement awards will include the following: the 2022 John Frederick Harbeson Award, Katherine Dowdell, AIA; the 2022 Paul Philippe Cret Award recipient Rose Gray; the 2022 Young Architect Award recipient, Peichao Di, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, PMP; the 2022 Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize recipient Gnome Architects; and the Community Design Collaborative's 2022 Alan Greenberger Award, Sally Harrison.

In addition to the individual awards, the following Philadelphia firms will receive project honors based on a jury selection: Ballinger; CosciaMoos; Erdy McHenry Architecture; ISA; KSS Architects; KieranTimberlake; Moto DesignShop; OOMBRA, PORT Urbanism, and Studio 6MM.

This year's Iowa-based jury included: Khalid Khan, Assoc. AIA, Principal Neumann Monson Architects; Paul Mankins, FAIA, Principal, SubstanceArchitecture; Danielle Hermann, AIA, Principal OPN Architects; and Mindy Aust, AIA, Principal/Owner, MA Architecture. The winning firms will find out which awards they will take home at the Design Awards Celebration on December 8th. 

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.

Katherine Dowdell, AIA, has over 25 years of experience in architecture, interior design, and historic preservation, giving her a strong understanding of planning, architecture, and construction issues, particularly those encountered in older buildings. She is the founding Principal of Farragut Street Architects. Throughout her career, Ms. Dowdell has undertaken a broad range of project types including single and multi-family residential, retail, hotels, institutional buildings, and preservation and adaptive use projects of many types.  This experience gives her a unique understanding of the many issues – and surprises – that one may encounter when working on older buildings. Some notable projects:

705-707 S. 50th Street: Two classic West Philadelphia rowhouses, long ago converted to commercial use and adjacent to the bustling Dock Street Brew Pub in the former Firehouse at 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue, were purchased and redeveloped by the owner of the Firehouse. Many of the original features were long gone or severely altered; the few remaining elements were saved and restored where possible, as in the charming side porch on 708 South 50th Street. Interiors were updated and are now leased to a variety of community-based small businesses and non-profits.

1000 S. Saint Bernard Street: A rare industrial building in a Victorian-era residential neighborhood, 1000 S. Saint Bernard Street has been adapted to a residential mixed-use building. This building was vacant for a number of years; most recently, it housed a banqueting hall, but it was originally built in the 1920s as a warehouse. Speculation is that the building was constructed soon after the adjacent stretch of Springfield Avenue was depressed to create an underpass under the existing adjacent rail line. The building serves as a transition from the quiet residential block to the south to busy Springfield Avenue on the north, and its south wall serves as a retaining wall at the rear of the property.

The two-story structure is a classic brick factory-style building, approximately 8,000 s.f. per floor. Because of the change in grade described above, the long southern wall is below grade at the first floor, and windowless at the second floor, creating a challenging situation for reuse on both floors. The owner was able to overcome these inherent limitations by creating long rectangular loft apartments, one per window, on the second floor, and creating a single large commercial space on the first floor. 

Cedar Park Renovation: This three-story Victorian twin in West Philadelphia had been neglected and vacant for a number of years. Purchased by a near neighbor, the house was completely renovated, inside and out, with an eye to preserving as many of the existing details as possible, while creating a comfortable and contemporary house.  Work included a reconfiguration of the first floor to expand the kitchen and add a powder room; new bathroom finishes and fixtures on the second and third floors; plaster and woodwork repair and replacement throughout; refinished and new floors; and exterior repair work, including a rebuilt front porch and a new deck at the back.  The house has been sold to the neighbor’s daughter, who is moving in with her young family.

Ms. Dowdell is being recognized for her steadfast, passionate, and enthusiastic championing of her fellow architects. Her activism, mentorship, and her finesse when advocating for a building or fellow colleagues is extraordinary. She has been instrumental in the success of her students and fellow colleagues – all while also being a successful architect and professor. She served for many years on the board of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, including three years as board chair, and she remains active as a member of their Advocacy Committee. She is an active member of the building and property committees at the Wagner Free Institute, and the Woodlands in West Philadelphia; she also serves on the board of directors at the Wagner. Ms. Dowdell has been an adjunct professor at Drexel University, and Jefferson University.

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.

Rose V. Gray, is the Senior Vice President of Community and Economic Development at Asociación Puertorriqueños En Marcha (APM), a non-profit community development corporation in North Philadelphia. Since joining the organization in 1990, Ms. Gray has been actively engaged in the revitalization of eastern North Philadelphia, a diverse community that has historically been comprised of Latinos and African Americans. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of APM’s community-based revitalization plan, from community organizing to planning and development. In addition to the physical redevelopment work, Ms. Gray manages APM’s rental and commercial portfolio as well as a housing counseling program providing budgeting, pre-, and post-mortgage counseling, credit repair, weatherization, and basic system repair programs to persons of low and moderate-income.

During her tenure at APM, Ms. Gray has successfully leveraged over $280 million in investments to implement a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy. She has developed over 350 units of affordable housing, which include low-income housing tax credit projects and the successful Pradera home development, a 153-unit homeownership zone within walking distance of Borinquen Plaza — another APM project consisting of 44,000 square feet of retail space including a supermarket, laundromat, and credit union. In addition, Ms.Gray was responsible for the Paseo VerdeTtransit-Oriented Development(TOD), a mixed-use development that houses 120 units of market/affordable rental units and 30,000 square feet of retail/office space that consist of a Federally Qualified Health Center, a pharmacy, fitness gym, community center and APM headquarters. The Paseo Verde TOD received triple LEED Platinum status in 2014 and is the first LEED Platinum Neighborhood Development in the Nation and second in the World.

Since 2014, Ms. Gray has focused on the preservation of existing affordable housing stock and through the Low-Income-Housing Tax Credit program has been able to extend the life of 145 units of affordable rental housing for an additional 40 years.

Currently, Ms. Gray is supervising the construction of Camino De Oro, a 44-unit affordable senior development and is in the process of closing on the preservation of Jardine’s 45-unit general population Low-income Housing Tax Credit Development (LIHTC) development extending its affordable for an additional 40 years.

Ms. Gray is a civic leader. She was one of seven delegates appointed by Governor Ridge to the “Summit for America’s Future”. She served as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Board on Community and Economic Development from 2012-2018 and serves on various boards and committees, TRF New Market Advisory Board, the Urban Land Institute, the Design Collaborative, and was re-elected as the Board President for the Philadelphia Association of Community Development corporations. Ms. Gray was appointed to the Commission on Aging by Mayor Michael Nutter in 2011 and was re-appointed in 2016 and served in this position until 2019 under Mayor Kenny.

Ms. Gray is a guest lecturer at Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College and Rutgers New Brunswick Campus.

Ms. Gray is being recognized for her significant contributions to the built environment in Philadelphia through her community-informed design, development and advocacy work. Her accomplishments speak for themselves and the architectural community is very grateful for her leadership.

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.

Peichao Di, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, PMP, moved to the United States from China in 2015 to earn his Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, Peichao has been a valued member of CosciaMoos’ design staff and is AIA certified, LEED and WELL AP accredited architect. Peichao is actively involved in all phases of projects and works in the mixed-use, multi-family housing, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. He is an active UPenn Alumni and member of the Penn Weitzman Alumni Association and volunteers reviewing current students’ portfolios and future student admissions. He views Philly as his home away from China and looks forward to future visits back to his home country. 

Mr. Di’s design expertise at CosciaMoos on several projects has borne recognition with design awards on the following projects: The Poplar – 2021 Excellence in Construction Award | Associated Builders & Contractors Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter; Marriott at Pencoyd Landing – 2021 Best Design Award | Architect’s Newspaper in the Urban Design Category; and the Hamilton Court Amenities Building – 2016 AIA Philadelphia Merit Award in the Unbuilt Category.

Beyond these few examples of Mr. Di’s project experience, he was recognized as deserving of this award for his mentorship and giving back to continue to improve the experience for all students, especially international students who are dealing with the cultural adjustment of living in the United States, along with the rigor of the Penn academic program.  Recently, Mr. Di was elected as the Vice President of the Penn Weitzman Alumni Association. As the first Vice President of the organization with an international background, he is motivated to contribute to the development of the Weitzman School of Design, and hopes to show fellow immigrants they can succeed in the field of architecture.

Philadelphia Emerging Architecture (PEA) Prize recognizes a Philadelphia firm that has been established and licensed within the past ten years for its high-quality design and innovative thought. 

Gnome Architects, founded in 2014 by Gabriel Deck under the name GJDesign and Architecture, completed 100+ projects, including single-family renovations and new construction homes in many of Philadelphia’s developing neighborhoods. Derek Spencer joined the firm as Partner and Design Director in 2017 when the business moved into its current location in South Philadelphia's BOK Building.

With only four employees in 2019, the firm officially underwent a re-branding to become Gnome Architects, a shift that exhibited the company's evolution into a multifaceted residential design firm. Gnome Architects now employs a team of eight and has completed over 400 projects. The scale and typology of Gnome’s work continue to grow, with multi-family and mixed-use buildings of 50+ units, and custom homes outside of the Philadelphia area, including New Jersey, Maine, and Colorado.

Gnome has also been fortunate enough to give back to the community with pro bono projects for the Philadelphia School District, as well as The Ertz Foundation, which is currently renovating a church and community center in North Philadelphia. Some other notable projects include:

1513 Pine Street: Five, new construction, single-family homes in the heart of Center City. With approval from the Philadelphia Historical Commission, this urban infill project has been designed with materials and proportions that complement the historic nature of the street.

1621 Bainbridge Street: A new construction condo building in Graduate Hospital, set within a block of traditional red brick row homes, the design of its façade explores the use of patterns and shifts with contextual materials to create a new aesthetic language on the street.

1850 Woodside: This project consisted of a renovation and addition to an existing home in Newtown, PA. The original stone structure was once a schoolhouse and, over the years, had been converted into a residence with multiple additions. The new owners wanted to create a space to entertain and grow their family, which led to a design that included the addition of an open-concept living, kitchen, and dining space, along with a double-sided fireplace to connect to the outdoor living and entertaining spaces.

1723 Francis Street: Constructed as an assisted living facility in the Francisville neighborhood, the original building was rich with historical details and high ceilings, which made it ideal for adaptive reuse into a condo building. Working with the developer and the neighborhood association, the design incorporates the original corner building with a contemporary addition that houses a ground-floor parking garage, and 24 residential units.

Alan Greenberger Award recognizes Community Design Collaborative leaders/volunteers and AIA members for their commitment and service to our mission. This people award is named after Alan Greenberger, FAIA, and is presented at the AIA Design Awards.

Sally Harrison, AIA, is Professor of Architecture at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. A registered architect, educator, and scholar, her creative work and research explore the social impacts of design. She involves her students in these questions, teaching courses in social activism, architectural and urban design, and urban history/theory.

Sally is the leader and co-founder of The Urban Workshop, an interdisciplinary university-based collaborative undertaking engaged research, design, and design-build projects in underserved neighborhoods and for organizations where questions of social justice, creative expression, and community building are played out in the physical environment. With funding from the US Department of Education, EPA, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, as well as community partners, she has led architecture and neighborhood design projects with Habitat for Humanity, the Village of Arts and Humanities, the New Kensington CDC, and APM. She is currently engaged in NEA-funded research and design project with Variety, the Children’s Charity. 

Harrison’s work has been published in books and academic journals, including the Journal of Urban Design, The Plan Journal, Enquiry, Int/AR, and others. She has received national and local recognition for her work: the Research Award from Architecture Magazine, an Honorable Mention from SEED, an Honor Award and Citation of Merit from AIA PA, and the Leverage Award from the Community Design Collaborative of Philadelphia. She is a co-founder of the Community Design Collaborative of Philadelphia and serves on its Advisory Council. Ms. Harrison received her Master of Architecture from MIT, her BA from University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Harrison is being recognized for her significant contributions to community-engaged design and her mentorship of her students to appreciate the importance and difficulty of thoughtful and long-term investments in communities as part of a sustainable and equitable design practice.

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

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