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Another view of Arman Chowdhury’s Award Winning Entry

NOMA Inducts Incoming President Jason Pugh and Recognizes Outgoing President Kimberly Dowdell for Her Leadership During Largest Conference on the Eve of NOMA’s 50th Year

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 19, 2020

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) concluded their first virtual conference Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, with industry architecture awards, honoring leadership and social, economic, and environmental design, for professionals and students. At the most widely attended NOMA conference, with over 1,600 registrants, the online audience also honored outgoing NOMA President Kimberly Dowdell, NOMAC, AIA, NCARB, SEED, LEED AP BD+C, and inducted incoming NOMA President Jason Pugh, NOMA, AIA, AICP, LEED AP. Pugh’s two-year presidential term will start Jan. 1, 2021, which is also the beginning of NOMA’s 50th year. 

“NOMA’s awards ceremony is an annual highlight for NOMA members, when we step back, reflect and take stock of accomplishments, from those beginning their architecture journey as students, to those completing licensure, and so many who are changing their communities through built work,” said Dowdell. “With this being my last ceremony as president, the awards meant even more, acknowledging leadership, allied partners, and the NOMA family that has made the success of this unprecedented year possible. NOMA has achieved so much in our first 49 years and we look forward to engaging our members and the broader architecture community to further expand our impact over the next 50 years.”


The Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards were presented to the following NOMA member firms:

  • Vision Category – Honor Award: Perkins & Will, Yanel de Angel, NOMA, FAIA, Principal, Resilient Planning at Multiple Scales, Autonomous Municipality of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Focused on climate change impacts, the plan focuses on a two-phased approach: 1) Restore the ecology and 2) Develop a social and civic infrastructure.
  • Built Category – Honor Award: Moody Nolan, Inc., Curtis J. Moody, FAIA, NOMA, NCARB, LEED AP, Architect of Record / Design Architect, Columbus Metropolitan Library – Martin Luther King Branch, Columbus, Ohio
  • Historic Preservation, Restoration & Renovation Category – Honor Award: Studio Figure, Nicholas Brinen, NOMA, Architect of Record, Potters Craft Cider at Neve Hall, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Unbuilt Category – Honor Award: AECOM Detroit, Pierre Roberson, NOMA, AIA, Principle Design Architect, YMCA Flint, Flint, Michigan
  • Small Projects Category – Honor Award: SmithGroup, Dayton Schroeter, Principal Design Architect, Society’s Cage, Washington, D.C.

The professional awards jurors included: Tonja Adair, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Splice Studios, Inc.; Nicole Hollant-Denis, AIA, NOMA, Aaris Design Studios, PLLC; and Edward Douglas Dunson, II, AIA, NOMA, NCARB Architect / Associate Professor of Architecture


This year ACADIA and Autodesk joined the awards program by creating a new category specifically for computational design. In the professional lineup they awarded:

  • 1st Place: SmithGroup “Society’s Cage”
  • Honorable Mention: Perkins&Will “Resilient Planning at Multiple Scales: Puerto Rico”

NOMA Awards

During the awards ceremony, Dowdell, HOK Principal, and Anzilla Gilmore, FAIA, Rice University’s assistant director for project management and engineering, were both elevated to the National Organization of Minority Architects Council (NOMAC), the highest level of recognition within NOMA. The following leadership awards were announced:

  • President’s Award in Access: Melanie Ray, NOMA, AIA, LEED Green Assoc., NCARB; Justin Taplet, NOMA, AIA; Craig Aquart, NOMA, AIA; Kathy Dixon, NOMAC, FAIA
  • President’s Award in Leadership: Antoine Bryant, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, APA; June Grant, NOMA, RA, SF NOMA President; Rod Henmi, NOMA, FAIA, LEED AP; Tya Winn, NOMA, Assoc. AIA
  • President’s Award in Legacy: R. Steven Lewis, NOMAC, FAIA; William (Bill) J. Stanley, III, NOMAC, FAIA; Ralph Jackson, FAIA, NOMA; Bryan Hudson, NOMAC, AIA
  • President’s Award : Tiffany Mayhew, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, NOMA Program Manager
  • Founder’s Award: Joel Avery, NOMA, NOMA’s Chief Information Officer
  • NOMA Member of the Year: Tiffany Brown, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, MBA, NOMA Executive Manager
  • NOMA Chapter of the Year: SoCal NOMA
  • NOMA Most Improved Chapter: NC NOMA

NOMA partnered with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Design Corps for this year’s NOMA/NAACP/SEED Awards. Dowdell is a co-founder of the Social, Economic, and Environmental Design (SEED) Network, established in 2005. The awards highlight the built and conceptual projects in architecture, community design, and economic development that exemplify justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI). The following projects were named 2020 SEED/JEDI Award Winners:

The SEED/JEDI Awards jurors included: Carl Anthony, architect, author and urban/suburban/regional design strategist; Kimberly Dowdell, NOMA President; Maya Henderson, sustainability professional; Christopher Lee, AIA, Mark Cavagneo Associates; Marquis Miller, Chief Diversity Officer, City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor; Jacqui Patterson, Environmental and Climate Justice, NAACP; Paloma Pavel, Earth House Center; Laura Shipman, Community Development and Planning, One Treasure Island; Jimmie Tucker, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Self + Tucker Architects; and Barbara Brown Wilson, University of Virginia


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President Dowdell elevating her long-time partner, the new president Jason Pugh

NOMA recognized outgoing President Dowdell for her accomplishments over the past two years, which includes doubling NOMA’s membership to more than 2,000 members; achieving corporate engagement through diversity, equity and inclusion program, President’s Circle; launching a new NOMA Foundation Fellowship; securing NOMA’s formalized position as a partner with peer organizations, AIA, AIAS, ACSA, NAAB, and NCARB; and leading through COVID-19, developing unifying messaging during the country’s social awakening. Dowdell’s administration also established a revamped mission statement and authored a 2021-2023 strategic plan for NOMA.

“I focused my presidency on openness through #ALLinforNOMA to gather a broader spectrum of members so that together we could talk about how to ensure that no group of people will ever feel left out again,” said Dowdell. “While there is a focus on the issues facing Black architects because that is where we still see the greatest disparities, our non-Black members will learn more about these issues and help us address them for all minority groups. We need the majority in the profession, our white colleagues, to not only understand what the challenges are, but to join in the movement to eradicate them for everyone in the field. I hope that those who have joined us feel more clarity around and commitment to the future of diversity, equity and inclusion in architecture. As much as the industry has stepped up to support us, we are here to support them in their journey, too. Our diversity in membership will only help us be more successful in the future.” 

Dowdell inducted Pugh as the 2021-2022 president by “passing the staff,” a tradition from NOMA’s founding in 1971. A licensed architect and certified planner, Pugh is an Associate Architect and Urban Designer at Gensler’s Chicago office. Pugh has a passion for helping develop underserved communities and the next generation of designers and architects. He previously served as the president of the Illinois NOMA chapter 2015-2016, and also served on Chicago’s Associate Board of the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program. Pugh has a B.A. from Howard University, one of seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities with an architecture accreditation, and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University.

“I’m honored to lead NOMA into our 50th year and start the next half-century of programming and progress,” said Pugh, NOMA incoming president. “One of the main goals for the next two years is to build upon the great work and progress President Dowdell and membership have accomplished during her tremendously impactful administration. We want to find ways to bolster the programs and initiatives launched by both the National Executive board and our local NOMA chapters to date, and ensure it dovetails with our expanded platform to Educate, Elevate, and Empower our membership base and chapters across the country.” Pugh addresses conference attendees; you can read his remarks on the President’s Desk.

NOMAS Student Awards

Every year, NOMA recognizes leadership excellence in their student chapters. Led by NOMA professionals across the country, the liaisons work with the NOMA Board to identify emerging talent in their student chapters. The 2020 National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) Student Member of the Year was Shaela Nelson, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The NOMAS Chapter of the Year winner was Syracuse University NOMAS; with an Honorable Mention going to Illinois Institute of Technology, NOMAS IIT. 

The 2020 NOMA Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition was focused on a project led by The Black Cultural Zone (BCZ) Community Development Corporation, in collaboration with seven environmental and housing justice organizations, to create a net positive mixed-use community-owned development in Deep East Oakland. First place went to California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Out of 29 schools who entered the competition, the winner was picked out of seven NOMAS chapter finalists, which included: California Baptist University; California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo; Iowa State University; Lawrence Tech University; Tuskegee University; University of British Columbia; and Woodbury University.

Jurors for the SOM-sponsored student competition included: Oswaldo Ortega, AIA, LEED AP BC+C, NOMA, NCARB, Gensler; Maurice Hamilton, Jr., AIA, NCARB, SOM; Javier Arizmendi, FAIA LEED, SOM; and Arturo Vasquez, AIA, Stantec.

The competition and jury was organized by NOMA’s Regional University Liaisons:

  • Northeast: Melanie Ray, NOMA, AIA, LEED Green Associate, NCARB, Hord Coplan Macht
  • Midwest: Andreea Vasile-Hoxa, Assoc. AIA, Assoc. ASLA, NOMA, Lawrence Tech University
  • South: Andrea Simpson, NOMA, AIA, OSCO Interiors
  • West: Gabrielle Riley, NOMA Associate AIA, ZGF

NOMA 50 – Detroit Homecoming in 2021

Next year, NOMA’s annual conference will be held in Detroit, celebrating 50 years since the organization’s founding, which stemmed from the AIA Convention in Detroit in 1971. NOMA executive Tiffany Brown, Assoc. AIA, MBA, unveiled the Detroit conference video, which welcomes NOMA members – past, present and future – to come home to Detroit to celebrate NOMA’s founding next October. The spoken-word performance was authored and created by Jessica Care Moore. The video was sponsored by Bedrock, a full-service commercial real estate firm based in downtown Detroit specializing in the strategic redevelopment of midwestern urban cores.