12.04.2023

AIA Chicago Announces the 2023 Distinguished Service Award Honorees

2023 Distinguished Service Award Honorees

2023 Distinguished Service Award Honorees

These three individuals have exemplified the mission of AIA Chicago and provided outstanding service to the membership of the chapter and the residents of Chicago.

December 4, 2023, CHICAGO – AIA Chicago, the second largest local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the collective voice of over 4,000 licensed architects, emerging professionals, architecture students, and allied professionals, today announced Susan Benjamin; Maya Bird-Murphy of  Mobile Makers; and Abraham Lacy of the Far South Community Development Corporation; as recipients of the 2023 Distinguished Service Awards. The recipients will be celebrated at the upcoming Building Together: Awards Program and Holiday Open House on Thursday, December 7, 2023, at the Chicago Architecture Center.
 
“These individuals are incredible advocates, educators and community builders” said Peter Wojtowicz, AIA, vice president of honors and awards at AIA Chicago, “and their dedication to a more sustainable, more equitable, and more inclusive future is laudable.”

This year, the AIA Chicago Board of Directors has elected to bestow this honor upon three individuals and their organizations:
 

Susan Benjamin

For outstanding service to the Chicago architectural community as a passionate advocate of historic places.


Susan Benjamin has spent the past 40 years as a passionate advocate of Chicago’s historic spaces and places. As a consultant to architects and homeowners, her firm prepares landmark designations for Chicago and North Shore properties designed by the likes of Howard van Doren Shaw, David Adler and Bertrand Goldberg to leverage tax incentives for restoration, remodeling, and adaptive reuse.
 
Susan contributes to the understanding of Chicago’s rich architectural history as a frequent lecturer for The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). She is the co-author of three seminal books on the history of Chicago’s residential architecture: Great Chicago Houses, 1871-1921; North Shore Chicago: Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs, 1890-1940; and most recently Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses, 1929-1975, which documents Chicago’s mid-century modern houses.In addition to AIA Chicago’s Distinguished Service Award, Susan was an honoree at this year’s SAH Celebrates for her dedication to preservation of historic spaces.

Maya Bird-Murphy
and Mobile Makers


For outstanding service in empowering Chicago’s youth and fostering the next generation of diverse, creative designers.


Using design-focused, place-based workshops, Maya has worked to empower Chicago’s youth and foster the next generation of diverse, creative designers. In 2017, she founded the non-profit organization Mobile Makers and has since retrofitted a mail truck for pop-up workshops, opened a classroom at the Kimball Arts Center in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, and expanded the organization to Boston, Massachusetts. Mobile Makers leverages design and empowers youth at summer camp programs, bi-weekly pop-ups at the Chicago Cultural Center, and open-house workshop sessions.
 
Mobile Makers was selected as the Educational Partner for the 2023 Chicago Architecture Biennial, working with local youth to create a flexible and responsive installation which is on exhibition alongside international artist and designers.  Recently Maya organized and hosted the Design Summit for Friends of Friends, an interdisciplinary and intergenerational event featuring artists Theaster Gates and Amanda Williams. In 2023, Maya was a Finalist for the Wheelwright Prize

Abraham Lacy
and Far South Community Development Corporation


For outstanding service through new policies, resources, partnerships, and opportunities to alleviate and eliminate inequities in Chicago’s built environment.


Abraham Lacy is a powerful voice for economic and community development on Chicago’s far south side. As president of the nonprofit organization Far South Community Development Corporation (CDC), Abraham’s work strengthens the neighborhood’s existing assets to sustain the community’s  dynamic culture and they continue to invest in people and develop through equitable growth.
 
Abraham was instrumental in bringing Pop! Heights Park to the South Halsted community, the first new park in the area in over fifty years. Current notable development projects include Morgan Park Commons, a twelve-acre mixed-use project with affordable housing, transit connections, and outdoor recreation; and the Roseland Medical District Master Plan which seeks to create an economic development plan to attract academic institutions, and high-tech and medical facilities.
 
Since 1955, the AIA Chicago Board of Directors has recognized individuals and organizations who have provided outstanding service to the Chicago architectural community, including but not limited to, advancement or development of laws, regulations, policies, or initiatives that promote excellence in architecture; the commissioning of notable projects to the built environment; or activities that raise the public’s consciousness of the importance of excellent design in the shaping of our world and culture.
 
Any member of AIA Chicago may nominate themselves or an individual that meets these requirements. Upon receipt of nominations, the AIA Chicago Board of Directors selects the recipients at their discretion.
 
About AIA Chicago
The American Institute of Architects Chicago (AIA Chicago) serves nearly 4,000 architect members in Chicago and is the second largest AIA local chapter in the country. AIA Chicago’s mission builds on the city’s architectural legacy by advocating for the profession, sharing knowledge among members, and partnering with communities. It fosters a culture of design excellence for equitable, sustainable places and spaces.
 
AIA Chicago offers lectures and continuing education courses; specialized, issue-specific Knowledge Communities; advocacy for architects; and help for consumers looking for an architect.

AIA Chicago is the local Chicago chapter of The American Institute of Architects. Based in Washington, D.C., the AIA has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857. Learn more by visiting www.aiachicago.org.

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