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Late last month, the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects, AIA|LA, rolled out the red carpet for its biggest fête of the year: the annual Design Awards.

Held at the Los Angeles Theatre, a historic movie palace in downtown’s Broadway Theater District, the program celebrated 20 exceptional built and 19 unbuilt “NEXT LA” projects across a range of typologies. The theme of this year’s event was “RE,” which, per AIA|LA, “provided a unique opportunity for attendees to Reflect, Rewind, Reconsider, and Rejoice in the transformative power of architecture.”

historic theater marquee.

The annual awards ceremony was held at the historic Los Angeles Theatere in Downtown L.A. Photo courtesy AIA|LA

Along with the 39 project-based awards, AIA|LA paid tribute to the life and resounding impact of its 2023 Gold Medal Winner, the late Earl Gales Jr. As founder and chairman of Jenkins/Gales & Martinez, Inc., one of the nation’s largest minority-owned architecture, engineering, and construction management firms, Gales was a crucial player in the creation of the L.A. Metro Line and other transformative large-scale projects in the city, region, and beyond. Gales, who died in November 2022, was also a noted role model for BIPOC members of the AEC community and tireless mentor to students of color. At the ceremony, AIA|LA president Leslie Sydnor recognized his “outstanding legacy in advancing architecture and positively impacting the lives of thousands of Angelenos.” Ryan Gales, Earl’s son, accepted the posthumous honor.

ryan gales accepts award.

AIA|LA president Leslie Sydnor presents the 2023 Gold Medal to Ryan Gales, son of the late Earl Gales Jr. Photo courtesy AIA|LA

In addition to Gales as the Gold Medal awardee, the chapter’s board of directors celebrated a range of “projects, architects, educators, builders, developers, and community leaders who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation in their respective fields.” Recipients of the previously announced 2023 Board of Directors Awards (formerly the Presidential Honor Awards) include the Sixth Street Viaduct team, including the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, HNTB, and Michael Maltzan Architecture (Building Team Award); Good Project Company (Emerging Firm Award); Bergamot Station by Frederick Fisher and Partners and Pugh + Scarpa (the 25-Year Award); and Sarah Lorenzen of TOLO Architecture and Professor of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Environmental Design (Citizen Architect Award). A full list of Board of Directors Awards honorees can be viewed here.

Loyola Marymount University Drollinger Family Stage.

The Honor Award-winning Loyola Marymount University Drollinger Family Stage by SOM. Photo © Dave Burk/SOM

As for the core Design Awards, they were bestowed to built projects (completed after January 1, 2020) across three achievement levels—honor, citation, and merit—in more than 10 categories. The year’s highest honors went to the Victory Wellness Center by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S (Adaptive Reuse/Renovation/Historical Preservation); Main Studio by BA Collective (Commercial/Mixed-Use); Plant Research 1 by Perkins & Will (Educational); and Screen House by BA Collective (Single-Family Residential). Winning projects featured in RECORD include Loyola Marymount University Drollinger Family Stage by SOM (Honor Award, Architectural Installations) and Houston Endowment Headquarters by Kevin Daly Architects (Merit Award, Healthcare/Institutional/Civic).

Houston Endowment Headquarters.

Houston Endowment Headquarters by Kevin Daly Architects and Productora, winner of a Merit Award. Photo © Iwan Baan

The NEXT LA awardees were presented to unbuilt projects in the same categories and across the same achievement levels with top honors going to the California Endowment ‘Hope Village’ Restorative Health Campus by GGA+ (Affordable Housing), Cadigan Building by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S (Educational), and Sunset Steps by West of West (Multi-Unit Residential).

Per the awards program’s criteria, winning projects, both built and unbuilt, must either be located in L.A. and/or designed by an AIA|LA member architect/firm for consideration by the jury.