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Kevin deFreitas, AIA

The Young Architects Award is given to individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession in an early stage of their architectural career.

Architect members of the AIA who have been licensed to practice architecture fewer than 10 years by the submission deadline are eligible to be nominated; the term young architect has no reference to the age of nominees. Any component, member of the national AIA Board of Directors, knowledge community, or College of Fellows may nominate one or more individuals.

Kevin deFreitas, a native of San Diego, began his collegiate studies at the University of San Diego, ultimately graduating cum laude with a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Arizona. A growing interest in urban architecture and planning led to a year of study at UC Berkeley and Syracuse University’s study abroad program in Florence, Italy.

Inspired to implement smart growth principles, sustainable design practices and emerging building technologies, Kevin deFreitas Architects was formed. The freedom to design as well as self-develop several urban in-fill projects has resulted in a much deeper understanding of the entire development process and has profoundly influenced the way projects are conceived and executed. Sustainable projects like “Rowhomes on F,” for example, are 42% more efficient than State-mandated energy standards and virtually zero maintenance, as well as impervious to termite, mold and water damage.

Kevin has a deep sense of civic commitment and responsibility and believes architecture and design to be more than a career, but in fact, his vocation. He regularly provides pro bono services to church and youth-related organizations in addition to being an active Board member of several non-profit and community planning groups; he is especially proud of this work.

Notably, he is well-regarded for his contribution to revitalizing a downtown area of San Diego that had previously been regarded as a bit of a “No Man’s Land” and “blighted.” Leslie Wade, one of Kevin’s references, praises, “Kevin didn’t just talk about urban renewal. Long before PETCO Park was planned, he bought a warehouse, based his architectural practice there, and renovated it for his young family. At that time, there were no schools in East Village, no parks, no grocery stores and few families to speak of. Thanks to Kevin’s efforts, today, much of that has changed.” For Sunset View Elementary, the local public school, Kevin aided the fitness-inspired “Run Club”—a program that encourages children to run for fifteen minutes every day before class—by helping design and provide a brand new track and field course, replacing the decomposed granite that had caused poor air quality for the students. All of this commitment to redevelopment and revitalization illustrates how he characteristically uses his profession not just for building beautiful structures, but also for service to his community through strides in urban and social planning.

Ultimately, Kevin hopes that people using the places his firm has designed will appreciate the optimism, strong connection to place, straightforward materiality, curiosity, and a hint of wit the firm strives to imbue into all of the work.

Kevin’s design and development work has been recognized on a local, state, and national level, resulting in numerous awards and publications for its thoughtfulness, sustainability, and innovation.

Kevin deFreitas, AIA


Donald J. Hackl, FAIA (Chair)
Loebl, Schlossman & Hackl

Edward J. Kodet Jr., FAIA
Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd.

Norman L. Koonce, FAIA
McLean, Virginia

Ronald Skaggs, FAIA
HKS, Inc.

Chester A. Widom, FAIA
WWCOT Architecture & Interiors
Santa Monica, California


“Kevin actually embodies
and lives his commitment to
revitalizing urban areas,
moving his life and practice
to a neighborhood he has
helped to reinvigorate.”


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