2010 AIA ASSOCIATES AWARD
The AIA Associates Award is the highest award given to individual associate AIA members who best exemplify the highest qualities of leadership and have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to their component or region's membership, in the community, in professional organizations, and/or in the design and construction industries.
Associate members of the AIA who are not licensed to practice architecture are eligible for the award.
Darris W. James, Assoc. AIA, graduated with distinction in 1999 from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree. After graduation, Darris joined the New York office of Gensler, where he is now a senior associate, and first worked in corporate interiors, quickly becoming a specialist in programming and planning large complex projects.
After working in the firm’s Amsterdam and London offices, he returned to New York where he entered Gensler’s aviation practice area, focusing on the programming and planning of airport terminals. Darris quickly became an expert in the field with work across the globe, including India, Morocco, and Portugal. He is currently focused on research-based design in the aviation industry developing tools to advance his firm’s position in the ever-changing global marketplace.
In addition to his demanding work schedule, Darris is equally passionate about mentoring the professional development of the next generation of architects and designers. Establishing himself as an expert in pre-college architecture curricula in the New York secondary education system, he works directly with schools and organizations such as the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program and PENCIL, an organization that supports relationships between business leaders and principals to inspire public school students.
John H. Pierce, a board member for the ACE Mentor Program of Greater New York, describes Darris as a model altruist. “He exemplifies the spirit of the AIA’s Associates Award through his continued commitment to education awareness, outreach, and mentoring of tomorrow’s industry professionals.” As further testament to this commitment, in 2008 Darris received the Illinois Institute of Technology Outstanding Educator Award for inspiring high school educators to integrate design practices into their programs.
Leading by example, Darris was one of the chief organizers of the 2006 AIA New York Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) international design ideas competition, “Southpoint: From Ruin to Rejuvenation,” which won the 2006 AIA National Program of the Year award.
He has shared his expertise with the profession and his community by lecturing on developing and implementing competitions at several design firms and at the 2006 AIA New York State convention, advised subsequent ENYA competition organizers, and most recently acted as an advisor to the Bronx Museum of the Arts as it was developing its Grand Concourse competition, “Intersections: Grand Concourse Beyond 100,” a competition for emerging architects to envision the future of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
In her sponsor letter, Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, noted that “whether promoting competitions which inspire emerging talent, mentoring high school students to engage in architecture, or encouraging peers to get involved with design, Darris paves the way for young designers.”
Venesa Alicea, Assoc. AIA
Stacey M. Bayles
Carole J. Olshavsky, FAIA
Sean Stadler, AIA
His passion for teaching architecture students and emerging professionals