2018 Young Architects Award Recipient

Emerging talent deserves recognition. The AIA Young Architects Award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.

An advocate and educator, Kelly A. Haigh, AIA, is a champion of inspired design that ignites critical dialogue within the greater design community. Dedicated to projects that have a transformative effect on arts and educational institutions, her contributions and thought leadership at the local and national levels have made her an important voice in the profession.

A partner at Boston’s designLAB architects, she steers the firm’s mission to arrive at the absolute best design solutions through client-architect collaboration. This holistic approach has allowed her to work directly with institutions and embrace the public design process on projects such as the Claire T. Carney Library on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus. An addition to the 1972 cast-in-place concrete library on Paul Rudolph’s celebrated campus, the project transformed a shadowy pathway into a bright and welcoming living room that celebrates the student community. In her oversight of the interior, Haigh drew inspiration from the work of Josef Albers to develop a color theory that reintroduced the library’s original palette. As lead designer for the Emery Community Arts Center at the University of Maine Farmington, she created a stunning cultural hub for the school and surrounding town through an inclusive process driven by faculty, students, and community artists.

Haigh is deeply involved with the Boston Society of Architects and has held a number of leadership positions in the chapter. Currently leadership chair of its Women in Design committee, she relies on her sometimes competing roles as architect, mother, and firm partner to inform the committee’s work. She has helped launch a number of programs that support mid-career women, including a program that pairs participants with senior-level mentors for nine-month mentorships. The committee’s Emerging Leadership Program invites women at a critical point in their professional development to explore the issues and opportunities facing them through a series of lively and pointed conversations. The program has developed a network of trusted colleagues in whom participants can confide and grow alongside.

Following the success of the Claire T. Carney Library Project, Haigh was invited to join the AIA’s Interior Architecture Knowledge Committee, which she eventually co-chaired for three years. With a critical understanding and respect for the relationship between interior space and exterior expression, she helped reposition the committee to address a broader range of issues and develop a new mission statement that better supported the AIA’s strategy.

A multifaceted designer and leader, Haigh is an asset to her firm and professional community. Working tirelessly for a more inclusive vision of architecture, her unparalleled energy continues to positively shape the built environment.


Lenore M. Lucey, FAIA (Chair), LML Consulting, Washington, DC

Raymond "Skipper" Post, FAIA, Post Architects, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Edward Vance, FAIA, EV&A Architects, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada

Peter Kuttner, FAIA, Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts

John Castellana, FAIA, TMP Architecture, Inc., Bloomfield Hill, Michigan

Evelyn Lee, AIA, Savills Studley, Oakland, California

Image credits

Kelly Haigh - main image

Adam Glanzman

Kelly Haigh - showcase image 1

Jonathan Hillyer

Kelly Haigh - showcase image 2

Peter Vanderwarker