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.

Balancing a passion for design with a drive for advocacy, Matthew DeBoer, AIA, is a model of the multifaceted modern architect. Creative and more than willing to work collaboratively, DeBoer emerged as a leader very early in his career. His trajectory has propelled him to the position of managing principal in less than a decade.

Informed by the belief that great architecture builds vibrant communities, DeBoer is vice president and managing principal of Omaha’s HDR, Inc., and his work has had an impact at home and as far away as the Middle East. As client principal for the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Hubbard Center for Children in Omaha, DeBoer is steering a $450 million, 500,000-square-foot expansion for one of the Midwest’s leading children’s hospitals. Earlier, as an architect in the office of Leo A Daly, DeBoer was lead designer for SAC Federal Credit Union’s new headquarters in Papillion, Nebraska. His bold design for the 94,000-square-foot building garnered a number of design awards from AIA Nebraska and AIA Central States Region. At HDR, DeBoer has improved profitability by 10 percent and reorganized studios into multidisciplinary teams. He broke down the real and perceived silos many of his colleagues were working in so that junior staff are now introduced to disciplines beyond their own, and the office has gained collaboration space that is regularly used for impromptu meetings.

Despite the challenges of simultaneously managing a blossoming career and a growing family, DeBoer has been active in the AIA since he completed graduate school in 2009. Immediately following graduation, DeBoer took a seat on AIA Omaha’s board of directors. This year he is chapter president and concurrently serves as a director on AIA Nebraska’s board. He has helped the chapter—one the nation’s largest all-volunteer chapters —launch a number of vital programs, including a lecture series that has brought world-renowned architects and design journalists to Omaha. Last year DeBoer led a chapter-sponsored architecture camp where 12- to 14-year-olds were tasked with envisioning the future of the Omaha’s 10th Street Corridor.

Community engagement has been a hallmark of DeBoer’s professional growth, and he regularly seeks opportunities to introduce stakeholders throughout Nebraska to the value of design. To that end, he has held a number of leadership positions in community organizations such as the Papillion Arts Council. Appointed by the mayor, he oversaw the design and construction of the City Hall Art Gallery and identified new sites for additional public art.

Having already left an indelible mark on his firm and chapter, DeBoer’s commitment to the profession is palpable. Embodying the best attributes of the profession, he has worked diligently to enhance the lives of others.


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

Matthew DeBoer, AIA - main image

Matthew DeBoer

Matthew DeBoer - SAC FCU Headquarters

Matthew DeBoer, courtesy of Leo A Daly

Matthew DeBoer - Do Space

Photo courtesy of HDR; © 2016 Dan Schwalm/HDR