2017 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.

The passion for elevating the architect’s role in shaping community policy and elevating the human experience exhibited by Jonathan Opitz, AIA, has made him a key figure for the next generation of design professionals to emulate. Leading with both his words and his actions, Opitz has been a guiding voice in Little Rock while focusing on sustainability and regionally sensitive projects.

A principal and designer at AMR Architects, Inc., headquartered in Little Rock, Opitz strives to create meaningful connections between people, space, light, and materials. He was recently elevated to design principal because of the lasting relationships he establishes with clients, and his deep involvement in urban redevelopment projects and campus work at the Arkansas Tech University. A vocal leader in the firm, he coordinates many of its critiques and charrettes.

As a co-designer and project architect on projects such as Arkansas Tech’s Chambers Cafeteria Renovation and Addition, Opitz has harnessed design to create exciting dining experiences for more than three times the number of students previously accommodated by the school’s primary dining facility. Choosing to renovate rather than replace, the design solution allowed for one continuous open dining area with a new 2,400-square-foot glass addition that creates a warm naturally lit area. The project doubled seating capacity and was completed in five months and on budget.

Opitz’s involvement with the AIA began through the influence of Frank Barksdale, AIA, friend, mentor, and president of AMR Architects. Encouraged by Barksdale’s extensive participation with AIA Arkansas, Opitz has held multiple positions at the state and local levels and is currently AIA Arkansas’ Sustainability Committee chair. In this role Opitz reviews city, state, and national green building codes, and informs Chapter members about how changes may affect their practice. As the Chapter’s central selection chair, a position he held until his two-year term expired in 2015. Opitz established a new level of activity, which included 20 lunch-and-learn programs, the exhibition of design award boards at a local art gallery, and co-hosting an architecture book-release party.

Additionally Opitz is a founding member of studioMAIN, a nonprofit community outreach and design center. Comprising all manner of design professionals, studioMAIN strives to promote good design to the public. During its brief existence, it has made an impact on Little Rock. Recently the organization helped in the development of a downtown financial quarter, and it has helped guide, correct, and—sometimes—object to the expansion of Interstate 30 currently underway in the city.

Well-liked and respected by colleagues and clients, Opitz’s commitment to the profession is tangible. He is dedicated, committed, and an exemplary citizen architect.


John Sorrenti, FAIA, (Chair), JRS Architect, PC, Mineola, New York

Josh Flowers, AIA, Hnedak Bobo Group, Memphis, Tennessee

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

Lenore M. Lucey, FAIA, LML Consulting, Washington, DC

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

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

Image credits

Jonathan Opitz, AIA

Jonathan Opitz, AIA


Tim Sitler


AMR Architects