2017 Associates Award Recipient
The AIA Associates Award is given to individual Associate AIA members to recognize outstanding leaders and creative thinkers for significant contributions to their communities and the architecture profession.
Deeply committed to championing the importance of design in our complex and ever-changing world, Mona Zellers, Assoc. AIA, is a unique blend of designer, artist, and activist whose work inspires her colleagues in Seattle and well beyond.
Zellers’ design success began early when, before she had completed her masters in architecture at the University of Washington College of Built Environments, she received a design award from AIA Seattle for a thesis that reimagined the city’s Battery Street Tunnel.
Now an associate architect at LMN Architects who focuses on education projects, she and her colleagues formed Frankenstein Inc., a small company that experiments with digital fabrication techniques and nontraditional materials that often inform the firm’s large-scale projects. At the second annual Seattle Design Festival, Frankenstein Inc. won first prize for a 700-pound chaise lounge constructed out of radiator parts; at the following year’s festival the company’s Octahedron became a signature installation. It later received a 2013 Honor Award from AIA Seattle.
As an advocate for the design professional’s responsibility to engage in dialogue regarding the future of our cities, Zellers serves on the board of both AIA Seattle and Design in Public, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit initiative of the chapter that actively promotes design in the community. Design in Public hosts the annual Seattle Design Festival, which gathers designers and the public for a two-week celebration. As chair of the organization’s development committee, Zellers works to keep it financially sound and thriving.
In 2013 and 2014, Zellers chaired the Seattle chapter’s Honor Awards Committee—the youngest person ever to do so—and oversaw a significant overhaul of the program. Through her guidance—which included rewriting the awards criteria—the program became more equitable and diverse, honoring projects smaller in scope and budget, and higher in social and civic significance. The event also featured the first all-woman jury in its history.
With a practice that intertwines professional and community involvement, Zellers’ holistic approach to design is helping to propel the profession into the future.