2019 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.

As an educator and architect, Michael Kothke, AIA, is a positive force shaping academic and professional communities. A leader in both realms, he has greatly contributed to the profession by enriching the lives of others through his practice and by mentoring the next generation of architects.

For the past decade, Kothke has taught every year level of the five-year B.Arch program at the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture. Through various roles at the school, he has provided innovation and leadership. Beginning with its freshmen, Kothke expanded the foundational curriculum to include a suite of skills while making advancement transparent and fair. For seniors, he overhauled the school’s comprehensive studio, transforming it into the most demanding and critical aspect of the degree program.

Over the course of several years, Kothke overhauled the school’s fifth-year capstone, offering students a greater choice of topic and approach, and revealing architecture of significance through rigorous research and design exploration. When the National Architectural Accrediting Board reviewed the schools two degrees, Kothke oversaw the exhibition for both. Largely through his efforts, the review resulted in rare near-perfect scores.

Kothke’s success in academia has been widely celebrated. He was named one of the nation’s most admired educators by DesignIntelligence and received the Educator of the Year award from AIA Arizona. The chapter also celebrated his contributions with two pedagogy awards, and last year the University of Arizona Foundation recognized his accomplishments with the Leicester and Kathryn Sherrill Creative Teaching Award.

His architectural practice, Tucson’s HK Associates Inc, is a collaboration with his business and life partner, Kathy Hancox, AIA. The duo constitutes the firm’s sole staff, and its work has grown in tandem with Kothke’s contributions to the University of Arizona.

For its renovation of a 1964 Edward Nelson, FAIA, modernist home in the Catalina Foothills north of Tucson, the architects stripped the house back to its bones of Douglas fir posts and beams that evoke California’s Case Study Houses. Its black concrete floors and brick perimeter walls reference the earthen constructions found throughout the Sonoran desert, while the pool and exterior terraces connect the home to panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. The project received the Interior Architecture Home of the Year award from AIA Southern Arizona in 2017, and the firm has received a number of significant local, regional, and national awards.

Beloved by his students and held in high regard by his fellow professionals, Kothke has influenced countless architectural careers. Through his dedication to the present and future of the profession, Kothke demonstrates that architecture itself can be a powerful teacher.


Raymond "Skipper" Post, FAIA (Chair), Post Architects, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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

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

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

Roger Schluntz, FAIA, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Lora Teagarden, AIA, RATIO Architects, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana

Image credits

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Bill Timmerman

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Logan Havens