2019 Young Architect Award Reciepent

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.

Frank Mahan, AIA, is a talented designer, dedicated mentor, and a community role model. Because of his ability to draw out the best work from his team and colleagues while bolstering their growth as designers, Mahan has been entrusted with some of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s most complex and significant projects, including its work at the World Trade Center site.

Mahan joined SOM, where he is now an associate director, in 2008 and quickly distinguished himself with his work on the firm’s design for the United States Air Force Academy Center for Character & Leadership Development in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On a site designated a National Historic Landmark District, Mahan led all aspects of the design for the new cadet training facility. By synthesizing the project’s myriad challenges, he delivered a historically sensitive and iconic building that embodies the Air Force Academy’s mission.

Since then Mahan has emerged as an expert in adaptive reuse, particularly with projects that require design interventions on historic sites. He developed a studio devoted to SOM’s adaptive reuse projects, and his expertise has placed him at the forefront of reshaping New York’s urban fabric. He has led projects at some of the city’s most important pre-war and midcentury icons, including the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, One Chase Manhattan Plaza, and the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Building. At this early stage of his career, Mahan has built a portfolio that includes more than $6 billion of work covering 5 million square feet.

The value of mentorship was instilled in Mahan at an early age by his father, a high school architecture teacher. During his school years, he emerged as a mentor and leader, traits he has continued to develop throughout his tenure at SOM. He has been fully engaged in the SOM Women’s Initiative and has dedicated himself to the professional development of women architects. Many of the colleagues he has mentored have moved into leadership roles and are overseeing critical cultural initiatives in his firm, including recruitment, licensing study sessions, and its professional development lecture series.

Outside the office, Mahan is involved in academia at his alma maters California Polytechnic State University and Princeton University, but he has also formed new relationships with schools in and around New York. He mentors first-year and graduate students in their thesis work and actively recruits graduates to join him at SOM. His commitment to education also skews younger, and he has inspired countless young minds by revealing the possibilities of design.

As a volunteer with PENCIL, a nonprofit initiative that exposes low-income students to career possibilities, Mahan has raised awareness of architecture, engineering, and construction in classrooms throughout New York City’s public school system. Through his work with the nonprofit Culture of One, he has also engaged with children in the foster care system, igniting their imaginations and offering encouragement and support.

A paragon of professionalism and dedication, Mahan has had a significant impact on the built environment and one of the country’s most cherished skylines. His commitment to his colleagues and the next generation of architects is integral to the future of the profession.


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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Magda Biernat

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James Ewing

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Eduard Hueber

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