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.
An archetypical citizen architect, Benjamin M. Ward, AIA, delivers a consistent message that good design matters and architects are community leaders in every project in which they are involved. His blend of talent and leadership has made him much sought-after, and his influence has shaped innovative programs and initiatives at every level, from local to national.
Ward is an associate at Curtis Group Architects on Pawleys Island, S.C., which focuses exclusively on the healthcare sector. CGA recruited him because of his hospitality-industry background and the new perspective he brought to its work. Since then he has developed a strong relationship with the firm’s largest client, Tidelands Health, and has helped secure more than $200 million in new construction and renovation projects. Ward has led multiple projects from conception to completion with a design/build approach that adheres to cost and timeline requirements while ensuring the best possible spaces for patients.
As a member of the CGA’s associates committee, Ward has urged the firm to engage in mentoring and advocacy projects, and has helped usher in such programs as scholarships for employees to attend conferences, shadowing days with middle school students, and informal lunch chats that eschew the prescribed annual review structure. He was selected to participate in the firm’s strategic and transitioning planning retreat, and to promote continued education and licensure for young professionals he set up the CGA Knowledge Academy.
Since his days as a member of Clemson University’s AIAS chapter, Ward has been active in the AIA. Prior to returning to the Myrtle Beach area, he served on AIA Charlotte’s Emerging Professionals and AIA North Carolina’s Membership Committee. After joining AIA Grand Strand as its Young Architects Forum/Emerging Professionals director, he soon became its vice president and, later, president, a position he has held continually since 2012.
As design professionals left the area after the 2008 recession, Ward accepted the challenge of rebuilding his chapter. He reorganized the board’s structure to better fulfill a mission of advocacy, community, and knowledge. Traditional monthly lunch-and-learn events became all-day credit events, freeing up the chapter’s calendar for social and community events such as LEGO build days, Kids in Architecture events at the Children’s Museum of South Carolina, and legislative breakfasts with elected officials. From 2016 to 2017 Ward served as Young Architects regional director for the South Atlantic Region, which gave him a national platform to advocate for young professionals. In this role he worked with colleagues to host workshops at the 2016 AIA South Atlantic Region Conference and helped secure a grant for the first-ever AIA South Carolina Leadership Development Academy.
The AIA and the profession continue to benefit from Ward’s vision and commitment to improving the lives of young professionals and members of the communities he serves. His service has already had a profound effect on the awareness of architecture and those who seek to practice it.