2019 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.

Balancing the extremely high demands from both the academic and professional worlds, Sarah Michele Young, Assoc. AIA, remains committed to a lifelong mission of learning. As the practice of architecture continues to evolve, Young offers a glimpse into a future where professional innovation and dedication to educating tomorrow’s architects lead the way.

Young spent her formative years in Southeast Asia, returning to the United States to reacquaint herself with her roots and attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After finishing her graduate work, she returned to her alma mater as tenure-track assistant professor while simultaneously working as a project designer at Lafayette’s emerymclure architecture.

As an educator, she has developed a pedagogy that emphasizes the design process and helps students create strong and moving architecture. To develop a more engaged and interdisciplinary studio culture for the UL Lafayette School of Architecture and Design, she began the Student  Seminar Series, which has evolved into regular meetings that offer students opportunities to learn from one another, share skills, and pursue design-related interests outside of their studio mandates.

“Young’s veracity and resolute dedication to foster trust have contributed to positive cultural transformations in our community and our academic department as she works in a milieu of eroded confidence between marginalized stakeholders and architectural professionals, and distrustful students and academics,” said Kari Smith, a professor of architecture at UL Lafayette. “Young’s character as a willful opponent to ostentation, erratic whim, and complacency challenges her students and colleagues to shape the development of our profession for the better.”

For the past four years, Young has been a member of emerymclure’s three-person staff. In the highly democratic office, she is often called upon to cast tiebreaking votes on all types of decisions, from how to resolve trim details to whether the firm should take on large-scale housing development projects. She is the primary contact for every project and handles everything from schematic design to construction administration.

She has worked on a number of projects that have received wide acclaim, including the BSL 2 House, which won a grand prize in the custom home category from the American Institute of Building Design; and the Baronne Renovation, which was featured on the cover of The Times- Picayune “InsideOut Home and Garden” section.

“Pursuing professional practice as a young educator may be the most difficult way to earn

tenure. But, in my mind, it is the most important,” emerymclure principal Michael A. McClure, AIA, said of Young. “The rewards for both the profession and the academy are multiplied when one is an active part of both. Sarah has chosen this path, and has done it brilliantly.”


Katie Wilson, AIA (Chair), Vera Iconica Architecture, Jackson, Wyoming

Mark Chambers, NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability , New York City

Curtis Fentress, FAIA, Fentress Architects, Denver

Stephanie Herring, Assoc. AIA, Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., Boston

Margaret Montgomery, FAIA, NBBJ, Seattle

Image credits

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Sarah Young