2020 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.

Drawing on her experience as a design professional and artist with global experience, Kritika Dhanda, Assoc. AIA, is able to empathize with diverse cultures and communities while working across a number of mediums. Eager to infuse the built environment with creativity, Dhanda treats architecture as a form of social communication and lets her designs reflect the ethos of the communities she serves.

Now in New York, where she works as an intern architect and project manager for Abby Suckle Architect, Dhanda has previously levied her skills in New Delhi, Bombay, and the Indian villages of Azamgarh and Ranikhet. Architecture’s social responsibility has long been the focus of her work, beginning with her undergraduate thesis project that explored prison reform and formed the foundation of her design philosophy. In India, she was part of a team that designed and constructed the Chacha Nehru Primary School that preserves the musical traditions of Azamgarh. The project relied on community input through a number of workshops with teachers and students as well as the work of local craftsmen, who helped build the school from adobe brick, thatch, and bamboo.

“Kritika is among the best young architects I have ever collaborated with,” wrote Abby Suckle, FAIA, in a letter supporting Dhanda’s nomination for the Associates Award. “Over the past four years I’ve had the opportunity to watch her develop from a student intern into a young professional. What she’s accomplished is outstanding. It’s been an extraordinary journey for both of us.”

Dhanda is an active member of AIANY and has greatly informed a number of the chapter’s programs. She served as the designer of its book Cocktails & Conversations: Dialogues on Architectural Design, published in 2018. To produce the book, which captures architects’ thoughts on their work and process, she coordinated with more than 80 architects, journalists, illustrators, and photographers. Last spring, she also helped coordinate Coast to Coast: The Gender of Preservation, a program that highlighted women who have launched solo careers focused on interiors and preservation, with a number of chapter committees.

As part of an internship program with the Harvard Graduate School of Design and cultureNOW, a nonprofit mapping organization dedicated to building a “museum without walls,” Dhanda and four other interns developed an extensive database of the history, art, and architecture of lower Manhattan. The resulting work was reproduced as a digital and printed map, and Dhanda overlaid nine historical maps and the NOAA 2050 projections to demonstrate how New York has been shaped by the dynamic forces of aesthetics, politics, economics. The map was a highlight of the city’s first Shared Street Festival, during which more than 10,000 copies were printed and distributed.

“Kritika Dhanda has shown a sustained commitment to promoting an understanding of the importance of architecture in diverse communities and the exchange of architectural ideas within the profession,” Jane Weinzapfel, FAIA, wrote in support of Dhanda’s nomination. “This has been a gift to many, both in Boston and New York.”


Timothy C. Hawk, FAIA (Chair), WSA Studio, Columbus, Ohio

Lawrence Scarpa, FAIA, Brooks Scarpa, Hawthorne, California

Peter MacKeith, Assoc. AIA, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Oswaldo Ortega, AIA, Gensler, Chicago, Illinois

Julia Laue, AIA, Bureau of Architecture, San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco, California

Image credits

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Ankit Bhardwaj

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