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.

Having experienced firsthand the senseless deaths of 32 fellow students at Virginia Tech in 2007, Jenine Kotob, Assoc. AIA, has harnessed that pain and become a champion for creating learning environments that carefully balance safety concerns and nurturing settings. A dedicated volunteer, she is an emerging leader for AIA|DC and one of the few Palestinian-Americans engaged in the profession.

Kotob is a designer for Hord Coplan Macht in Alexandria, Virginia, and held a similar role previously at Quinn Evans Architects in Washington, DC. As a designer, she pushes the profession to deliver more empathetic and mission-driven work to the communities it serves. She has worked with a number of school districts and higher education institutions, where she brings a participatory design process to engage students directly, allowing them to make their voices heard. Additionally, Kotob has become one of the country’s leading advocates of education safety design and is the AIA’s inaugural Citizen Architect for her work with civic leaders on new federal legislation. Most importantly, with every project she touches, from Marie Reed Elementary School in Washington, DC, to Stone Ridge Student Life Center in Bethesda, MD, she strives to understand the hopes and concerns of the students, teachers, and families - prioritizing wellbeing and resiliency through design.

“There are few architects, rising or established, who accomplish more than Jenine both in their day jobs and through volunteering,” wrote Carl Elefante, FAIA, 2018 AIA president and principal emeritus at Quinn Evans Architects, in a letter supporting Kotob’s nomination for the Associates Award. “Jenine has a capacity for compassion backed up with tenacity that is extremely rare.”

As a student at Virginia Tech, she focused her thesis on developing an interfaith center for Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—which garnered a student design award from AIA Blue Ridge. Kotob’s master’s thesis at MIT explored schools in conflict zones, and she spent months abroad to understand how facilities in refugee camps and war zones were designed to educate. The resulting 200-page thesis has been referenced by a number of international studies centered on relief aid, refugee camp design, and school safety.

Since 2017, Kotob has been a member of AIA|DC’s Committee on Architecture for Education, where she helps organize a number of its events. Every year, the committee’s Back to School fall social highlights the work of the chapter’s architects as they present their on-the-boards projects to the greater DC area. Kotob has also been active with the AIA National Committee on Architecture for Education and received an emerging professional scholarship in 2016. The following year, she served as a juror for its Education Facilities Design Awards.

“It would be difficult to find a more passionate and dedicated architect,” wrote Brian G. Minnich, AIA, the 2020 Committee on Architecture for Education chair, in a letter supporting Kotob’s nomination. “Jenine’s work is already having an impact on her community, and I look forward to seeing the impact that her career has on the lives of the people she meets for years to come.”

Jury

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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Kaveh Sardari

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Jenine Kotob

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Joseph Romeo Photography

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Hord Coplan Macht