2020 Edward C. Kemper Award Recipient

From 1914 to 1948, Edward C. Kemper led the AIA as executive director. Since 1950, this award has honored members who carry on his legacy of continued and significant service to the AIA.  

Eager to challenge conventions and encourage diversity and transparency, Carole Wedge, FAIA, has dedicated her career to inspiring the profession to transform for the better. Boston’s architectural community has long benefitted from her influence and energy, and the national leadership roles she has assumed have allowed her to flatten the barriers inhibiting positive transformation.

“She exudes passion for the idea that our profession can only be enhanced when opportunities are available to cultivate and include the creative talent currently untapped for reasons long ignored. Carole continues to speak and engage many AIA members in this dialogue,” wrote Robert L. Easter, AIA, in a letter supporting Wedge’s nomination for the Edward C. Kemper Award. “Carole is helping our profession to see the connections that must be made now and into the future so that we may have a measurable impact and achieve a profession that has the demographic of the communities that we serve.”

Wedge is the president and CEO of Shepley Bulfinch, the nation’s oldest continuously operating firm, where her career began in the mailroom more than 30 years ago. In the 15 years since she assumed the firm’s presidency, she has infused its vision and culture with innovation, diversity, and sustainability. She has empowered the firm’s staff and dismantled a permission-driven environment, replacing it instead with a culture of inquiry and opportunity. Currently, Wedge is leading the firm through the development of a strategic plan to carry it through 2030 while supporting the opening of its fourth office in Hartford.

Since 2007, Wedge has been a significant contributor to AIA National Conventions. As the chair of the 2008 convention in Boston, she led the effort to raise nearly $1 million to create scholarships for emerging professionals to attend. The following year, Wedge was selected as one of seven women from the Boston Women Principals Group to pilot the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, now in its 10th year. Through her participation at all of the summits, Wedge has emerged as an influential mentor and advocate for women design professionals across the country. Wedge was elevated to the College of Fellows in 2008 and was celebrated with the Boston Society of Architects’ Women in Design Award in 2012.

“Carole is such a positive and powerful role model, so steadfastly committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, in her service and in her firm leadership,” Kate Schwennsen, FAIA, 2006 AIA president, wrote in a letter supporting Wedge’s nomination. “To take Shepley Bulfinch, a leading, 150-year-old firm, to national certification as a woman-owned business, with majority female leadership, is a hugely important example in and for the profession. She has shown us all what is possible, and that diversity and inclusion are good for business.”

Wedge has served as the chair of AIA’s Large Firm Round Table, a committee of the 60 largest firms in the country, since 2017. Through her leadership, the committee has forged strong partnerships with the National Organization of Minority Architects, the seven accredited historically black college and university architecture programs, and the Young Architects Forum (YAF). With her guidance, the committee and the YAF developed a day-long workshop called Mini MBA: Mastering the Business of Architecture, which has been presented at the last 10 AIA Conventions.

As demonstrated in her professional practice as well as her volunteer efforts, Wedge leads with clarity as she works to affect real change. Recognizing that the profession can only benefit when all parties have a seat at the table, she works tirelessly to advance the greater good.

“For me, Carole embodies the right kind of spirit, intellect, passion, and commitment to AIA that the Kemper Award was created to recognize,” wrote Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA. “The Institute is better because she is a part of it—that is a legacy we should all hope to work towards.”

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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David Salafia

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Robert Benson

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Anton Grassl/Esto

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Shepley Bulfinch

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Anton Grassl/Esto