2020 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.
Aaron Bowman, AIA, is a prolific craftsman who is dedicated to building physical buildings as well as community through the enterprises of volunteerism, service, and practice. As a student, he was inspired by his participation in a master plan project that altered the trajectory of his career, launching him into the realm of collaborative, community-driven practice.
While studying at the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston, Bowman’s studio engaged in a community service project funded through AIA150. He led his peers in drafting redevelopment strategies for Johnsonville, South Carolina, a small town left behind both economically and culturally. As he worked with Johnsonville’s leadership, he discovered the joy in combining community service and architecture. That experience led to his second, research-based master’s degree and his quest to integrate public service with design advocacy at all levels.
In 2013, Bowman’s son was born with a medical condition that required his family to move to Charleston’s Lowcountry to be near the Medical University of South Carolina. As Bowman and his family spent time in this geographically, economically, and culturally distinct region, he developed a fluency in Charleston’s architectural culture and the technical issues that come with coastal construction. Today, as a project architect at Charleston’s Liollio Architecture, Bowman is recognized as a prominent member of the city’s architectural community. Working primarily in the public sector, his focus on community-centric design addresses critical issues through creative and thoughtful work.
Bowman has long been engaged with AIA on the local, state, and national levels. While he was serving on AIA Greenville’s board of directors, he began a series of programs to support emerging professionals and encourage them to participate in AIA. He was instrumental in forging a partnership between the chapter, Women in Architecture SC Upstate, and Clemson’s AIAS chapter to create ARCHiLaMP, a mentoring program that creates cross-generational connections between young architects and established practitioners. Begun in 2008, the program continues to flourish under its new name, The Draughting Club.
When he joined AIA Charleston’s board in 2013, Bowman immediately advocated for a stronger collective community presence and organized multiple roundtable discussions with local practitioners and community leaders. As the chapter’s design director, he revived the community and service awards program, which recognizes organizations and individuals that promote good design and create a positive impact on the built environment.
After Hurricane Joaquin delivered record flooding across South Carolina in 2015, he connected with AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program for support in reorganizing AIA South Carolina’s dormant disaster assistance program. Recognizing the critical need for the chapter to formalize its efforts around resiliency and disaster preparedness, Bowman founded its biennial Resilience: By Design conference. His efforts led to his nomination to the national Disaster Assistance Committee, where he has peer-reviewed the third edition of AIA’s Disaster Assistance Handbook and contributes to its series of resilience and adaptation CEU courses.
Deftly juggling a number of critical roles, Bowman is a citizen, architect, and community educator. Through his selfless leadership, he embodies the spirit of the profession at its highest levels.