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.
A selfless leader, Abigail R. Brown, AIA, has equipped her peers with the tools needed for personal and collective success. Guided by her deep belief in the power that young architects possess, Brown has emerged as a force in her firm and local AIA chapter and devotes her time and energy to elevating the experience of young professionals.
The granddaughter of a city councilwoman and the daughter of an electrician, Brown inherited a penchant for advocacy and hard work that guides her architectural practice. Her professional career began in Chicago, where she obtained licensure, but she is currently a project architect for Hickok Cole in Washington, DC. Brown is a member of the firm’s residential studio where, since 2014, she has led its exploration of modular construction techniques for multifamily housing projects throughout the city. Her work, including the research and knowledge-sharing initiatives she developed, has positioned the firm as an expert in the field.
Informed by her time as a member of 4-H and the Girl Scouts, Brown has long been an active member of her community. That continues today with her activity on Hicock Cole’s philanthropic committee, Full Circle. Over the course of eight years, the committee has organized more than 70 charitable events and donated countless volunteer hours to a number of causes. Brown has led the firm’s PARKing Day design team and volunteered for community improvement days. In 2016, she helped realize the committee’s leadership structure and implement a transition plan to stave off volunteer burnout.
Since attaining licensure in 2012, Brown has sought to improve the profession. She has been active with AIA|DC’s Emerging Architects Committee, joining it in 2013 when the committee was shifting from a small group of self-starters to a robust collective of volunteers with little direction. As a co-chair of the committee’s Architecture Uncensored series, Brown shook up the traditional lecture format and replaced it with a debate. She applied for and was awarded a $3,000 grant from the AIA College of Fellows for the 2015 iteration of the series, and she used the funds to create a series of short documentaries that are available on YouTube. In 2021, Brown’s support of emerging professionals will continue to grow when she becomes the chair of the AIA Young Architects Forum.
Brown’s desire to improve the profession extends beyond her leadership in AIA and into practice. She was one of 60 participants in the 2017 AIA Practice Innovation Lab, where her team pitched the idea of the JAMB Collective. Envisioned as a membership-based network that helps small and medium firms compete like larger firms, it received the People’s Choice Award and became a reality. Formally founded in 2017, the collective is currently participating in a start-up accelerator.
A champion for innovation and a passionate supporter of her community, Brown has demonstrated that one of her strongest characteristics is a willingness to give back. Through all of her work, she empowers her peers and continually sets up others for success.