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.
Guided by intelligence, empathy, and generosity, Catherine Callaway embodies the service mentality her parents encouraged and modeled. Her career path was forged during her time as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and today she levies her strengths as an architect and a leader to benefit her community and shape a resilient future for the Houston region.
While pursuing her master’s of architecture at the University of Houston, Callaway was named the student representative to the Rice Design Alliance’s board of directors. After connecting monthly with leaders seeking to enhance her native Houston, she committed to joining their efforts. Throughout her young career, her community service has enriched her daily work and connected her with the public as she strives to enhance the quality of life for everyone in the region.
In 2007, Callaway joined BNIM’s Houston office but quickly found herself alone when the recession laid the office low. As a newly licensed architect, she was tasked with managing projects left in process by former colleagues while ferreting out new business in a very slow economy. Despite the adversity, Callaway carried a number of projects to completion, including the Michael J. Cemo Hall at the University of Houston and renovations of the Rice Architecture building. She collaborated with Lake | Flato on the Sunset Coffee Building for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, which included bold sustainability goals on a tight budget.
Now Callaway is a senior associate and project manager for Kirksey’s community team, where she focuses on religious, nonprofit, and civic projects in and around Houston. Through projects such as renovations to a Boys and Girls Club or the radical transformation of a downtown office for the city’s First Baptist Church, Callaway’s work has positive effects on families and neighborhoods. The firm’s support of community involvement has bolstered Callaway, especially during her time as the 2017 AIA Houston president.
In her first eight months as chapter president, Callaway was charged with the construction of the Architecture Center Houston. She led the design competition and helped select an architect from among the chapter’s membership, crafted the RFQ to find a contractor, and helmed a task force that kept the project on schedule and budget. As the chapter’s leader, Callaway developed valuable relationships at the AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference and the AIA Conference on Architecture that would pay dividends when Hurricane Harvey bore down on southeast Texas.
As the storm’s rain fell and floodwater rose, Callaway’s connections from across the country reached out in support. In response to the storm, Callaway organized a safety assessment training program in which more than 80 design professionals learned how to evaluate the viability of damaged structures. In addition, the chapter’s Disaster Resiliency Task Force that she co-chaired developed a homeowner’s guide to rebuilding after flood events. It was shared with Houston’s leadership and a number of other groups working directly with affected homeowners.
Callaway has fully embraced the call for architects to promote the health and welfare of the public and demonstrates her commitment daily. As many who know her can attest, she does not seek recognition for her efforts but most certainly deserves it.