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.

The career of Christopher L. Ludwig, AIA, is marked by his devotion to design excellence and his quest to provide innovative solutions. He mentors both students and peers, motivating them and sharing his wealth of knowledge. His contributions to the profession so far have resulted in a positive impact on his firm and the design community he is eager to represent.

Ludwig’s desire for design excellence was ignited while he was pursuing his master’s degree in architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture & Planning, where he received numerous studio awards, scholarships, and the AIA Henry Adams Medal. Upon his graduation, he was hired by Milwaukee’s Kahler Slater where, just 13 years later, he has risen to associate principal and owner of the 125-person firm. He leads award-winning projects focused on higher education and cultural institutions that have shaped cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Miami, and Singapore for the better.

Thriving on collaboration, Ludwig delivers elegant solutions to complex architectural problems that delight clients and exceed their needs. He was the lead designer for the new home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, transforming a shuttered 1930s-era movie palace into a 1,750-seat concert hall. The project merges the existing auditorium with a new 12-story tower and has sparked development opportunities in a challenged Milwaukee neighborhood. Ludwig’s work has garnered a number of design awards for his firm, including an AIA Wisconsin Honor Award for the Elgin Community College Health & Life Science Building, which proves that modest budgets do not preclude outstanding design.

Ludwig’s efforts to educate the next generation of architects began at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the same time as his professional career. In 2009, working with the dean of the school’s urban planning program, he engaged charter school students who were interested in urban gardening. The resulting Urban Farm[ing] project illustrated the evolution of the urban landscape through gardens, green roofs, and vertical farming. In addition, he has served as a guest critic at the school more than 40 times.

A leader in his local design community, Ludwig is active with AIA Wisconsin and is a regular presence at its meetings and events. During the chapter’s annual convention, his entry in the Cheep Diggs birdhouse competition, which raises funds for area scholarships, received the Most Sustainable Design Award and garnered the highest donation. In 2013, he won first place in the chapter’s Emerging Professionals Competition–Entertainment Complex, which challenged designers to reimagine an existing sports complex and its environmental context.

His dedication to excellence coupled with his willingness to receive creative feedback from colleagues and clients has made Ludwig the collaborator of choice in his firm and community. Energetic and selfless in his approach, Ludwig inspires those around him to work toward a better world.


Edward Vance, FAIA (Chair), EV&A Architects, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada

Peter Kuttner, FAIA, Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

John Castellana, FAIA, TMP Architecture, Inc., Bloomfield Hill, Michigan

Roger Schluntz, FAIA, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Frances Halsband, FAIA, Klimet Halsband Architects, New York, New York

Lora Teagarden, AIA, RATIO Architects, Inc.,  Indianapolis, Indiana

Image credits

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CJ Foeckler

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Kahler Slater

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Kate Joyce

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Board of Regents of of the University of Wisconsin System

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