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.

As a leading voice in the promotion of integrated design, Oswaldo Tapia, AIA, has followed a path of design excellence in educational projects. By gathering expert perspectives, research, and input from every stakeholder, Tapia has built an impressive and widely celebrated portfolio. He believes deeply in architecture’s ability to positively impact communities and has dedicated himself to working with students to reinforce the importance of collaboration and user-driven approaches to projects.

A native of Lima, Peru, Tapia immigrated to the United States as a young teenager and later studied architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he would later form the school’s first successful integrated design studio and serve as a guest speaker and juror. He joined LPA Inc. in Irvine, California, as an intern in 2002 and was named associate in 2015. His trajectory from intern to lead designer and associate of one of the largest firms in the country reflects the impact he has made on the built environment and his peers. The same year he was promoted to associate, Tapia helped form the firm’s LPA Foundation and served on its board of directors. To date, the foundation has donated nearly $300,000 in design services and 2,250 volunteer hours across 25 nonprofits, two elementary schools, and five universities.

As architects face encroachment from outside professionals and new projects become increasingly complex, Tapia’s collaborative approach allows him to work fluidly with integrated teams of engineers, landscape architects, and interior designers to craft sustainable, holistic designs. He has led nearly two dozen projects, many facing strict, state-mandated budgets, that have received more than 30 awards. For the recently completed Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School in Irvine, Tapia led the design of three new buildings and their requisite exterior spaces. The project, which includes a world-class STEAM facility and an expanded curriculum for all grade levels, meets the AIA 2030 Commitment and has led to a boost in enrollment and student performance.

Tapia has served California’s design community through a number of leadership positions at AIA Orange County and his alma mater. He is the chapter’s 2020–2021 vice president and president-elect and previously led its design awards program. To raise awareness of the awards, he developed an innovative social media strategy and greatly increased the number of entries and gala attendees in 2018. At Cal Poly Pomona, he lectures in the master’s and undergraduate programs and united the architecture and landscape architecture departments.

Outside of the office, Tapia continues to be generous with his time. He has been a part of numerous CANstruction events that have supported Southern California food banks and has served as a design advisor for the Solar Decathlon. For more than a decade, he has been a youth soccer coach, now coaching two of his own children, at the recreational and competitive club level.


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

Tapia- Oswaldo-03

Oswaldo Tapia

Tapia- Oswaldo-06

Cris Costea Photography

Tapia- Oswaldo-07

Cris Costea Photography

Tapia- Oswaldo-04

Cris Costea Photography

Tapia- Oswaldo-05

Cris Costea Photography