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 specialist in design for learning, JoAnn Hindmarsh Wilcox, AIA, has greatly influenced the Pacific Northwest’s reputation as a national leader in the design of spaces for K-12 students. Operating in an area that is regularly constrained by tight budgets and entrenched conventions, she is able to sensitively listen and provide innovative solutions that influence K-12 design nationally. Her work is widely cited and has been celebrated with more than 82 design awards from the local to international levels.

Widely known for being a champion for children, Wilcox has crafted a design culture based on empathy through engagement. Her talent and passion were clear to Mahlum, where Wilcox is a principal, design lead, and public engagement lead in the firm’s Seattle office. Wilcox is also the youngest member of the firm’s executive leadership team and has overseen the design of more than 40 award-winning projects. Through projects such as Arlington Elementary School in Tacoma, which departs radically from tradition and received a 2019 AIA National Honor Award, she has helped position Mahlum as a nationally recognized firm.

Raised in a family with 11 sisters, Wilcox is the second youngest and the first to graduate from college. In 1999, she left Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with bachelor’s degrees in building sciences and architecture and a deep understanding of the value of education. Working one-on-one with students as an architect solidified her commitment to education, and every day she ensures her talents empower the next generation.

Today, as a working mother raising two daughters, she aims to alter the dynamic for women in architecture. She regularly shares her expertise by mentoring young women designers, creating a path to design leadership on her project teams and throughout Mahlum. Beyond the firm, she appoints women to chair design committees, serves as a juror for awards programs, and critiques student work. In 2016, she assembled an all-women team for AIA Seattle’s honor awards program.

As an architect in the public realm, Wilcox takes her responsibilities seriously and is motivated by the impact her work has on students. Data collected in the communities she serves shows that her designs have led to an increase in test scores, staff satisfaction, and community pride. Her advocacy efforts have placed social justice at the forefront of the conversation on school design. Each project she completes fuels a revolution in school design, empowering other architects to continue the fight in their own communities.

Wilcox’s work elevates the human condition and hinges on the health of the planet, the body, and the mind. As an advocate for those whose voices need amplification, she reveals architecture’s ability to create equitable spaces with social justice at their core.


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

Wilcox- JoAnn Hindmarsh-03

Mahlum Architects

Wilcox- JoAnn Hindmarsh-06

Mahlum Architects

Wilcox- JoAnn Hindmarsh-05

Mahlum Architects

Wilcox- JoAnn Hindmarsh-07

Mahlum Architects

Wilcox- JoAnn Hindmarsh-04

Mahlum Architects