2021 Young Architect 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 consistent role model for the architectural community, Patricia Culley, AIA, harnesses her influence and collaborative nature to advance the profession and design excellence. Culley is fully aware of the responsibilities architects bear in shaping the built environment, and, as a design professional, educator, and catalyst for change, she works tirelessly alongside her peers to improve our communities.

Culley joined Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in 2007, and last year she was elevated to associate principal. In her new role, she is tasked with nurturing innovation and mentoring the firm’s younger staff and representing the firm’s design values and commitment to sustainability and equity on the national stage. In addition, Culley leads many of the firm’s most technically demanding projects. With the Frick Environmental Center in Pittsburgh, a 2019 AIA COTE Top Ten Plus recipient and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s first certified Living Building project, Culley’s penchant for knowledge sharing is made evident. Transcending the role of project architect for this ambitious project, she leveraged her deep knowledge of biophilic design to not only educate the project team, but also countless professionals and the public through speaking engagements and publications.

“Patricia embodies all the virtues that this award stands for, having demonstrated extraordinary leadership and made substantial contributions to the profession.”

As project manager for the in-process Virginia Autonomous Systems Testing (VAST) facility at the University of Virginia’s Charlottesville campus, Culley is currently leading the design of a unique program for a facility with very few peers. During the pre-design phase for the project’s program and conceptual massing, she and her team worked closely with the school’s leadership and faculty. Culley also facilitated a series of town hall discussions to solicit crucial programmatic adjacencies and spatial requirements necessary for the unique project. The resulting analysis has proven to be an effective way for the School of Engineering and Applied Science to present the vision for the project to the university at large.

“Patricia embodies all the virtues that this award stands for, having demonstrated extraordinary leadership and made substantial contributions to the profession,” wrote Gregory R. Mottola, FAIA, a principal at the firm, in a letter nominating Culley for the Young Architect Award. “She is a brilliant example of the talented, emerging leaders at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and we greatly value her contributions to our firm’s success.”

Culley is an active member of AIA Pittsburgh’s board leadership, providing guidance and advocacy for issues surrounding sustainability at board meetings, at member events, and through the chapter’s digital publications. Through the chapter’s Education Committee, she develops annual learning opportunities and shapes its AIA Build Pittsburgh conference, which welcomes nearly 500 industry professionals each year. Her ability to engage others has led to invitations to a number of community design initiatives, including a biophilic design workshop for several Pittsburgh city departments last year.

Because of the close ties she maintains with her mentors and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, where Culley received her Bachelor of Architecture in 2003, she is a regular participant in design critiques and workshops for both graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, Culley has delivered guest lectures at Kent State University, Penn State University, and the University of Minnesota.

Already in her young career, Culley’s influence has proven to be far-reaching, and it continues to grow. Her important contributions to sustainability and biophilic design, as well as her eagerness to share her knowledge with her peers and students, will no doubt continue to have a positive effect on the built environment.


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

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

Frances Halsband, FAIA, Kliment Halsband Architects, New York, New York

Ivenue Love-Stanley, FAIA, Stanley Love-Stanley, Atlanta, Georgia

Ryan McEnroe, AIA, Quinn Evans, Washington, D.C

Chris-Annmarie Spence, AIA, Wkarch, Chicago, Illinois

Image credits

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Chad Ziemendorf

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Denmarsh Studios

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Chuck Choi Architectural Photography

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Ed Massery

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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson