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.
Katelyn Chapin, AIA, is a dedicated community builder who melds leadership, advocacy, and mentorship to advance the profession and serve her clients. With a seemingly endless stamina for efforts that better the built environment and inspire the next generation of architects, Chapin has established herself as a clear role model for her peers.
Chapin is an associate with Svigals + Partners in New Haven, Connecticut. As a former three-sport varsity athlete, she is the ultimate team player and has helped entrench that ethos in the firm. She is a critical member of the firm’s high-profile design commissions and has shaped its design process by welcoming diverse shareholder voices through focus groups. She has fully embraced play-based activities that encourage participants to shed their inhibitions, a method that has enhanced the firm’s evolving culture, too.
Her ideas steered the cohesive vision for Sandy Hook Elementary School’s new 80,000-square-foot facility in Newtown, Connecticut. Situated between a forested ridge and low-lying wetland, the LEED Gold school harnesses the regenerative and healing powers of nature. It integrates state-mandated security measures without overriding the welcoming learning environment.
As an integral member of the team from programming through construction, Chapin facilitated collaborative visioning workshops for a 50-member group comprising parents, teachers, and members of the school community. Recognizing that the community was forever changed following the tragic events of December 12, 2012, Chapin and the firm approached the project with sensitivity and compassion. In addition, as director of the firm’s KidsBuild! pro bono mentorship program, Chapin worked directly with students in grades 2 through 4 and provided insight on the design and construction process through hands-on activities.
“Katelyn Chapin is a young professional who has already left her mark on so many and, in doing so, has already strengthened a generation of architects.”
“Katelyn took the initiative to revive and advance our KidsBuild! program, a pro bono service provided to our K-12 education clients to engage the students in the design, engineering, and construction aspects of their new school,” wrote Jay Brotman, AIA, partner, and Julia McFadden, AIA, associate principal, of Svigals + Partners, in a letter supporting Chapin’s nomination for the Young Architect Award. “Through this program Katelyn has directly mentored over 300 students through a range of hands-on activities, site visits, and mural painting workshops. Most notably, she solidified and documented how the program could be repeated on future projects.”
When Chapin began her professional career in New Haven, she was in a new city and with few contacts. To remedy that, she joined AIA, and after several years of managing the communications and networking events for AIA Connecticut’s Emerging Professionals Committee, she assumed new regional and national challenges. As the young architect regional director for New England, she organized the A’19 and A’20 mini MBA workshop while contributing a number of articles for Young Architects Forum (YAF) publications. Her efforts propelled her to become the YAF Advisory Committee’s 2020–2021 community director, a role through which she amplifies the voices of young architects.
When AIA Connecticut reignited its Women in Architecture Committee in 2018, Chapin ensured its success by hosting roundtable discussions at seven different firms across the state. She served as a moderator at the chapter’s bimonthly meetings, leading discussions on the Guides for Equitable Practice. Most recently, she co-developed a video learning series for young students that illuminates the design process and connects it to some of Connecticut’s most iconic architecture. The series has proved invaluable for students who have moved to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Katelyn Chapin is a young professional who has already left her mark on so many and, in doing so, has already strengthened a generation of architects,” William (Griff) Davenport, FAIA, DLR Group, CEO, wrote of Chapin. “She is truly a leader among her peers!”