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.
Jeff Guggenheim, AIA, is keenly aware of the resourcefulness and can-do attitude required in small firms, which comprise nearly 75 percent of all firms in the profession. Despite its small size, Guggenheim’s Portland, Oregon, firm, which he has helmed for nearly a decade, regularly produces award-winning work that has helped elevate him as a vocal advocate for his peers.
At Guggenheim Architecture and Design Studio, which Guggenheim founded with his wife, Jenny, an interior designer, business is viewed as a creative endeavor. While exploring the design freedom he cultivates through strong relationships with residential and commercial clients, Guggenheim seeks to break conventions for his five-person firm. The firm relies on its Instagram account to share its work and process with more than 5,000 followers, offering an uncomplicated look at design for the interested public.
Guggenheim compensates his staff 10 percent more than what is listed in the AIA Compensation Report and promotes a healthy work-life balance through a 35-hour work week with flexible hours. In place of free coffee or a beer tap in the break room, Guggenheim subscribes to a farmshare, and the weekly bounty is evenly split among the staff. When COVID-19 emerged, the firm had just signed a lease to expand its office space. While uncertainty reigned, Guggenheim quickly enrolled all of his staff in Oregon’s Work Share program, which allows for staff retention through unemployment benefits. He was also able to secure a federal Payroll Protection Program loan to avoid any layoffs.
“He has a high regard for the profession and does his utmost to hold himself to the high standards established through AIA licensure.”
“I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many firms and members in Portland, and the firm that has impressed me the most is Guggenheim Architecture,” wrote Curtis Wilson, AIA, executive vice president and chief operating officer at AIA Oregon, in a letter nominating Guggenheim for the Young Architect Award. “During my time in this role, Jeff has demonstrated leadership through the Small Firm Exchange where he leads through a philosophy of ‘learning through sharing,’ using stories and examples of his successes and challenges to help others grow.”
In an effort to learn more about small firm ownership, Guggenheim joined AIA Oregon’s Small Firm Round Table, then known as the Small Firm Exchange, in 2008. Later, he was appointed chair of the committee and sought out opportunities to gather together architects representing small firms in an effort to boost their practices. His leadership transformed former rivals into close colleagues and fostered a sense of openness among the chapter’s membership. In 2016, his contributions in Oregon led to a three-year term as the AIA Northwest and Pacific regional representative for the national Small Firm Exchange. During his tenure, which ended last year, he shared the specifics of AIA Oregon’s membership health plan and coordinated meetings between the AIA Trust, the exchange, and health plan brokers.
Guggenheim regularly leverages his knowledge and architecture skills as a force for good, engaging in hundreds of hours of pro bono design work, finding avenues for mentorship, and sponsoring initiatives such as Hip Hop Architecture Camp and the Urban League of Portland. He recently participated in a six-session equity, diversity, and inclusion leadership training offered through AIA Oregon’s social justice action plan.
“He has a high regard for the profession and does his utmost to hold himself to the high standards established through AIA licensure,” wrote Hope A. Telford, AIA, of Telford + Brown Studio Architecture in a letter supporting Guggenheim’s nomination. “In addition, his willingness to tackle challenging situations in interesting ways has served as an inspiration to me since we met. With everything he does, Jeff goes above and beyond expectations, pushing the bounds of design, helping the practice of architecture, and contributing greatly with his service.”