2021 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.

Through his deep commitment to authentic, meaning-driven design, Adam Harding, AIA, continuously delivers thoughtful architecture that delights and connects people from all walks of life. As a leader in the profession, he spearheaded the ownership transition of one of Denver’s most admired firms and works to instill a culture of belonging throughout all of his endeavors.

Harding finds purpose in design by seeking to improve community members’ lives. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in environmental design at the University of Colorado Boulder, he joined Denver’s Roth Sheppard Architects as a designer in 2004. Since then, he has risen to design principal and partner of the 18-person firm, nurturing a culture of design excellence by mentoring his colleagues and drawing on his wealth of experience to solve practical design problems.

As a leader in the firm, Harding has been critical in reestablishing its vision and defining its culture. Building on its core values, he developed the firm’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity policy in an effort to foster conversations that create positive change both in Roth Sheppard’s office and the communities it serves.

“In a time where society seems to mandate a separation between our personal and professional relationships, Adam has created a firm culture where he ends his day by personally acknowledging anyone still working in the studio,” wrote Brian Berryhill, AIA, a partner at Roth Sheppard, in a letter supporting Harding’s nomination for the Young Architect Award. “He leads with grace and empathy, making space for each member of our firm to express their individual needs for professional development and looks for ways to ensure our firm culture fulfills them personally as well.”

“Few architects his age have generated such a robust portfolio of award-winning work, spanning from functional yet iconic public safety buildings to dynamic retail spaces to trendsetting restaurants”

Harding’s talents have guided Roth Sheppard’s award-winning residential, commercial, and municipal projects, such as the 26,000-square-foot combination of a brewery, bar, restaurant, and lounge for Blue Moon Brewing Company. Located in a 1950s bow truss warehouse along the South Platte River in Denver, the curved form of the existing structure provided inspiration for the design throughout. Inside, the circular bar and repurposed concrete pipes that serve as dining booths also echo the moon and Valencia orange slice that are the hallmarks of the brewery’s branding.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Harding ensured AIA Colorado’s continued success in his role as the chapter’s 2020 president. He was instrumental in leading the chapter’s board in establishing a new vision and set of values that place environmental stewardship and equity, diversity, and inclusion at the forefront. Harding also led the board in revising state bylaws to better align with the chapter’s new vision and AIA National bylaws.

In addition to his role at AIA Colorado, Harding was also the president of the board of trustees for The Architectural Education Foundation of Colorado. He disbursed more than $142,000 in scholarship money to students and professionals to assist with education and professional development initiatives. As a member of the City of Denver Landmark Ordinance Task Force, Harding helped inform the growth and development of the city’s first historic district.

“Few architects his age have generated such a robust portfolio of award-winning work, spanning from functional yet iconic public safety buildings to dynamic retail spaces to trendsetting restaurants,” wrote Stuart L. Coppedge, FAIA, Principal, RTA Architects, in support of Harding’s nomination. “Not resting on his past accomplishments, he believes architecture is not just a learned profession, but a learning one, which requires a constant pursuit of technical development, personal growth, and professional collaboration.”


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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Adam Harding

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James Florio Photography

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James Florio Photography

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James Florio Photography

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James Florio Photography