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.
Jennifer Park, AIA, has embraced her dual roles of educator and practitioner in order to forge new and more equitable pathways for the next generation of architects and creative thinkers. A vocal advocate for meaningful change and a champion for all architects, Park has always paired her practice with community engagement.
Park has practiced in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, easily three of the nation’s most significant cities for architecture. In Chicago, she founded the small but very mighty Jurassic Studio, which she operated from 2015 to 2019. After becoming a principal at Brininstool + Lynch, one of Chicago’s most-respected firms, Park’s guiding hand was significantly responsible for the firm’s receipt of the AIA Chicago Firm of the Year award in 2019.
“This is a determined architect, committed to design excellence, participatory process, and equity in every community throughout our city,” wrote Peter Exley, FAIA
As part of the design team for the Obama Presidential Center, Park helped led the design of the state-of-the-art interactive museum program for the facility, which is expected to be completed later this year. Located in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, the museum will highlight the legacy and impact of Barack Obama’s historic presidency while providing a nimble platform for the former president and first lady’s evolving work. For this project, Park worked closely with the community, presenting the project to it and illuminating it in her work as a designer and architect.
Beyond her practice, Park has long been affiliated with the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she currently serves as an associate studio professor and the second year studio coordinator in its bachelor of architecture program. Since her students are still in the formative years of their education, Park has instilled a framework for them to explore current and future conditions while broadening their understanding of the architect’s social responsibility. To help widen students’ global awareness, she has traveled for studios in Mexico City and hosted panel conversations with community-focused organizations. In addition to her hours in the studio, Park co-chairs the school’s diversity and inclusion committee and chairs its lecture committee to ensure diverse voices are heard and a wide range of social issues are explored.
“This is a determined architect, committed to design excellence, participatory process, and equity in every community throughout our city,” wrote Peter Exley, FAIA, in a letter nominating Park for the Young Architect Award. “Her reputation as a professor notes her as enthusiastic, infectious, positive, and joyful, evidenced firsthand as a colleague at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and now at the Illinois institute of Technology. In difficult and turbulent times it is this notable contribution that deserves singular recognition.”
Her commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion has also led Park to chair AIA Chicago’s committee focused on it. For the past several years, she spurred both awareness and action while growing the committee from five members to 15. It hosted a three-part discussion titled Intentional Change, largely hosted on Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic, that explored different aspects of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession. The committee has also developed a commitment for firms to adopt in pursuit of more equitable practices and deployed a firm assessment tool last year.
“It is critically important that AIA have strong, young voices like Jen’s. Young architects have the capacity to connect with younger generations while pushing older ones to think creatively and expansively,” Kim Yao, AIA, the 2020 AIA New York president, wrote of Park. “Jen adroitly does this every day and in varied contexts, seamlessly navigating these places of practice with engagement and intelligence. She brings courage, enthusiasm, directness, humor, and determination to her work—an inspiration to her students, mentees, and peers.”