2022 Young Architects Award
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.
Paul J. Avazier, AIA
Paul J. Avazier, AIA, embraces the challenges architecture presents, resolving its complexities with a thoughtful approach that has allowed him to accomplish much in his young career. His engagement with AIA began during his education at Philadelphia's Drexel University, emerging alongside his desire to give back to his community. After significant contributions to AIA Philadelphia, he was made its 2020 president, the youngest in the chapter's history, and he remains one of its most visible and service-minded members.
Avazier is an associate principal at Philadelphia's Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, where he has led the firm's mentoring efforts and staff development. He works closely with junior staff members to help them hone their design and presentation skills while offering insight on how they can contribute to society. In recognition of the firm's support of emerging professionals, AIA Pennsylvania has named Atkin Olshin Schade an EPiC firm for the past four years.
Avazier's history of service dates back to 2000, when he was named an Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America. Shortly after graduating from Drexel, he recognized a gulf between emerging professionals and more established architects and designers. As he began his career, he joined AIA Philadelphia and assumed a leadership role within its Associates Committee, hoping to support those facing the same challenges. Later, he became the chapter's associate director, envisioning a robust slate of critically important programming during the Great Recession when many of his colleagues found themselves out of work and facing cloudy futures.
"Paul's interest in the community of architecture was obvious from his time as a student. As in practice, many architecture students tend to 'have their heads down,' quite rightly concentrating on their work," wrote Pennsylvania State Sen. Tim Kearney, AIA, in a letter supporting Avazier's nomination for the Young Architects Award. "It is the rare students who become interested in the bigger picture, understanding the interconnected nature of our work as architects. In this, Paul's drive to provide service to others is exemplary, and he has proven himself to be a selfless participant in this endeavor both as a student and a practitioner."
"It is the rare students who become interested in the bigger picture, understanding the interconnected nature of our work as architects. In this, Paul's drive to provide service to others is exemplary, and he has proven himself to be a selfless participant in this endeavor both as a student and a practitioner."
His efforts to broaden access to resources for the architectural community in Philadelphia and beyond led him to chair AIA Philadelphia's Forum on Architecture + Design program and lead efforts to organize national conferences. Leading a Big Sibs chapter as president is a daunting task, one that Avazier met with aplomb. He entered 2020 excited to present his innovative agenda, which included hosting the 2021 AIA Conference on Architecture in Philadelphia. When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Avazier put aside his own plan to better serve the chapter's 1,700 members by focusing on increased virtual programming, improved communications, and guidance in converting to a remote working environment.
As Avazier cycles off AIA Philadelphia's board of directors following eight years of service, he has begun a new engagement with the Center for Architecture and Design. Following the passing of John Claypool, FAIA, AIA Philadelphia and the center's longtime executive director, Avazier recognized that one of Claypool's lasting impacts was the founding of the Charter High School for Architecture and Design. Founded in 2000 as an AIA Philadelphia legacy project, the school was closed by the School District of Philadelphia in 2020. To reverse the impact that closure had on thousands of students, the Architecture and Design Education Program was founded in 2017. Through a capital campaign that Avazier is leading, the program will support students through in-classroom and center-focused curricula and programs.
"As if to complete what he started, Paul has stepped up to lead an ambitious capital campaign destined to redefine the Center for Architecture and Design," wrote Frank Grauman, FAIA, in support of Avazier's nomination. "The centerpiece of that effort is, once again, service to society—enabling the Center to reposition itself as the locus for our ambitious initiative, supporting thousands of K-12 students throughout the Philadelphia region."