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.

Ryan J. Jang, AIA

With a focus on mission-driven design for supportive housing, education, and community projects, Ryan Jang, AIA, has distinguished himself as an exceptional architect and advocate for marginalized voices. His work defines excellence through its holistic approach to high-performing buildings that contribute positively to the communities he serves. Beyond his accomplishments as a professional, Jang is deeply committed to social justice, working tirelessly to promote environmental stewardship and resilience in underserved communities.

Jang’s introduction to architecture and design began in his San Francisco high school and Enterprise for Youth, a nonprofit that seeks to empower the city’s under-resourced youth through internships. Jang continues to practice in the city where he was raised and is a principal at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects. He is committed to reinvesting in his hometown by addressing inequality through design, and he infuses his equitable practice with his uplifting attitude.

After graduating from California Polytechnic State University, Jang spent the early years of his career working with Fougeron Architecture, which was recognized with the AIA California Distinguished Practice Award in 2019. As a member of a small studio, he learned early on the importance of establishing strong design concepts with careful attention to craft and detail. Descriptions of several of the projects he was engaged with at the firm have been published in The New York Times and Architectural Record.

At Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, recipient of the 2017 AIA Architecture Firm Award, he has had the opportunity to lead a number of important projects from early design through construction, and the firm’s mission-driven ethos has complemented his own sincere commitment to inclusivity. For projects like Casa Adelante in San Francisco’s Mission District, Jang prioritized place-keeping and resilience by shaping an interconnected community of affordable homes, complete with an early-childhood education center and spaces for nonprofit art organizations. As a response to a community facing significant gentrification, the project offers low-income families a new sense of vibrancy and creativity.

Throughout all of his work, Jang has consistently embedded a sense of welcome and engaged key stakeholders. He also stresses the importance of building strong relationships with collaborators by advancing strategic partnerships with other firms that share similar values.

“Having collaborated with numerous firms over the past 30 years, I can say without reservation that Ryan Jang stands out. In no other case have I found a partner so willing to roll up his sleeves and join in the discussion or take on a new challenge,” Charles S. Klee, AIA, a principal at Payette, wrote of Jang in a letter supporting his nomination for the Young Architects Award.

“Largely due to his influence, our firms are continuing to collaborate and seek new opportunities.”

Jang embraces the ideals of service, contributing to his local and local community through pro bono endeavors. Since 2005, he has volunteered with City Hope Community Center, a living room for residents in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. In 2015, when the center sought a new home, Jang helped find a space to rent and renovate, and also served as the owner’s representative. Thanks to his efforts, those in need have access to bathrooms, hot showers, and other basic human necessities.

In 2010, Jang was approached by a group of medical professionals looking to develop a hospital for women and children in Yei, South Sudan. He oversaw the development of a master plan and basic hospital design on a pro bono basis. The first phase of the project was completed in 2012; it included 40 beds, a maternity ward, a special care nursery, and laboratory facilities.

“In this role for the past 25 years, I have had many opportunities to work with dozens of design professionals, and I can honestly say that Ryan is without question at the top of the list,” wrote Scott E. Shackleton, assistant dean for capital programs and facilities at the University of California, Berkeley College of Engineering, in a letter supporting Jang’s nomination. “I consider him one the most conscientious architects I have ever worked with.”

Image credits

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