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.

Parke MacDowell, AIA

Parke MacDowell, AIA, uses the hands-on exploration of shapes to solve design problems and communicate solutions, and he integrates his background in construction to inform design and project management. His deep commitment to fabrication within practice not only enhances ensuing designs but also bolsters equity and adds value to the projects he is involved in. By producing prototypes and full-scale mock-ups, he ensures that all parties have a clear understanding of the problem and a voice in its resolution.

After completing his studies at Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan, MacDowell worked as a CNC machinist, welder, and carpenter before joining the Boston-based firm NADAAA in 2011. At NADAAA, MacDowell worked in the firm’s NADLAB, overseeing design-build projects as well as undertaking a more conventional architect’s role. In 2015, he brought his considerable computational design and digital fabrication skills to Payette, also in Boston, and established the firm’s in-house design research facility.

“Parke is an extremely talented designer; however, he stands apart from his peers through his national leadership in the areas of computational design and digital fabrication along with his innate ability to translate ideas into the civic realm,” wrote Gregory Minott, AIA, Boston Society of Architects’ 2021 president, in a letter nominating MacDowell for the Young Architects Award.

“Trained first as an engineer and then as an architect, he represents the potential of the profession to embrace the power of interdisciplinary thinking to execute innovative ideas, forms, and processes through making.”

At both firms, MacDowell created positions for himself that did not previously exist, allowing him to straddle the realms of architect, builder, and catalyst for change. More importantly, he has envisioned a curriculum and culture that entrenches his approach within every project team. Additionally, he is keenly interested in the power of architecture to build community and is engaged in numerous pro-bono initiatives that demonstrate how design can be a tool for outreach and community engagement.

MacDowell is a vital advocate and mentor for Payette’s younger staff and simultaneously advances the long-term vision of the firm’s leadership. Through his work, he has demonstrated that the firm can remain nimble and responsive to evolving aspirations by embracing capabilities that challenge the status quo. Moreover, he understands the critical importance of sharing knowledge freely, which, in turn, helps elevate the industry. To broaden knowledge sharing in the profession, MacDowell co-founded MKR|MGR, a Boston Society of Architects Knowledge Community dedicated to the development and enhancement of fabrication studios within architecture firms. It hosts regular shop visits and discussions with partners in architecture and allied professions.

Beyond his practice and service to the profession, MacDowell is active in his neighborhood advisory committees and volunteers at local schools, supporting their digital arts and robotics programs. Perhaps MacDowell’s most notable community work is his partnership with Beyond Walls, where art and repurposed infrastructure meet to activate underused public spaces and strengthen communities. He was the project architect for Beyond Walls’ project in Lynn, Massachusetts, which incorporated dynamic LED lighting installations to activate three of the town’s railway underpasses. That project received a 2021 AIA Regional and Urban Design Award.

“The support of Parke MacDowell and his firm, Payette, has allowed Beyond Walls to bring world-class design and visioning to challenged, low-income communities where resources are stretched thin,” wrote Beyond Walls CEO Al Wilson in a letter supporting MacDowell’s nomination. “These projects have delivered meaningful, tangible benefits to the diverse and underserved population that lives and works in these neighborhoods.”

Image credits

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Payette

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Payette

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Warren Jagger Photography, Payette

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Robert Benson Photography, Payette

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Payette