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.

Nakita Reed, AIA

Nakita Reed, AIA, is a true leader at the innovative intersection of historic preservation, sustainability, diversity, and community equity. Through her many volunteer contributions and mentoring initiatives, she has helped dismantle silos between those important topics while demonstrating their deep connections to race and gender. Her work has been critical in encouraging her peers to make a difference in the communities they serve.

In 2012, Reed co-founded Encore Sustainable Design in Baltimore, a boutique woman-owned firm that specialized in historic preservation and sustainability. Her much older business partner at the time was quite used to running a sole practice, so as the firm grew, Reed quickly stepped into the role of managing principal to reinforce the firm’s systems and framework. She discovered Smartsheet and created a course through the online platform Teachable to share with other small firms seeking better solutions for managing their firms.

Looking to make a broader impact, Reed left Encore Sustainable Design in 2019 and is now an associate at Quinn Evans. She continues to blend preservation and sustainability on projects such as the renovation of the 800 block of Harlem and Edmondson avenues in Baltimore. The city has thousands of vacant historic row house properties, and the project, which is expected to be completed next year, is renovating 38 of them. The new single-family homes will provide ownership opportunities for residents in the city’s Upton neighborhood, with the aim of increasing African American ownership throughout Baltimore.

“As one of the few licensed Black female architects in the country who is a trained historic preservationist, Nakita is a vocal proponent of sharing knowledge and paving a path for young women of color in the design profession,” wrote Saundra Little, FAIA, in a letter supporting Reed’s nomination for the Young Architects Award. “Her leadership around JEDI [Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion] items within the office has helped shape the way Quinn Evans discusses and engages with these issues both internally and externally.”

“As one of the few licensed Black female architects in the country who is a trained historic preservationist, Nakita is a vocal proponent of sharing knowledge and paving a path for young women of color in the design profession.”

Reed is eager to share her wealth of knowledge and regularly does so through emerging media, particularly podcasts. She has been interviewed and featured on nearly 15 podcast episodes throughout her young career, discussing preservation and sustainability in a way that is accessible to the general public. In 2020, as social justice became a prominent topic throughout the U.S., Reed launched her own podcast, Tangible Remnants, to explore the connections between architecture, preservation, sustainability, and race and gender. The title acknowledges the power the built environment has to tell the story of our ancestors. Reed centers her interviews on women and people of color, voices that are often missing from mainstream conversations about the built environment.

Throughout her career, Reed has served on a wide array of professional boards, including the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historically Black Colleges and University’s Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative Advisory Committee, and the Zero Net Carbon Collaboration for Existing and Historic Buildings. She is a vocal advocate to everyone she meets, whether they are fellow architects or preservationists, or homeowners or contractors. As a vital connector, her efforts have forged new relationships among design professionals and have equipped preservationists with a stronger understanding of the importance of sustainability.

“Nakita Reed is a true polymath, with expertise ranging from historic preservation to sustainability to rewriting history to include the Black experience,” wrote Constance Lai, FAIA, in a letter supporting Reed’s nomination. “She is always looking for connections, whether it’s reaching back through history to tell a story about a place, managing a Zoom meeting to discuss how historic buildings can become net zero, or interviewing a fellow architect on her podcast.”

Image credits

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Tracey Brown

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Quinn Evans

H&E

Nakita Reed