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.
Nicole Seekely, AIA
In her professional practice and important community service efforts, Nicole Seekely, AIA, takes a thoughtful and respectful approach that has positioned her as a true citizen architect. An active leader in her firm, community, and AIA, Seekely levies her talents and energy to demonstrate the important contributions young designers can make to the profession.
After returning to Atlanta following her graduate studies at Columbia University, Seekely quickly found her voice in the arenas of architecture and community activism. Shortly after achieving licensure, she joined AIA Georgia’s board of directors and served there for five years. Her commitment to the chapter and the important contributions she made to it resulted in her receiving the chapter’s Emerging Professional Award as well as recognition as an AIA Atlanta John A. Busby Jr. Exceptional Young Architect.
During her tenure at AIA Georgia, Seekely was charged with revitalizing the chapter’s design awards program to attract younger members and bolster revenue. Prior to her intervention, the program had become stale, was poorly attended, and lost the chapter money year after year. In just two years, she transformed the awards, hosting them in a series of exciting venues. She envisioned new sponsorship opportunities, attracted well-respected jurors, and revamped the ticket fee structure. Today, AIA Georgia’s budget reflects the awards program as a significant source of revenue.
In addition, she formed AIA Georgia Equity in Architecture, an organization that has been advancing women in the profession through advocacy and professional development initiatives since 2017. Last year, it offered the Developer Speak Series that taught young architects the critical aspects of private development, preparing them to become important assets at their firms. She has made a lasting impact on gender equity in architecture, and the organization was celebrated with the AIA Georgia Bronze Medal Award in 2020.
"An active leader in her firm, community, and AIA, Seekely levies her talents and energy to demonstrate the important contributions young designers can make to the profession."
Running parallel to her advocacy, Seekely seeks to advance the profession through her design work. Recognizing that architecture is public in nature, and that architects have the duty to communicate with the communities they serve, Seekely leads by example and allows her work to do the talking. She is currently a project architect at Perkins&Will, which she joined last year. Previously, as a project architect at Atlanta’s Smith Dalia Architects, Seekely was an integral member of the team that delivered The Works Parking Garage for the city’s downtown. The project is reflective of Seekely’s ideals, offering beauty for a typology that receives much scorn. Its compelling façade delights its users and allows the garage to serve as a beacon for the district.
“I’ve watched Nicole as she has grown professionally over the years, and she does not shy away from whatever challenging projects come her way,” Steven G. Powers, past president of AIA Georgia, said in a letter nominating Seekely for the Young Architects Award. “She exhibits the qualities any firm would desire in a young architect: passion, respect, diligence, and accountability.”
Seekely is a regular presence at zoning committee meetings for her neighborhood and others. Her continuous involvement and investment in her community encouraged a developer to approach her when a 7-acre parcel of land became available in her neighborhood. The developer engaged Seekely and Smith Dalia Architects to provide master planning, rezoning, and community engagement services, and she led 14 community meetings that provided countless plan variations. The resulting mixed-use project provides density on a transit spline that respects the surrounding single-family homes.
Since 2015, Seekely has been chair of the Historic Preservation and Land Use Committee of Cabbagetown, an Atlanta neighborhood that she previously called home. She provides guidance for anyone seeking to perform additions and renovations to their homes, and advises developers working with vacant properties on appropriate measures for the neighborhood. Every application that is presented to the Atlanta Design Commission is also sent to her committee, and Seekely is viewed as the local architect with expertise the community can rely on.