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.
In nearly every way, Melody H. Tang, AIA, exemplifies the highest goals and aspirations of AIA. She leads by example on issues surrounding sustainability, transparency, and collaboration, relying on her multicultural experience to manage complex teams and present new opportunities for young architects from underrepresented communities. A true ambassador for the profession, Tang is a tireless advocate for sustainable design and a champion for anyone who dreams of becoming an architect.
Tang is a project architect and associate at LPA Design Studios’ Irvine, California, office, where she works to shape large-scale projects and impactful community facilities. She joined the firm in 2005 and has been involved in an array of project sectors, including corporate, higher education, hospitality, and cultural projects. She was named an associate in 2020 at the age of 40, a recognition of her contributions to the firm’s success. Her background and dual-cultural identity inform all aspects of her work, allowing her to nimbly navigate complex projects and bring empathy and understanding to challenging group dynamics.
While balancing two professional roles, Tang continually delivers projects on time and on budget. She is often the glue that binds teams together, and she works across disciplines to connect stakeholders with different priorities and interests. In addition, she plays a vital role in ensuring the firm meets its sustainability targets. In the past three years alone, LPA reduced energy use by more than 70% compared to AIA 2030 Commitment baselines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tang helped the firm transition to a fully remote studio while maintaining the same level of client service.
“Her inclusive leadership style allows each voice at the table to participate in authoring the solution, discovering the innovation to deliver a successful project,” Wendy S. Rogers, FAIA, LPA’s CEO, wrote in a letter supporting Tang’s nomination for the Young Architects Award. “She is a relentless team player, managing the complexity of large projects, knowing collaboration and balance are critical to achieving the performance goals. Her professionalism and ability to execute projects led us to recognize her leadership with promotion to associate in 2020.”
Tang also leads the way for a more equitable profession and draws on her experience as an Asian American woman in the construction world to foster a greater understanding of the challenges minority architects and underrepresented groups face. At LPA, she was responsible for the formation of the firm’s equity, diversity, and inclusion advisory council, which includes representatives from each of the firm’s studio locations as well as human resources and firm leadership. She also envisioned its interdisciplinary diversity scholarship program, which provides up to five students with $5,000 scholarships.
“Her inclusive leadership style allows each voice at the table to participate in authoring the solution, discovering the innovation to deliver a successful project.”
Tang’s support of AIA is unwavering, and she has volunteered her time and energy to serve the profession at every step of her career. She has been a member of AIA Orange County’s board of directors since 2019 and helped establish the chapter’s five-year strategic plan, which focused on aligning its mission statement with sustainability and diversity goals. While co-chair and chair of the chapter’s design awards committee, award submissions grew by more than 21%.
“Passionate about our profession, student mentor, advocate, and leader of the AIA are only some of the strengths that come to mind when thinking about Melody Tang’s attributes,” wrote Oswaldo Tapia, AIA, William Itzen, AIA, and Timothy Smallwood, AIA, all AIA Orange County past presidents, in a letter supporting Tang’s nomination. “Melody has been and continues to be a leader at AIA Orange County, serving in various roles which have allowed her to enhance the value of AIA membership, advance students to accredited schools of architecture, and promote AIA as community leaders.”
In her neighborhood, Tang aims her skills at initiatives that help the hungry, unhoused, and those living in poverty. She has volunteered for a wide range of projects, including traveling to Mexico in 2007 to build more than 16 simple and sturdy homes for families in need.