About the award

The Young Architects Award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.

A recognized leader in climate action and sustainability, Simona Fischer, AIA, embraces leadership and service in these critical areas in several ways. An environmentalist from a young age, Fischer implores her colleagues to explore new ideas without fear or preconceived notions and to share them widely for the benefit of the entire profession.

Fischer is the director of sustainable practice at Minneapolis’ MSR Design, where she has worked closely with her teams to develop multiple tools that positively impact the ways in which the firm delivers projects to its clients. Its Sustainable Materials Action Packet is the firm’s chief communication tool and strategy, allowing MSR Design to set thresholds and convey requirements to manufacturers and make material decisions in line with the AIA Materials Pledge. Additionally, the MSR Design Sustainability Tracker, based on the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, holistically tracks environmental impacts for all the firm's work.

Perhaps most importantly, the critical tools Fischer has developed are publicly available to help grow industry knowledge as opposed to closely guarding details and design ideas. Committed to knowledge exchange, she has worked with several organizations addressing sustainable design and human health. Since 2018, Fischer has been an advisor for the Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree, and she is a regular collaborator with Carbon Leadership Forum, International Living Future Institute, and BuildingGreen Sustainable Design Leaders.

Fischer is an engaged leader with AIA Minnesota, a chapter with a strong Committee on the Environment (COTE) and Government Affairs committee. She co-chairs COTE and participates in its events, and she travels to Minnesota’s State Capitol to speak with lawmakers, inspiring her fellow members to become more involved in governmental advocacy. She has testified in the state legislature about building codes and served on a state building code task force, exemplifying how architects can enact meaningful change.

After establishing herself as a sought-after speaker for AIA Minnesota’s annual conferences and other organizations focused on sustainability, Fischer leveraged the relationships she developed across the country to create a Minnesota version of the Materials Matter continuing education series. It quickly became the chapter’s most highly rated offering.

Leading by example, Fischer deftly uses her technical knowledge in service of our planet. The solutions she is engaged in developing will continue to bolster a built environment that promotes the health of all people.


Ann Marie Baranowski, FAIA, Chair, Ann Marie Baranowski Architect PLLC (AMBA), New York

Sarah Broughton, FAIA, Rowland+Broughton Architecture / Urban Design / Interior Design (R+B), Aspen, Colo.

Christian Joosse, AIA, Moody Nolan, Columbus, Ohio

Greg Luhan, FAIA, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Virginia Marquardt, AIA, HMC Architects, Los Angeles

Danielle Tillman, AIA, NOMA, BKL Arch, Chicago

Image credits

Simona Fischer, AIA, CPHC

Veronica McCracken

screencapture of building diagram

MSR Design