About the award
In all that he has accomplished already in his young career, Brien Graham, AIA, has distinguished himself as a true citizen architect dedicated to shaping a more equitable and diverse profession. Graham’s track record is one of positive influence, and he remains devoted to working alongside underrepresented students and communities to increase their access to good design.
Graham grew up in Newark, New Jersey, surrounded by the ills that accompanied the height of the war on drugs. Encouraged by his mother, who worked two jobs to provide him with opportunities, he embraced academics. In seventh grade, he convinced his school’s administration to allow him to take a higher-level architecture history and drafting class. That experience, coupled with Graham’s enduring affection for LEGO, convinced him to become an architect, though he had never previously encountered one.
Today, Graham is a project manager for LPA Design Studios in the firm’s Fort Worth office, where he is a vital liaison with the community who ensures all voices are heard during the design process. Based on the knowledge and experience he has gained as a member of the AIA Leadership Academy, Graham has advanced equity, diversity, and inclusion within the firm, initiating a new education program focused on helping young professionals grow their understanding of leadership and the responsibilities associated with management, design, and technical roles. He also established the firm’s Interdisciplinary Diversity Scholarship, which supports historically underrepresented students who are pursuing careers in the profession. Each year through the program, up to five high school seniors receive $5,000 renewable scholarships.
Graham has brought his engaging leadership to both AIA Dallas and the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), where he currently serves as president. He is a vital connector between the organizations, helping them establish and achieve goals that respond to pressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. He was instrumental in shaping AIA Dallas’ strategic plan in 2021, which established four new core values. His NOMA leadership resulted in a 153% membership increase, and the chapter’s engaged members have established a mentorship and communications network.
A common theme that runs through Graham’s work is the urgent need to support young talent and serve as a role model for young architects who do not see themselves reflected in the profession. Last year, Graham expanded his network as the chair of the Texas Society of Architects’ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. This year, he began serving as the Texas representative to the AIA Strategic Council, where his experiences and talent will shape AIA’s outreach to the next generation of minority architects.