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.
As a designer, dedicated mother, wife, and architect who shapes compelling educational environments, Kate Thuesen, AIA, has forged a path that capitalizes on her ability to forge connections. A nexus for both people and ideas, she empowers established communities and catalyzes change in the projects she delivers.
Thuesen is dedicated to developing solutions to complex problems, especially those that concern young people, in a quest to create spaces that connect people to a larger sense of purpose. She has lived and worked on three continents and traveled broadly, finding joy in new relationships across a wide spectrum of cultures. In her work, she endeavors to understand the needs and challenges of the communities she serves.
Since 2007, Thuesen has been a critical member of DLR Group’s staff. Today, she is an owner, architect, and DLR Group’s senior talent strategist, leading the firm’s Emerging Professional Experience. Through the program, which she envisioned as an environment she wished existed when joining the profession, Thuesen educates more than 100 interns and recent graduates annually. The program has greatly increased the visibility of emerging professionals in the firm, and they are now regularly included in project pursuits and other firm-wide initiatives. As an architect, her contributions to the built environment include environments that facilitate invaluable collaboration at numerous Midwestern universities and colleges.
Upon graduating from college, Thuesen felt unprepared to enter the profession and struggled with the shift from academia to a life in business. This experience gave purpose to her work and volunteer roles, including her time as the Young Architects Forum’s (YAF) national director of strategic vision. She is the first woman to hold the role and remains an enthusiastic advocate for all professionals in the early stages of their careers. At YAF, Thuesen has strengthened strategic partnerships with the College of Fellows, the National Organization of Minority Architects, and AIA Strategic Council, creating new opportunities for young architects across the country. She also codified YAF’s relationship with the Large Firm Round Table and serves as the first-ever liaison between the two groups.
Her connection with YAF began earlier when she was selected as the regional director for the Central States region after moving to Des Moines from Kansas in 2012. She assumed that position when her second child was just eight days old and expanded the influence of the Emerging Professional Friendly Firm Award program. She was also instrumental in the development of a university student design competition for the seven architecture schools in her region.
By weaving together professional mastery and strategic activism, Thuesen has greatly enhanced the experiences of emerging professionals. Her important programs and strategies, rooted in empathy and understanding, continue to advance the profession and its most important asset, the people who comprise it.