In L.A., a Forum for Young Designers

Throwing down the gauntlet earlier this month for its second-ever Arch Is competition, the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles is inviting young architects and designers living in California to submit their projects – and engage the profession in a dialog.

“By the time architects are in their mid-‘30s, they’re getting to the point of combining their ideals from school, with real professional experience,” said Li Wen, Gensler design director and co-chair of the competition.  “They’re more mature in their views about architecture, they’ve developed their own points of view, but they’re missing the platform to share their experience.”

Arch Is has been designed to change all that.  It is not limited to accredited architects alone, but is open to design collaborations, design partnerships and designers as well.

Participants must be residents of California and graduates of an accredited architecture school or foreign equivalent within the last five to 12 years.

“The intent is to identify engaging architectural designers, licensed or not,” Li said.  “It’s really about young designers and the cultural definition of architecture versus the professional definition.”

Li and fellow co-chair John Friedman launched the first Arch Is last year, after looking closely at the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects’ Competition.  “We felt we needed to bolster architects in this phase of their professional career,” he said.

Young architects are invited to register by Dec. 17, 2010, and submit their materials by Jan. 10, 2011.  Two winners will be awarded with a public forum for their portfolios, philosophy and perspective on what architecture is, and will also receive a cash prize of $500.  Winners will also be invited to speak at a public AIA/LA awards ceremony and forum event in March 2011.

The jury for the competition includes Neil Denari, AIA; Lisa Iwamoto, AIA; Mia Lehrer, FAIA; and Geoff Manaugh of BLDG BLOG.

The competition yielded 45 entries last year; the co-chairs are aiming for triple digits this year.

For more information, go to

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