The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently selected Urban Design Regional Employment Action for Minorities (UDream) and Sorg Architects as the 2015 honorees of the AIA Diversity Recognition Program. Now in its seventh year, the AIA Diversity Recognition Program recognizes architects, AIA components, educational institutions, and organizations that are actively committed to increasing diversity and inclusion within the architecture profession.

Urban Design Regional Employment Action for Minorities (UDream) is recognized in the Community Involvement category. UDream strives to increase diversity in the profession of urban design nationally, and in the Pittsburgh region specifically, by offering opportunities for permanent employment in Pittsburgh. Recent minority architecture graduates are provided with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of urban planning and design during an 18-week intensive study and work experience. Through a competitive application process, ten participants are selected from across the US. The program begins with a 5-week program of academic courses and studio work with an emphasis on urban sustainability. The academic program is followed by a 12-week internship with an urban design or architecture firm, public agency, or non-profit group engaged in planning and community development. Participants receive full tuition, housing, travel reimbursement and a monthly stipend during the program.

Sorg Architects is recognized in the Inclusive Firm Policies category. Their inclusionary practices flow directly from founder, Suman Sorg, FAIA, through to the firm’s design process and outcomes, company culture, and staff.

The firm actively embraces the spirit of diversity and inclusion at the root of its founding to ensure that a culture of merit and equality permeates their design process and culture. The next generation of senior leadership is inculcated with a focus on finding excellence in people and practice and this message is then conveyed to junior members of the staff on a regular basis. Opportunities for engagement and growth within the firm are valued as methods to attract and retain a diverse team of talented people.

This year’s jurors included Tamarah Begay, AIA, AIA Diversity Council (2012-2014); Brent Castro, Assoc. AIA, 2012-2013 AIAS Vice President; Brenda Devrouax, Founder, The Paul S. Devrouax, Jr. Memorial Lecture; George Manos, Trustee and Founder, the Charter High School for Architecture and Design (CHAD) in Philadelphia; and Beth Tauke, Associate Dean in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo – State University of New York.

The honorees will be celebrated during an awards luncheon on March 6, at the 2015 AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference, in Washington, D.C. Their initiatives will also be featured during an exhibit at the 2015 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta, GA. All 2015 submissions will be available for viewing at the AIA’s Diversity and Inclusion web page in April.

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org.