Perkins+Will congratulates Leigh Christy, Aimee Eckmann, and Zena Howard for their recent induction into the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows. Every year, a jury meets to assess which AIA members have furthered the practice of architecture and benefited society as a whole. Since the program’s founding in 1952, juries have inducted around 3 percent of the AIA’s total membership.
Perkins+Will’s newest AIA Fellows are:
Leigh Christy, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C
Leigh Christy is an associate principal in Perkins+Will’s Los Angeles office, where she traces the increasingly fine line between urban design and architecture. Christy’s many activities in design and academia illustrate for her colleagues and students how research can inform practice. In tackling regional challenges—revitalizing the Los Angeles River, boosting community representation in transit planning—Christy treats every endeavor as a public-benefit opportunity, one that considers social, ecological, and financial impacts. Her cost-benefit analysis of two police stations helped the City of Los Angeles change its minimum building requirements from LEED Certified to LEED Silver. She is frequently asked by policymakers to help plan for more resilient food systems. Christy leads Perkins+Will’s firmwide Innovation Incubator program, which she co-created, providing dozens of research grants each year to the firm’s staff. She also leads the Los Angeles office’s Social Purpose efforts, a firmwide program offering pro bono architecture and design services to those in need.
Aimee Eckmann, FAIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C
As a principal and the pre-K-12 practice leader in Perkins+Will’s Chicago office, Aimee Eckmann helps sustain the office’s legacy of inclusive and creative facilities for education by changing how teachers teach and students learn. Across the 30 built projects in her twenty-year career, she has developed a participatory, equitable design process based on consensus-building. School district leaders see this approach as instrumental in the passage of bond referendums funding new construction. A natural extension of Eckmann’s work as an architect has been her mentorship of budding designers from low-income households in Chicago. Through the architecture, construction, and engineering industry’s preeminent mentorship group, the ACE Mentor Program of America, she has impacted the lives of hundreds of budding designers—five of whom gave testimonials for her Fellowship application—and raised over $1,300,000 in scholarships. As a thought leader on how schools can strengthen communities, Eckmann is an author and frequent speaker at education-planning conferences.
Zena Howard, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP
Zena Howard is managing director of Perkins+Will’s North Carolina practice, where she is also a principal. She uses the design process to invoke the power of shared experience, creating what she calls “remembrance work.” These projects empower clients and community members to uphold the heritage of displaced people, particularly people of African descent. Such work has reignited connections between populations, addressed age-old social divides, and helped struggling downtowns find new cultural meaning. In Howard’s 30 years in the design world, her list of projects has steadily grown in prominence and complexity. They now include the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Motown Museum Expansion in Detroit, Michigan.
Christy, Eckmann, and Howard—along with the entire Class of 2018—will be honored at the national AIA Conference in New York City in June.