AIA Iowa award recipients announced in virtual celebration

Four Iowans, including two from the Corridor, were recognized at the American Institute of Architects Iowa Chapter’s (AIA Iowa) annual awards celebration held virtually Sept. 29.

Architects and members of AIA Iowa gathered to honor the AIA Iowa Young Architect, Educator, Medal of Honor, and Honorary Membership Award recipients, as well as the AIA Iowa Excellence Design Awards and the AIA Iowa Excellence in Craft Awards. These awards recognize those with distinguished service to the profession of architecture and emphasize architecture and its importance across the state of Iowa, according to a news release.

The Awards Celebration was held in conjunction with the 2022 AIA Iowa Convention, “ADVOCATE,” held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines Sept. 29-30.


The Medal of honor Award is to be considered the highest honor AIA Iowa can bestow on its members. It shall be awarded to those who have dedicated a significant portion of their career in service to the profession of architecture and played a role in shaping the profession as well as the Chapter. The 2022 recipient of the AIA Iowa Medal of Honor is Channing Swanson, AIA of Neumann Monson Architects, which has offices in Iowa City and Des Moines.

“Channing’s career has served the profession and shaped our chapter,” said Timothy Schroeder, AIA, President at Neumann Monson Architects.” For thirty years he has been a passionate advocate for sustainable design excellence, and his contributions have shaped expectations and perceptions in Iowa and far beyond our borders.

“As an advocate for design excellence, Channing served our profession as a guest critic at Iowa State University for 25 years, as board member and editor of IA Architect magazine for 12 years, and (for the past five years) as a speaker promoting Iowa architecture to regional and national audiences. As a designer and firm leader, Channing elevated expectations of Iowa’s architecture within multiple Iowa firms, across Iowa, across the country, and beyond. At Neumann Monson, he has led by example and challenged us to raise our expectations for design excellence firmwide. Over the past decade, his design authorship has earned 23 state, regional, and national AIA recognitions, including a 2021 AIA COTE Top Ten Award. Channing’s service to the profession, his meritorious career, his influence on Iowa architecture and his influence on the next generation of architects all warrant recognition with the AIA Iowa Medal of Honor.”


The AIA Iowa Honorary Membership Awards recognizes a person of esteemed character who is otherwise ineligible for membership in the Institute or the Chapter but who has rendered distinguished service to the profession of architecture, or to the arts and sciences allied within the domain of the Chapter. The 2022 recipient of the AIA Iowa Honorary Membership is Cindi Michelsen, Hon. AIA of RDG Planning & Design, which has Iowa offices in Des Moines, Dubuque and Iowa City.

“Cindi is a person of esteemed character and has demonstrated a commitment to not only the excellence of ROG where she has devoted her career, but to the profession of architecture in Iowa as well,” said Kevin Nordmeyer, AIA, Principal of BNIM Architects. “Cindi has led marketing and business development for ROG for many years after serving as a draftsperson early in her career. I along with many others have collaborated with Cindi in many business development and public relations projects. Through these efforts, Cindi has elevated the work of ROG and the architectural profession in general. Her work over her career has promoted and communicated the transformative value of architecture.”


The AIA Iowa Young Architect Award recognizes an individual who has shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession in the areas of design, education, and/or service in an early stage of their architectural career. The 2022 recipient is Leah Rudolphi, AIA of substance architecture in Des Moines.

“Few architects of any age display the commitment to design quality and attention to detail that Leah models every day, said Paul Mankins, FAIA, Founder and Consulting Principal at substance. “She has the unique ability to frame the generative logic that underpins our best design work and then advance the details that support that logic. This ability is both rare and essential to creating work that is meaningful and endures.

“Leah joined substance architecture in 2010 after a stellar academic career at Iowa State University and professional experience with both Foster and Partners in London, England and Allied Works Architecture in Portland, Oregon. She has contributed to projects ranging from the National AIA IFFRA Faith and Form Award-winning Tiffereth Israel Synagogue to the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center at the University of Iowa, which was recognized with a Central States Regional AIA Award in 2016.

“While the scale of these projects varies dramatically, they share a clarity and focus. Both buildings directly and elegantly solve their functional requirements while simultaneously communicating their client’s greater aspirations. Leah’s ability to move beyond the building program to discover the larger possibilities has been key to these project’s success. She understands the transformative power of architecture to impact the environment and communicate shared values.”


The AIA Iowa Educator Awards Recognizes a person of esteemed character who has rendered distinguished service to the profession of architecture or to the arts and science within the territory of AIA Iowa. The 2022 recipient of the AIA Iowa Educator Award is Shelby Doyle, AIA of Iowa State University.

“Shelby has taught studios and fabrication courses that are sought after — rabidly — by our students,” said Thomas Leslie, FAIA, Morrill Professor in Architecture. “She is the classic ‘tough but fair’ teacher who inspires innovative, probing work by students from diverse backgrounds and with widely varying interests. Her courses are always oversubscribed, she has mentored undergraduates into the country’s top graduate programs and design offices, and she has consistently outstanding course evaluations.

“Students understand both the importance of the work her classes demand and her ability to coach them through challenging subject matter to learn not only the techniques of digital fabrication, but also the craft that successful engagement with these techniques requires. Her interdisciplinary work has broadened not only her coursework but the entire field of digital fabrication, finding new avenues for robotics and 3D printing in ceramics and weaving, among others, that promises rich and provocative new paths for the field.”

AIA also regularly recognizes projects for design and sustainability excellence, including a pair of awards to Neumann Monson Architects in 2021 and an Impact Award of Merit to OPN Architects for the Harris Public Health Building, also in 2021.