CWA and CWAF Honor Diane Legge, Jackie Koo and Ingedia Sanchez for Advancing Women in Architecture
April 6, 2022

CWA and CWAF Honor Margaret Zirkel Young, Alicia Ponce, and Tiara Hughes for their critical role in Advancing and Championing Women in Architecture

Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA) and the Foundation (CWAF) will honor three Chicago architects for their contributions to each organization and to the architectural profession at their annual Spring Brunch this April.

Today, Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA), and Chicago Women in Architecture Foundation (CWAF), are honored to announce the recipients of the 2023 CWAF Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2023 Breaking Glass Award, and the 2023 Making Waves Award. Each program honors Chicago architects at different stages in their careers who have played pivotal roles in advancing women in the profession through resolute leadership, mentorship, design excellence, and advocacy.

“Margaret, Alicia and Tiara are 3 remarkable women that made significant contributions to the profession of Architecture and we are grateful for their work to date. Architecture is a profession that allows us to continue to inspire others even as we reach the distinguished Lifetime Achievement award,” says CWAF Board Chair Grace Rappe, AIA. “We hope these awards thank them in a way that continues to inspire them to inspire others through their work. Please join us at the Spring Brunch to honor them.”

Established in 2017, the CWAF Lifetime Achievement Award honors distinguished architects who have profoundly impacted the profession, positively contributed as members of CWA, and have supported issues faced by women architects throughout their careers. This year, the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Awardee is Margaret Zirkel Young, AIA, NCARB, IFMA, CWA an architect and real estate broker, with over 40 years of experience.

From 1960-1963, Young trained at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier Undergraduate Campus and the Illinois School of Real Estate Appraising in Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in 1966, becoming a licensed architect in 1971. Young attended the Real Estate Education Co. School in Chicago from 1981-1982, becoming a Registered Real Estate Broker in the State of Illinois in 1982.

1977 AIA Presentation of “The Illinois Council of the AIA State Service Award” to Alyce Knight (left), Margaret Zirkel Young (middle), Betty Ritter (right), and Celia Pew (not pictured)

In 1974, Young became a founding member of Chicago Women in Architecture and participated in the 1978 CWA Traveling Exhibition which promoted the work of women Architects in the Chicago Area. Young also worked to promote the profession of architecture by partnering with architects Betty J. Ritter, Alyce Knight, and Celia Pew to create the Triton College sponsored video, “Shadows on the Landscape,” a 34-minute video to stimulate the interest of high school students in architecture as a profession. All four women received an AIA Service State Award in 1977 for their work on the film.

(Young on the lower deck of River Plaza (1976). Image courtesy of Landmarks Illinois.)

Young trained in both a Real Estate Appraiser’s and a Landscape Architect’s office before working on-site as a project architect at Ezra Gordon-Jack M. Levin & Associates, Architects from 1969 through 1986. During her time there, she worked on numerous Chicago Area residential high-rise projects. The most notable of which include Newberry Plaza, at 1000 North State Street, River Plaza, at 405 North Wabash Avenue, and 400 East Ohio Street. In 1986 Young joined the Executive Management Team of Arthur Anderson & Co. and Accenture LLP as the in house Design and Construction Project Manager, retiring in 2002.

The Breaking Glass Award honors established architects who are changing the face of the profession through their achievements and design excellence. The 2023 Breaking Glass Awardee is Alicia Ponce, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP the Founder and Principal of APMonarch, a Chicago based Latina owned Architecture firm.

Under Ponce’s direction, the firm provides architectural services, sustainability consulting and community engagement for projects throughout the Midwest and Mexico. Her expertise and passion to design healthy buildings and equitable communities creates architecture that is ambitious, thoughtful,and healthy. APMonarch provides these services to diverse sectors including Commercial, Higher-Education, Civic, Healthcare, and Retail.

Ponce refers to APMonarch as the pollinator of the built environment designing healthy environments that look good, feel good and perform great. The firm’s promise is to build zero carbon architecture. Demonstrating that promise is Ponce’s recent architecture commission to design Centro Amazing, a civic center located in Aguascalientes, Mexico which is to be constructed from rammed earth.

A registered architect in Illinois and Wisconsin, Ponce has over 25 years of architecture and sustainability experience and is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In 2020, she founded Arquitina, a national 501(c)3 organization with a mission to raise the 1% of licensed Latina architects in the U.S. She is the creator of the award-winning book Latinas in Architecture. In 2022, Ponce received the Landmarks Illinois Influencer award and the Maestro Leader Award. She is a Commissioner with Chicago Landmarks and is a Board Member for United Way Metro Chicago.

The Making Waves Award recognizes early-career architects who have had an impact through an innovative project or initiative. The 2023 Making Waves Awardee is Tiara Hughes, Associate AIA, NOMA, Realtor , Senior Urban Designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Commissioner with the City of Chicago Landmarks Commission, and founder of FIRST 500, a global platform dedicated to elevating and celebrating Black Women Architects. As the founder and executive director of FIRST 500, Hughes raises awareness of the importance of Black Women Architects throughout history and their contribution to the built environment.

As a devoted activist, educator and advocate for underrepresented communities and voices, she recently served on the Board for the National Organization of Minority Architects and currently serves on the Charnley-Persky House Board of Directors for the Society of Architectural Historians.

As a designer, Hughes creates work that emphasizes greater socioeconomic equity and cultural awareness. She believes “Ultimately our efforts to positively impact communities of color will expand outward and evolve our academic institutions, our firms, our industry and by extension, our communities.” In 2021, Hughes received the prestigious national AIA Associates Award and in 2022, she received Landmark Illinois’ Influencer award for her progressive and inclusive efforts to preserve the built environment and equitably advance the design industry. Most recently, she has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni from her alma mater Drury University.

“Each of this year’s awardees have worked to support and advance women in architecture not only as role models, but also through the founding of organizations dedicated to creating a more equitable profession,” says CWA President Elizabeth Schneider. “The work that these three women continue to do embodies CWA’s mission and by honoring their work, we hope to show our support for the shared goal of uplifting women in architecture.”

Awardees will be honored at CWA and CWAF’s Annual Spring Brunch, which will be held on Sunday, April 23rd. The Lifetime Achievement Award recipient will provide a keynote presentation, and separate programs in the summer will showcase the work of the other honorees. Information regarding the event, ticketing and sponsorship opportunities can be found at Proceeds from the Spring Brunch will support CWA membership events and related programming.

CWA Annual Spring Brunch
Sunday, April 23rd, 2023
10 am – 2pm CDT
RPM Events, 317 N Clark Chicago

About CWA and CWAF
CWA is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit membership organization founded in 1974 to establish community, mentorship, visibility, and advocacy for women working in the field of architecture and related professions. Through the ongoing efforts of the entirely volunteer-led organization, this mission is realized by offering educational, professional, and social networking events; organizing and sponsoring lectures in partnership with like-minded organizations; and awarding annual scholarships to undergraduate women architecture students in their final year of study.

In 2003, CWAF was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation. Today, CWAF continues its support of CWA initiatives by raising funds to expand scholarship offerings as well as fundraising for events and special projects that further the careers of women in and around the field of architecture.

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