The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIA/CC) has announced this year’s picks for the prestigious Distinguished Practice and Lifetime Achievement awards. The organization named Santa Monica-based Michael W. Folonis, FAIA for the former award and Betsey Dougherty, FAIA and Brian Dougherty, FAIA of the California-based firm Dougherty, and Beverly Willis, FAIA, architect and founder of the Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation (BWAF), for the latter honor.
The selection of Betsey Dougherty and Brian Dougherty marks the first time in the history of the award that a pair of firm principals has been given the Lifetime Achievement Award simultaneously.
Michael W. Folonis Architects’ 1415 5th Street project in Santa Monica takes an innovative approach to zoning and height requirements. (Courtesy Michael W. Folonis Architects)
Folonis began his eponymous practice in 1983 and has worked in Santa Monica as well as across Los Angeles as an advocate for design excellence, both as a practitioner and educator. Among other designations, Folonis has served as a member and chair at the Santa Monica Architectural Review Board and has sat on the Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Board. His firm is currently working on a series of innovative multi-family housing complexes in Santa Monica, including an 84-foot tall donut-shaped apartment complex called 1415 5th Street. That project takes an innovative approach to the city’s setback requirements by removing building mass at the center of the structure in order to gain more height, creating an interior courtyard in the process.
Firm partners Betsey Dougherty, FAIA and Brian Dougherty, FAIA, of Dougherty have over 80 years’ worth of experience between them, with Brian acting a founding member of the California Collaborative for High Performance Schools and Betsey being one of the first “actively involved women in the AIA Orange County chapter,” as stated in a press release marking the honors. The pair—who helms a wide-ranging practice with offices in Oakland and Costa Mesa, California—have been active AIA members since the 1970s and serve on a variety of professional organizations; Betsey sits on the California Architects Board (CAB) licensure board and the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.
Dedicated architect philanthropist Beverly Willis—who started the BWAF in 2002 in an effort to “expand knowledge about women’s contributions to twentieth-century American architecture by uncovering their lost histories and restoring them to the historical record” while also highlighting professional issues relating specifically to women in the architectural field—was described by the jury as “an amazing woman. Her focus on service as well as design is unsurpassed.”
According to the AIA/CC’s press release, the awards jury voted unanimously for Betsey, Brian, and Willis, calling the architects “passionate and exemplary pioneers within the AIA,” adding, “their contributions should be recognized at the highest level possible.”