The SOM Foundation has announced five winners of its inaugural scholarship for BIPOC students in design. The Robert L. Wesley Award recognizes the academic achievements and potential of emerging BIPOC designers and is intended to alleviate the high cost of post-secondary design education.
Three fellows—Viridiana Hernandez Sevilla, Temi Osanyintolu, and Daniella Slowik—took home a $10,000 award, while Corey Norman and Kenya Steward were each granted $5,000. In addition to the funding, the five awardees will be mentored by members of the awards jury as well as a broader network of design professionals for one year.
The fellows are pursuing degrees in architecture and landscape architecture at schools across the U.S. Their bios and images of some of their recent projects can be found here.
Back in September 2020, the SOM Foundation announced it had created a new scholarship for BIPOC individuals studying urban design, structural engineering, landscape architecture, or architecture.
The scholarship is named for Robert L. Wesley, SOM’s first Black partner. According to SOM, Wesley joined the Chicago office in 1964 and worked on everything from civic commissions to master plans in the U.S. and five other countries. He was made a partner in 1984 and spent four decades at the firm.
“The naming of this BIPOC academic award is truly an honor, which I must express my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the SOM Foundation.” said Wesley, in a press release that accompanied the initial announcement. “It is my belief that one of the greatest gifts a young person can receive from any authority, organization, or institution, is an education. And this award exemplifies exactly that. Education is one of those indelible rights that keeps our society strong, productive, and empathetic. When used properly, all of society benefits.”
The Robert L. Wesley Award award jury included Leo Chow, a partner at SOM’s San Francisco office; Quilian Riano, associate director at the College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Kent State University; Amanda Williams, an artist based in Chicago, and Wesley himself. SOM Foundation executive director Iker Gil served as jury chair.