Established in 1972, the award is named in honor of civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. The AIA explains the award is presented to an individual or organization that "embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue, such as affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access." The AIA announced Sablan as the recipient of the 2021 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award.
As a senior associate for the New York-based firm S9 Architecture, her years of experience as a practicing architect are matched by her commitment to creating platforms where women and architects of color can be recognized and celebrated.
During a year filled with challenges impacting the nation socially, politically, and economically architects and firms were faced with new responsibilities. Organizations like NOMA and the AIA presented programs and initiatives to push professional practice in a direction that builds with and for equity. While the other nominees for the award have shown leadership in social responsibility areas, the AIA highlights Sablan in their award announcement and sheds light on her influential contributions to the industry.
"As an architect and an activist, Pascale Sablan, FAIA, is a champion of women and diverse design professionals. Through documentation, careful curation, and promotion of their work, she has greatly enhanced the profession and broadened social awareness of the built environment. Just the 315th Black woman architect to attain licensure in the United States, Sablan's drive has inspired those around her and spurred the network she has built to advocate for themselves and their communities."
"In this season of strife and unrest—2020, the year of perfect vision—Pascale's sojourn is refreshing and reassuring," wrote William J. Stanley III, FAIA, in a letter supporting Sablan's nomination for the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. "Some people take years to achieve the same level of accomplishments that she has attained in so short a time. Her meteoric rise is a testament to the maximization of her gifts. She is exactly what the late author Lorraine Hansberry meant when we wrote the play book To Be Young, Gifted and Black."
On top of her many accolades, she was recently voted President-Elect of NOMA during this year's 2020 NOMA Conference.
Pascale joins a notable group of architects as this years winner. Past award winners include Gabrielle Bullock (2020), Tamara Eagle Bull (2019), Rural Studio (2015), Sharon Egretta Sutton (2011), Norma Sklarek (2008), NOMA (2007) and many others. The AIA adds that living recipients of the award are "automatically elevated to Fellowship, Honorary Membership, or Honorary Fellowship in the institute, as eligible." To learn more about past award winners click here.
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