Announcing the Winners of the Spring 2023 SoA Awards

The Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture is proud to announce the student winners of the Spring 2023 SoA Awards. These awards provide over $47,000 of funding support to undergraduate and graduate students. Awards recognize student work in public interest design, design and representation, sustainability, real estate, and recognize professional promise. Following the ceremony, a reception presented by EPIC Metals was held in the College of Fine Arts Great Hall. Learn more about this spring’s winners below. More information is available on the SoA Awards page.

During the ceremony, we also recognized the winner of the Construction Management Association of America Three Rivers Chapter’s 2022 Presidential Scholarship. Sarah Dunn, President and Dave Onorato, Membership Chair joined us from the chapter to present the $1,000 award to Snehal Avhad, MSAECM '23.

Please join us in congratulating the winners on their tremendous accomplishments, and thanks to all of those who participated! We appreciate the generous support of our donors for making these awards available to our students.

2022-23 SoA Awards Committee: Meredith Marsh (Chair), Joshua Bard, Christi Danner, Omar Khan


EPIC Metals Competition
Third-Year B.Arch Student Award
The EPIC Metals Corporation sponsors the EPIC Metals Competition for third-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) students in the Praxis II Studio to design an innovative project incorporating metal deck systems. Students compete for up to three prizes – first, second, and third place. The first-place team may be invited to tour EPIC Metals’ manufacturing plant in Rankin, PA. The project brief for the 18th annual competition in 2023 was The Packaged Library: A Temporary, Disaster Relief Library and Community Hub.

Spring 2023 Jury: Michael Schuyler, AIA (Manager of Estimating, EPIC Metals Corporation); School of Architecture Praxis II Studio faculty Jeremy Ficca, Gerard Damiani, Vicky Achnani, Katie LaForest

Design Award Diagram

First Place: Graham Murtha, B.Arch ‘25 & Jackie Yu, B.Arch ‘25

Title: Step Binding

Award: $1,800

Jury Comment: Here we have a “modular” project (in both assigned task and resultant design) which manages to avoid banality in form and appearance by incorporating EPIC’s ‘Archdeck-A’ for one of its key organizing and structural components. A thoughtful arrangement of roof elements serves to both facilitate exterior rainwater management as well as contribute to a lively and distinctive interior environment. This holistic scheme earns further distinction by convincingly employing adaptive reuse of the very containers used to transport the structure to the project’s location; exploring a possible site arrangement of these features adds another level of engagement to the project’s use potential and ultimate physical expression.

Second place design award

Second Place: Michael Bi, B.Arch ‘25 & Jason Shao, B.Arch ‘25

Title: Disaster Relief Library

Award: $1,400

Jury Comment: This design demonstrates careful planning in realizing its various programmatic requirements into a compact, yet technically sophisticated temporary structure. This is a strong example of clear construction logic leading to clear spatial organization. The project deserves high marks for an overall pleasing design aesthetic, as well as intuitive assembly dynamics and thoughtful, consistent use of EPIC’s ‘Toris (A)’ floor and roof decking panels

Third place design winner

Third Place: I Lok U, B.Arch ‘25 & Norman Situ, B.Arch ‘25

Title: Hawkers Library

Award: $1,000

Jury Comment: The design demonstrates skillful use of long-span acoustical EPIC roof decking to create roof forms that effectively engage a strategy to enhance the design with natural light. In addition, a useful exterior space is incorporated into the design – a prominent feature of this space is the clever use of moveable EPIC Metals’ ‘Sun Screen’ panels to modulate direct sunlight while adding visual interest to the façade. The theme/project positioning of the hawker stall was a very nice direct use of one's own observations of the built environment and a broader cultural awareness.

Honorable mention design award

Honorable Mention: Brody Ploeger, B.Arch ‘25 & Ashley Su, B.Arch ‘25

Title: GCL: Global Community Library

Award: $600

Jury Comment: It was unanimous amongst all jurors that this design is very skillfully executed. A pleasing, straightforward composition almost deceptively makes simple that which is actually an accomplished holistic integration demonstrating big picture modular logic and unified purpose/program, as well as convincing detail components. One of the more evocative visual representations.


George W. Anderson, Jr. Award
Graduate Student Award
This award recognizes graduate students who demonstrate through their work an exceptional level of attention to detail or dedication to beneficially impacting the community. Award finalists present a Pecha Kucha presentation to fellow students and faculty.

Spring 2023 Jury: Joshua Bard (Chair), Stefan Gruber, Joshua Lee, Vivian Loftness

First place public interest design award

First Place: Suzy Li, PhD-BPD candidate

Title: Adopting Smart Community Surfaces is Critical to Climate Change, Human Health, and Social Equity

Award: $2,500

Jury Comment: Suzy’s project develops a taxonomy of urban surfaces that will reduce urban heat and urban flooding and address long standing inequities in cities. It supports city decision making with GIS interfaces to reveal inequities and opportunities and quantifies the human and environmental benefits of new approaches to urban surfaces. The jury especially appreciated the quality of Suzy’s public presentation – beautifully illustrated and very compelling.

Runner public interest design award

Runner-up: Ariba Asad, MUD ‘23

Title: Choreographing an Informed Return: From Rehabilitation to Recovery

Award: $1,500

Jury Comment: The jury noted that Ariba’s project creates proposals for empowering refugee women to measurably improve the physical conditions for living in flood-prone Pakistan, with compelling and visually wonderful solutions. The work is robustly researched and the conceptual design manual is culturally appropriate and cost reasonable.

runner up public interest design

Runners-up: Rachel Ruscigno, M.Arch ‘24 & Autumn Dsouza, M.Arch ‘24

Title: Regenerative Assemblages: A Soil Remediation Network

Award: $1,500

Jury Comment: The jury noted that Rachel and Autumn’s project transforms a community through environmental innovation, developing a cottage industry of soil remediation to elevate brownfields to productive greenfields and empower low income neighborhoods as leaders. The work is thoroughly designed and creatively illustrated. It's also refreshing to see a phased timeline, of 45 years(!), for a studio project.

Runner Up Public Interest Design Award

Runners-up: Aditi Shreedhar, MUD ‘24 & Aniket Surve, MUD ‘24

Title: FOOD for THOUGHT: A Community Service Hub for South Oakland

Award: $1,500

Jury Comment: Aditi and Aniket’s project transforms an underutilized field in South Oakland into a community catalyst for food production, environmental learning, and play. The work illustrates a high level of attention to detail through site analysis, precedents, community financing, and a 20 year development timeline.


David Lewis Community Engagement Design Scholarship
Student Award
This award provides financial support to students who demonstrate a commitment to working within diverse communities through participatory architectural design processes and who demonstrate commitments to social justice and community service. 

Spring 2023 Jury: Stefan Gruber (Chair), Sarosh Anklesaria, Stefani Danes, Jackie McFarland, Christine Mondor, An Lewis

David Lewis Community Engagement Design Scholarship student award

Winner: Priyanka Thakur, M.Arch ‘24

Title: Engaging Voices

Award: $2,500

Jury Comment: The jury recognized Priyanka’s sustained commitment to co-designing and hands-on construction of school and library projects in marginalized tribal communities. The jury was impressed by the combination of simplicity and beauty that arises from Priyanka’s work with communities. The jury hopes the scholarship will encourage Priyanka to continue seeking a sense of place and building community through architecture where resources do not abound.


Stewart L. Brown Memorial Scholarship
Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award
This award recognizes professional promise in terms of attitudes and scholastic achievement. Applicants submit a design portfolio and a statement articulating their interest in professional practice. A jury convened by the Pittsburgh AIA reviews the portfolios, interviews finalists, and selects the awardee. 

Spring 2023 Jury: Pittsburgh AIA Chapter leadership: John Ryan, President; Bea Spolidoro, Immediate Past President; Sean Sheffler, 1st Vice President


Winner: Sharon Fung, B.Arch ‘24

Award: $10,000

Jury Comment: Sharon is an impressive emerging professional. Her passion for architecture was evident through her portfolio, academic record, previous professional experience and commitment to service to both the community and the profession, and even more during the (early morning!) interview. The interview, in particular, confirmed the Jurors' sentiment that she is the best candidate for the 2023 Award. Her infectious energy and drive is a strong reminder for established architects that we must create Architecture with the capital A every day. Architects, as Sharon suggests, should mentor, guide, and inspire the communities around them. At the same time, Architects should welcome community feedback and embrace the journey, welcoming design iterations until the right solution is achieved.


John Knox Shear Award
Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award
This award is the highest honor granted to a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Architecture program. The award recognizes exceptional design and representation as demonstrated through studio work.

Spring 2023 Jury: Dana Cupkova (Chair), Zaid Kashef Alghata, Gerard Damiani, Laura Garófalo, Eddy Man Kim

Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award

Winner: Yonghao Zhang, B.Arch '24

Award: $7,000

Jury Comment: The work is beautifully presented and shows design excellence at its core. It incorporates architectural representation as foundational to the studio design process across scales.

Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award

Winner: Sharon Fung, B.Arch '24

Award: $7,000

Jury Comment: Sharon's work shows a mature balance of technical and spatial competency, and attention to detail through the design studio work she has produced.


Payette Prize in Building Science
Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award
This award recognizes the accomplishments of a B.Arch student who has achieved exceptional performance by integrating the fundamentals of building science in their design work.

Spring 2023 Jury: Omar Khan (Chair), Nina Baird, Vivian Loftness, Azadeh Sawyer

Payette Prize in Building Science

Winner: Colin Walters, B.Arch '24

Award: $4,500 

Jury Comment: Colin Walters’ project Addition to City View Apartments in the Lower Hill District of Pittsburgh, developed in collaboration with project members Brian Hartman and Kit Tang, most clearly demonstrates the use of building science explorations coupled with user experience of the spaces to achieve a design resolution. The concerns of building performance coupled with the aesthetic experience are well considered.


Deller Prize in Sustainable Architecture and Real Estate
Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award
This award encourages architecture students to pursue non-traditional career paths, specifically to grow their skills in the specialty of design, construction, and sustainability under the umbrella of the real estate business.

Spring 2023 Jury: Omar Khan (Chair), Tamara Dudukovich, Hal Hayes, Valentina Vavasis

Deller Prize in Sustainable Architecture and Real Estate Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award

Winner: Gabrielle Benson, B.Arch '24

Award: $2,250

Jury Comment: Gabrielle Benson demonstrates a strong commitment to sustainable design that includes doing a minor in Environmental Studies at Dietrich College. Her project submission, an extension wing to City View Apartments in the Lower Hill District of Pittsburgh, done in collaboration with Sharon Fung and Sarah Kwok for the Praxis 3 studio, shows good integration of real estate concepts, sustainability, and structural design. 

Deller Prize in Sustainable Architecture and Real Estate Fourth-Year B.Arch Student Award

Winner: Anishwar Tirupathur, B.Arch '24

Award: $2,250

Jury Comment: Anishwar Tirupathur’s project for a Farmer’s Market for Hazelwood Green, developed in collaboration with project members Athan Chang and Emma Nilson, takes the position that a strong community focused project is an important ingredient for developing a sustainable design. The project also utilizes low carbon materials and minimal surface gridshell to develop an exciting large span structure. 


Master of Architecture (M.Arch) Travel Awards
The Master of Architecture program grants travel awards each spring for selected students who have submitted a travel proposal and project plan. The 2023 recipients are listed below.

Master of Architecture (M.Arch) Travel Awards

Emma Cafiero, Berlin, Germany: Defining and Developing Cities of Asylum to Inform Social Change

Ajay Chovatia, France (Paris, St. Nazaire, Trignac, Bordeaux): “Never Demolish, Always Transform”: Studying the Housing Projects of Lacaton and Vassal

Colin Cusimano, Italy (Bologna, Pesaro, Urbino): Place, Everyday Life, and Architecture’s Agency: Drawing the Social Space of Giancarlo de Carlo

Rovina George, Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kochi): Crafting Architecture: Tracing encounters between tradition and modernity in Japanese Timber Construction

Joshua Jordan, London, England: Public Housing In London

Priyanka Thakur, Colombia (various sites): Learning from Bamboo tectonics developed by Architect Simon Velez in the context of Colombia

Shayla Thomas, Barcelona, Spain: International Housing Festival (ISHF)

Thomas Vite, Switzerland (Zurich, Basel): Investigating Materiality and Meaning Through the Works of Herzog and de Meuron