J. Benjamin Vargas, FAIA
Architecture education, professional advocacy
A native of Puerto Rico, Vargas established a presence within AIA, advocating to remedy the lack of diverse participation in the organization and in architecture at large. He has worked to bring more Hispanic and Latino voices into the profession and facilitated numerous professional collaborations across the Caribbean.
“Ben was the dependable and thoughtful originator of concepts and working papers designed to develop and bring into architecture the talents of aspiring Latino and Hispanic architects, and to recognize the practitioners who too often had been unrecognized even within their own firms,” wrote past Whitney Young Award honoree Theodore Landsmark, Assoc. AIA, in Vargas’ nomination letter.
A leader for diversity within AIA, Vargas oversaw the creation of demographic analysis program to better diversify participation in architecture. In 2005, he helped draft the organization’s position statement on diversity, and in 2007 took part on the planning committee for the AIA Diversity Plenary. In 2009, he helped create the AIA Diversity Recognition Program, which highlights architects for contributions to diversifying the profession, was instrumental in the appointment of an AIA Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and has pushed to codify diversity as one of AIA’s primary strategic initiatives.