Louis L. Weller, FAIA
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Civil rights advocacy, community development
Louis Weller, FAIA, founded his eponymous firm in 1980, soon garnering a reputation as the leading Native American-owned firm in the Southwest. Providing design services to more than 30 tribes in 12 western states, Weller Architects specializes in health care, educational buildings, and community facilities. A steadfast activist in support of bettering Native American living conditions, Weller has chaired numerous government committees and business groups on behalf of his goal.
Of Oklahoma Caddo and Cherokee Tribal descent, Weller became the first Native American to enroll in the University of New Mexico’s School of Architecture, graduating in 1959. Coming of age in the politically turbulent 1960s, he sensed a growing desire to empower fellow Native Americans. It was through architecture, he felt, that these communities could find a new, relevant, and uplifting voice.
“The Indian Health Service used to provide the facilities and design for the hospitals and clinics that were scattered around the reservations, and there was no input from the native community as far as their culture in the designs,” Weller commented at the time of the award. As such, Weller Architects would incorporate designs that reflect traditional Native American culture and structures. The Picuris Health Center in Taos, New Mexico—for which Weller won several design awards—provides state-of-the-art health care facilities within a distinctly Pueblo environment.