R. Steven Lewis, FAIA
Professional advocacy, architecture education
The AIA Board of Directors selected R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, for the Whitney Young Award in recognition of his advocacy for social justice and diversity within architecture, where less than two percent of the nation’s licensed architects are African American and less than three-tenths of one percent are black women.
The son of an architect who practiced during the Civil Rights era, Lewis witnessed firsthand the challenges that faced black architects working in what he described as a “white gentlemen’s profession.” His career has been dedicated to helping people of color enter and navigate the profession as it evolves to be more inclusive than even a generation ago, and to documenting the stories of those who have fought to make it so.
After cofounding and leading the Los Angeles-based RAW International in 1984, Lewis now works an urban design director for the City of Detroit. He has served as president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)—editing its magazine and profiling pioneering African American architects—during which time he played a key role in forging a committed partnership between NOMA and AIA. After completing a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Lewis organized a symposium exploring architecture’s deep-seated structural inequalities.