Clemson University alumnus Stephen Parker has been named a recipient of the Young Architects Award by The American Institute of Architects (AIA). The awards are the highest national honor for young architects, recognizing individuals who have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession early in their careers.

All 18 of the 2018 Young Architects Award recipients will be honored at the AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City this June.

Parker is an architect and planner practicing in the Washington office of SmithGroupJJR, an integrated design, architecture and engineering firm. He is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional specializing in Building Design and Construction (LEED AP BD+C).

Stephen Parker AIA

Stephen Parker is a 2011 graduate of Clemson University, where he earned a B.A. in Architecture.

“Stephen Parker, AIA, is a remarkable young leader, and has been from the day I met him when I was interviewing for my Clemson position, when he was a junior in the undergraduate B.A. in Architecture program,” said Kate Schwennsen, professor and director of the School of Architecture at Clemson University. “He was then and remains a focused, ambitious, energetic and visionary leader, always looking for opportunities to make connections, be a champion, and advance the profession of architecture. He has been particularly effective and visible in his advocacy for emerging and young architects. I have had the pleasure of knowing some exceptional young leaders in our profession, and would put Stephen up there with the best.”

At age 15, Parker began working as an apprentice at a local firm in his hometown of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Parker graduated from Clemson in 2011 with a B.A. in Architecture, cum laude. As chapter president of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), he grew local membership into the triple digits, forged new partnerships and programs, and leveraged the School of Architecture’s strong connections to the profession. He was awarded the Alpha Rho Chi Medal for Leadership, served on the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities Dean’s Council of Students and represented the student body on the College’s dean search committee.

Following his time at Clemson, Parker studied architecture and historic preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park, earning a Master of Architecture and specializing in healthcare design for wounded veterans.

His nomination for the Young Architects Award was based on exemplary work as a mentor, advocate and designer.

“I believe deeply in ‘paying it forward,’” Parker said. “Investing in emerging leaders is paramount, priming the profession for future success.”

As a professional, Parker has remained involved with AIAS, advocating for students, serving on accreditation teams and shaping architectural education. He has also served as a studio critic at Catholic University and a guest critic at the University of Maryland.

Parker was an early champion of the National Design Services Act (NDSA) – legislation that would allow aspiring architects to pay off student loans through design-related community service – and advocated for its passage as co-founder of the AIA’s NDSA Coalition.

Parker is National Advocacy Director for the AIA Young Architects Forum’s Advisory Committee. He contributed the articles “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Design” and “Returning Home: Design Advocacy for Wounded Warrior and Veteran Housing” to the forum’s Connection magazine, appeared in an “Ask an Architect” interview and was featured in the podcast “Advocacy in Architecture with Stephen Parker.”

At SmithGroupJJR, Parker has worked on a wide range of projects, including the expansion and renovation of Assembly Hall at Indiana University and the design guide program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. His research on “Healthcare Design in the Age of A.I.” recently won the Experiential Design Competition from the Institute for Patient-Centered Design.

He and his wife, fellow architect Carrie Lee Parker, live in Arlington, Virginia.

Parker said he hopes to leave a legacy of leadership through service: “I feel blessed to have such tremendous opportunities to serve others, and to advocate through the power of design.”