Clemson alumni receive AIA Young Architects awards
Clemson University alumni Asheley Scott St. John and Benjamin Ward have been named 2019 recipients 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.
“Asheley and Benjamin are remarkable young professionals,” said Kate Schwennsen, professor and director of the School of Architecture at Clemson. “Both have achieved much in a short time. They have provided significant leadership to the profession and to their communities. They are both role models and mentors, making the way for emerging professionals. And they are both respected, innovative practitioners and firm leaders.”
All 22 of the 2019 Young Architects Award recipients were honored at the AIA Conference on Architecture in Las Vegas in June. Clemson alumnus Paul Steelman, a noted designer of global entertainment, hospitality and gaming architecture, hosted a separate reception at the conference for the Clemson School of Architecture and the Clemson Architectural Foundation at the headquarters of Steelman Partners LLP. Co-hosting the reception was Steelman’s daughter, Suzanne Steelman Taylor, vice president of Steelman Partners.
Asheley Scott St. John, AIA
St. John was in Santa Clara, California, to watch the Clemson Tigers compete in the college football national championship when she learned she had received the AIA’s prestigious Young Architects Award.
“I am proud and shocked and honored,” said St. John, who graduated from Clemson in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Design and earned her Master of Architecture in 2005 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. “I’m humbled by it, most of all – humbled by those around me who were willing to help me and teach me and support me on this journey.”
St. John launched her firm, 1×1 Design, in 2011, becoming the first and youngest woman to open an architectural business in Columbia, South Carolina.
Her full-service architectural firm now has a staff of six. Three of St. John’s employees are Clemson School of Architecture graduates: Seth Barnett (’15), Yarely Martinez (’18) and Kylie Walker (’19). A fourth employee, Christian Bravo, is expected to graduate from the School of Architecture in December.
“I was fortunate to have gained some incredible mentors literally the day I stepped into the profession,” St. John said. “I believe it is our privilege as professionals to contribute to the future success of students and emerging architects.”
St. John’s firm oversees a wide variety of award-winning projects, from residential renovations to higher education and airports.
St. John has maintained close ties with Clemson, particularly through the Clemson Architectural Foundation (CAF), which supports the School of Architecture through fundraising and volunteer efforts. St. John served as president of the foundation from 2017-19. Under her leadership, CAF recorded its largest fundraising year and added to its surplus fund.
“When asked to consider becoming a trustee, I couldn’t think of a better way to give back to both Clemson and the profession,” St. John said. “The foundation helped support my study abroad semester in 2001, which catapulted my architectural education and growth. The foundation provides solutions for the School that fill gaps and allow the students and faculty options for even further success.”
St. John lives in downtown Columbia with her husband and daughter, and is active in the community. She has taken leadership roles with the AIA Greater Columbia Section, the Columbia Museum of Art, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School and the Columbia Development Corporation. She was selected to participate in the Leadership Columbia Class of 2009.
Benjamin Ward, AIA
Ward is a project manager at Grace Hebert Curtis Architects (GHC) in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, which focuses exclusively on the health-care sector.
“I am truly honored to receive a Young Architects Award and thank the AIA for making recognition of young architects a priority and supporting our growth at all stages of our careers,” he said.
Ward has developed a strong relationship with the firm’s largest client, Tidelands Health, and has helped secure more than $200 million in new construction and renovation projects. Ward has led multiple other projects from conception to completion.
Ward has encouraged mentoring initiatives at GHC and has urged the firm to hire Clemson students as summer interns. “This has been a very rewarding experience for our firm and gives Clemson students the real-world knowledge that makes them even better design students,” he said.
After joining AIA Grand Strand as director of its Young Architects Forum/Emerging Professionals, he later became vice president and, since 2012, president. He has reorganized the board’s structure to fulfill its mission of advocacy and community service. Traditional lunch-and-learn events have become all-day credit events. He has also overseen such community activities as LEGO build days, Kids in Architecture events at the Children’s Museum of South Carolina and legislative breakfasts with elected officials.
From 2016-17, Ward served as Young Architects director for the AIA South Atlantic Region. He worked with colleagues to host workshops at its 2016 conference and helped secure a grant for the first AIA South Carolina Leadership Development Academy.
Ward credits Clemson with providing him “an incredible foundation for success.” He lives on Pawleys Island with his wife, Johanna, their 11-month-old son, Jackson, and a bluetick coonhound named Goose.