Members in the News

Cynthia Weese, FAIA Receives the 2023 AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award

by AIA Chicago | Aug 16, 2023

(August 10, 2023) CHICAGO – AIA Chicago, the second largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the collective voice of over 4,000 licensed architects, emerging professionals, architecture students, and allied professionals, today announced that Cynthia Weese, FAIA, Principal of Weese Langley Weese Architects, will receive the 2023 AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award. Weese will be given the award at Designight 2023 AIA Chicago’s held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago’s Millennium Park on Thursday, September 28, 2023.

“Cynthia has been a trailblazer for women in the field of architecture.” said Mindy Viamontes, AIA, 2023 AIA Chicago President. “Her influence will continue to inspire leaders for generations to come.”

For nearly fifty years, Cynthia Weese has served the architectural profession as a reformer working to advance women in the field, as a design innovator in affordable housing, adaptive reuse and educational facilities, and as an academic visionary. Weese’s life-long fascination with architectural design began as a child in Iowa where three buildings sparked her imagination: Eliel Saarinen’s Art Center in Des Moines, Iowa; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin; and her grandmother’s Craftsman-style home built by her grandfather in Des Moines.

Inspired by these spaces, Weese attended Washington University in St. Louis where she earned a B.S., Architectural Sciences and a B.Arch. After obtaining her degrees, Weese began her career in Chicago where she became a leader in the profession. In 1974, she became a founding member of Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA), the groundbreaking forum advocating for women architects. In 1978, after two major architectural exhibitions in Chicago opened with no women architects represented, she organized the exhibit “Chicago Women Architects: Contemporary Directions” under the aegis of CWA and with support from the Graham Foundation.

Weese’s work in and outside the design studio challenged the status quo. She joined a group of Chicago architectural innovators, known as the Chicago Seven, who supplanted rigid mid-century modernism through their design work and exhibitions. Weese was a founding member and the first woman president of the Chicago Architectural Club, and member, vice president and president of the AIA Chicago board. Between 1993 and 2005, Weese served her alma mater as dean of the School of Architecture, becoming the first woman to serve as dean of a college at Washington University.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is nominated by the AIA Chicago general membership, reviewed by a Committee of Fellows and previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners, and selected by the AIA Chicago Board of Directors.

In awarding the Lifetime Achievement Award, the AIA Chicago Board of Directors noted that Weese is “a true pioneer and vanguard for the profession, city and women architects. Her portfolio, experiences and dedication to the profession is a fantastic example of true leadership. Cynthia has been an unwavering advocate for women in the professions and continues to inspire younger generations.”

Read the full article, including a list of significant project, and information on attending Designight 2023 here

Cynthia Weese, FAIA joined SAH in 1992. She was recognized by SAH in both 2010 and 2018 for architectural excellence at SAH's annual Awards Gala in Chicago. She has served on the SAH Board, the SAH 75th Anniversary Task Force, the Awards Gala Committee, the Budget and Audit Committee, the Development Committee, and the Charnley-Persky House Board.  


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