Pat Birch Awarded 2022 Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architectural Excellence in the State of Nebraska

Pat Birch Awarded 2022 Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architectural Excellence in the State of Nebraska

Pat Birch AIA 2022 Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal Recipient

The Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal is the highest honor the Nebraska Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) can bestow and is awarded in recognition of the most distinguished achievement in architecture or service to the profession of architecture in the State of Nebraska.

Pat’s approach to architecture was through the thoughtful use of materials, integration of structure, and a sensitivity to place and context. Most of all, Pat was deeply concerned about the individuals for whom the spaces were designed and, therefore, human wellbeing became the center of her design approach.

Pat’s background

During graduate school, Pat’s talent won her an internship at the internationally known firm of I.M. Pei & Partners in New York City. This experience led to an Associate position at the prestigious firm of Sasaki Associates, Inc in Watertown, Massachusetts. Pat would have certainly advanced her career at Sasaki and her experience would have been in a big city with countless high-profile clients. However, there was a calling for home. Family brought Pat back to Nebraska.

Recently, Pat completed her career with a fifteen-year tenure as Manager of Architecture with The Schemmer Associates. She often said, “I always knew I wanted to make a difference in a place I know and love, with family around me.” Thankfully, we got to be the beneficiaries of her decision to come home, her creative work, mentorship, and leadership.

“Pat’s guidance gave me the direction and confidence to navigate my journey in architecture, especially during my transition from an academic to a professional environment. From welcoming me to my first day at the office to getting lunch and chatting about future endeavors, she never failed to share her excitement, support, and wisdom. I have witnessed her unparalleled dedication, influence, and success as a woman in architecture, all of which inspire my pursuits in the discipline today.”

-Gabby Argamosa, Intern and Graduate Student

Pat’s built work is broad and at varying scales. From a focus on families, as seen in her design of various multi-family projects, to larger public commissions such as the Gere Public Library Expansion and her AIA Award-winning Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center. In Lincoln, the Hewit Place building creates a cultural destination within the city and helps to redefine the edge between UNL’s campus and the city of Lincoln. On a much larger scale, Pat, as the design architect, redefined the west side of UNL’s Memorial Stadium.

“My first real world experience working under an Architect was with Pat Birch and I am forever grateful. Pat took me under her wing at a time where I was still juggling the idea of wanting to be an Architect. She took me everywhere she could, meeting new clients and giving me opportunities and experiences that set me up for total success. I wouldn’t be the Architect I am today without her mentorship, patience, and expertise. She is truly incredible!”

-Meadow Rose Pirigyi, AIA



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