Apr 19th 2024

Alumni Among Top Young Architects in the Country

Two outstanding Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture alumni are officially among the top up-and-coming architects in the country, joining a prestigious national group of honorees.

Ryan Gann (B.ARCH. ’14) and Richie Hands (M.ARCH. ’15) were both recipients of the 2024 Young Architects Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the nation’s preeminent architectural association. The honor is presented to AIA members “in the early stage of their career who have shown exceptional leadership in design, planning, education, and service to the profession,” according to the AIA.

Earning recognition for his work is cherished, Gann says, and being selected by fellow AIA members makes it a standout achievement. “To be recognized by a jury of my peers as someone who has made significant contributions to the profession is truly humbling,” Gann says.

The two alumni follow in the footsteps of other College of Architecture community members who won the young architects award in the past, including Associate Professor Jennifer Park and Alzira Maldonado Protsishin (M.A.S. ARCH ’14).

Gann and Hands were heavily involved in the American Institute of Architects student chapter (AIAS) while at the College of Architecture, and that investment has continued at the AIA Chicago and national levels. Both alumni are now giving back to the architectural community in their own ways while leading astonishing careers.

Gann worked at Ross Barney Architects, founded by College of Architecture faculty member Carol Ross Barney, for seven years before becoming an independent consultant and shifting focus to a leadership role in AIA, the world’s largest design organization. He is now a candidate for 2026 AIA president.

“To be at the table helping shape the future of a profession is thrilling. Architects have a unique skill set to discern and synthesize. The challenges of today, and beyond the horizon, require that skill set now more than ever,” Gann says.

Hands co-leads a studio at Lamar Johnson Collaborative while serving the minority architecture community. He is an established leader in AIA Chicago while being the national chair for the National Organization of Minority Architects’ Project Pipeline, a summer camp meant to spark interest in architecture from within minority communities. “It is an honor to be recognized for my time mentoring and advocating for the next generation of architects and designers. It’s genuinely the thing I enjoy most about my career to this point,” Hands says.

The AIA award jury celebrates Hands’ outreach. “A tireless advocate for the next generation of architects, Hands has led some of the most impactful programs that support underrepresented young people pursuing careers in architecture. Already, he has proven himself an exceptional leader through his commitment to diversify and advance the profession,” the AIA said.