Mithun's design team
Jenny Jimenez Mithun's design team

This afternoon, The American Institute of Architects named the Mithun the winner of its 2023 Architecture Firm Award, the organization's highest honor for a firm that has "produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years," according to an AIA description. Founded in 1949 by the late architect and educator Omer Mithun, a Norwegian immigrant to the United States, the Seattle-headquartered firm has offices in both San Francisco and Los Angeles and a staff of 180 individuals. In 2001, ARCHITECT recognized the firm with a Top Firm Leadership Award.

In the more than seven decades since its founding, the integrated design firm—which was an early adopter of the AIA 2030 Commitment—has led the profession in sustainable design practices and "remains committed to addressing today’s critical challenges," states an AIA press release announcing the win. "In doing so, Mithun carefully balances three crucial outcomes of a successful modern architecture practice: beautiful design, an eager embrace of sustainability leadership, and commitment to the social contract."

Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans, by Mithun and Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment
Kevin Scott Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans, by Mithun and Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment

In its portfolio of completed projects, Mithun boasts seven AIA COTE Top Ten Award-winners including the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans, designed with Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment (2022); Chatham University Eden Hall in Richland Township , Pa. (2017); and the Sustainability Treehouse in Glen Jean, W.V. (2014). Some of the firm's other celebrated work includes 1180 Fourth Street in San Francisco; University of California, Irvine Mesa Court Towers in Irvine, Calif.; University of Washington Lander Hall in Seattle; and the National Nordic Museum in Seattle.

Wanapum Heritage Center in Mattawa, Wash.
Benjamin Benschneider Wanapum Heritage Center in Mattawa, Wash.

“Today, architectural excellence is achieved when an inspiring building is designed beyond its property lines to serve the clients’ needs, the values of its community, and the vital needs of our planet, our only home,” wrote William Leddy, FAIA, in a letter supporting Mithun’s nomination for the Architecture Firm Award. “I can think of no architecture firm that better exemplifies this vision of a values-based, mission‐driven practice than Mithun.”

Mithun, which merged with Culver City, Calif.–based Hodgetts + Fung in 2019, also remains committed to the process of mentorship and community engagement, evident in the firm's coLAB initiative aimed at embracing the approaches of both junior and senior design professionals.

“Mithun is not pretentious; they’ve built a firm and nurtured a group of established, highly professional, and emerging practitioners who are diligently doing the work so that they can share their aspirations and, more importantly, their results,” wrote Edward Mazria, FAIA, recipient of the 2021 AIA Gold Medal, in a letter supporting the firm’s nomination for the Architecture Firm Award. “This makes them exemplary leaders in our profession and in the built environment community writ large.”

The winner of the 2023 Architecture Firm Award was chosen by the AIA Board of Directors and the AIA Strategic Council from a shortlist of three finalists selected by a jury comprising chair Nathaniel Hudson, AIA, FormGrey Studio in Reno, Nev.; Joseph Benjamin, AIA, Lake | Flato, San Antonio; Arathi P. Gowda, AIA, ZGF Architects in Washington, D.C.; Anne Hicks Harney, FAIA, Long Green Specs in Manasquan, N.J.; Jaime Torres Carmona, AIA, Canopy/architecture + design in Chicago; Andrew Tyley, RIAI, RSHP formerly Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in London; and Melodie Yashar, ICON in Austin, Texas.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.