courtesy Robert Easter, FAIA

The American Institute of Architects has named Robert Easter, FAIA, the winner of the 2023 AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. Created 50 years ago, the award recognizes "an architect or architectural organization that embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue, such as affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access," according to AIA.

Easter—chair of the architecture department at Hampton University, in Hampton, Va., since 2008 and founder of Richmond, Va.–based Kelso & Easter Architects—is being celebrated for his many diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. From championing a minority lecture series as a graduate student at Virginia Tech to serving as the 15th president of the National Association of Minority Architects to helping connect large firms with historically Black colleges and universities for recruitment, among many other efforts, Easter has worked to advance diversity in the profession for decades.

Hampton University staff/courtesy Robert Easter, FAIA

“Perhaps the most impactful aspect of Mr. Easter, that I appreciate most, is his relentless care and advocation for students and faculty both,” Anthony Rohr, FAIA, wrote in an endorsement of Easter’s nomination. “His passion comes through, and his celebration of student success is contagious. He has given us that ability and grace to talk openly about the challenges facing young students of color and the clear realities of being successful from university to licensure.”

The Whitney M. Young Jr. award is conferred by the AIA Board of Directors and the AIA Strategic Council, with the Institute Honors for Collaborative and Professional Achievement Jury serving as the Advisory Jury for the award. This year's jurors included chair Gianna Pigford, AIA, Stantec, Plano, Texas; Mitchell Ramseur, AIA, M Ramseur & Associates, Raleigh, N.C.; Ricardo J. Maga Rojas, Assoc. AIA, STG Design, Austin, Texas; Mona Hodge, AIA, Smith Gee Studio, Nashville, Tenn.; and Jacqueline Gomez, Hispanic American Construction Industry, Chicago.