courtesy Encompass Architects

Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA, co-founder and president of Encompass Architects in Lincoln, Neb., has been named the recipient of the 2018 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. Eagle Bull, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, is the first Native American woman in the U.S. to become a licensed architect, and has been a staunch advocate for the preservation and respectful representation of Native American culture within tribal nation built environments. She received her M.Arch from the University of Minnesota in 1993, and went on to co-found Encompass Architects with her husband, Todd Hesson, AIA, in 2002.

Comprising about 80 percent of her firm’s portfolio, the work she does for Native tribes aims to accurately address the needs of a culture she knows well. “Culture is the main element to consider; whether it is gas station or government building, the tribes always want culture to be a part of it,” Eagle Bull said in a member spotlight interview with the AIA. “A lot of non-Native architects go to tribes and expect them to open up and share everything right off the bat; it’s disrespectful. Knowing how to ask those questions in a respectful way is key.” Eagle Bull is also an executive board secretary at the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers, where she was a key member in negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the National Organization of Minority Architects, allowing the two organizations to work together.

Eagle Bull and her firm have worked on numerous regional projects such as the Gila River Indian Community Governance Center in Sacaton, Ariz., and the Justice Center in Kyle, SD. She has also designed proposals for the Oglala Sioux Tribe for a memorial at the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota—an ongoing project that is currently exploring financing options for its next stages.

Established in 1972, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award is named for the acclaimed head of the National Urban League during the Civil Rights Movement, and is awarded to architects or firms that actively contribute to social change through their work. Last year's winner was the Motor City-based Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), an initiative of the University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Architecture, which has acted as a resource for more than 100 community-centered organizations on a local and national level. The DCDC works together with residents and grassroots groups to make positive decisions for their communities that might otherwise get overlooked.

The 2018 jury comprised Rik Master, FAIA, USG, Woodstock, Ill.; Patrick Burke, FAIA, Columbia University Medical Center, N.Y.; Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, Ayers Saint Gross Architects, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Libby Haslam, AIA, GSBS Architects, Salt Lake City; and R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, TRC Energy Services, Detroit.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.