On May 31, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) named Joan Soranno, FAIA, as the recipient of the 2018 Edward S. Frey Award. Established in 1981 by the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (now known as the AIA Interfaith Design Knowledge Community), the Frey Award "recognizes AIA architects for their contributions to the field of religious architecture," according to the Knowledge Community's webpage. The award program was named in memory of reverend Edward S. Frey, "who inspired architects to foster spiritual values in design and served as the executive director of the Commission on Church Architecture for the Lutheran Church of America."
"I am truly honored to be receiving the 2018 Edward S. Frey Award. I’d like to share this accolade with my partner and husband John Cook, FAIA, whose talent is evident in all of our projects," said Soranno in a statement. "Working with our spiritually-based clients has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our careers and we’re so happy to have had the opportunity to continue HGA’s 50 plus year legacy in religious architecture."
Based in Minneapolis, Soranno is a design principal at HGA. She received her B.Arch. from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and is a member of the U.S. General Services Administration's design excellence program. Soranno is specialized in designing cultural and religious spaces. She is behind the design of many projects, ranging from art centers to mausoleums and chapels, that have received various awards over the years. In 2006, the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities' Bigelow Chapel received an AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture. Another project, Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum, received the same award in 2014, as well as an American Society of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence in 2013. Her other notable projects include the Temple Israel Education Center and Lobby Expansion; the new entry pavilion for Walker Art Center (both located in Minneapolis); and the Marlboro Music Cottages in Vermont.
“Faith-based design should above all else strive to inspire. [Soranno] consistently accomplishes that through her masterful integration of form, material, and light," said jury in a statement. "The results of the thoughtful and intentional design incorporated into her religious works are inspirational. Her work evokes an intuitive sense to pause and contemplate both the meaning of the space and its simple serenity."
This year's jury comprised Michael Janaskie, AIA, principal at Novus Architects in Mount Pleasant, S.C.; Thomas Kerns, FAIA, principal at Falls Church, Va.–based Kerns Group Architects; Stephen Pickard, AIA, principal at GFF's Dallas office; James Theimer, AIA, principal architect and founder of Redding, Calif.–based Trilogy Architecture; and James Williamson, FAIA, professor of architecture at the University of Memphis.
Soranno joins the rank of previous awardees, including Thomas Kerns, FAIA, (2016); James Williamson, FAIA, (2014); George Rafferty, FAIA, (2012); and Edward Anders Sövik (1981).