Society is confronting no shortage of crises, with climate change and housing access among the most critical. But the design community, undaunted, is responding with no shortage of thought-provoking ideas and new technologies, as evidenced by the 90 submissions to ARCHITECT’s 14th annual R+D Awards. Jurors Steve McDowell, FAIA, K.P. Reddy, and Ming Thompson, AIA, evaluated each entry’s potential to have a lasting, positive impact on the built environment and beyond—and its ability to, as Reddy put it, “iterate to something special.”

The resulting seven award winners have room to grow and scale while also “taking on fairly important and ordinary problems that the world is facing, or using data to help make better decisions for humanity,” McDowell says. Despite the challenges we face, Thompson says, “these projects are all hopeful about the future.”


Steve McDowell
Dan Videtich Steve McDowell
K.P. Reddy
courtesy Shadow Ventures K.P. Reddy
Ming Thompson
Alicia Cho Photography Ming Thompson

Steve McDowell, FAIA, is director of design at BNIM, based in Kansas City, Mo. McDowell maintains that good design promotes the health and productivity of people and lifts the human spirit. His work is setting new standards in high performance design with projects such as the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, in Rhinebeck, N.Y; the Pacific Center Campus Development in San Diego, Calif. Under his leadership, BNIM received the AIA Firm Award in 2011.

K.P. Reddy is the CEO and founder of Shadow Ventures, a seed-stage tech investment firm based in Atlanta. An experienced entrepreneur, Reddy is a globally recognized authority in AEC, artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation. He is the author of two books, the most recent of which is What You Know About Startups Is Wrong (Lioncrest Publishing, 2018). Reddy is passionate about launching startups, raising investments, and leading exits.

Ming Thompson, AIA, is co-founder of Atelier Cho Thompson, a bicoastal multidisciplinary practice working between architecture, interiors, graphics, and strategy. A recipient of the AIA Young Architect Award in 2020, Thompson and her firm design beautiful and functional projects around the globe, build community around design, and promote equity within architecture.