The practice of architecture can sometimes be about creating a legacy — either in portfolio or firm culture or contribution to society within other categories. The AIACC Council Awards Program celebrates these attributes with the Council Awards Program. This year’s recipients were announced at the Feb. 10 Board of Directors meeting in Los Angeles, and are now part of the esteemed list of award-winning architects

This year’s Distinguished Practice Award was received by Michael W. Folonis, FAIA. The Distinguished Practice Award recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments toward a specific building type or practice area and a career of dedicated commitment to the built environment. This award recognizes an individual architect’s work, their responses to the challenges of an individual building type, innovations within the design and construction process, design excellence, and a collaborative spirit.

Michael Folonis, FAIA, has led a distinguished practice in architecture since founding his namesake firm in 1983. Over the course of his still thriving career, Folonis made a name for himself as a leader in responding to the challenges of an individual building type, an educator and mentor to other professionals, an advocate for design excellence, and a collaborator within the design and construction process.

In addition to his daily practice, he has served on the AIA, Los Angeles and AIA, California Council Board for seven years, has taught at several universities for more than three decades, has served and chaired the Santa Monica Architectural Review Board, was appointed to the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Board, and even helped pass a California law in 2016 which made it easier for architects, landscape architects, planners, engineers, and artists to serve their communities as volunteers on design review boards and planning commissions.

Jurors, unanimous in their decision to move Folonis forward, noted how most, if not all of his work is exceptional. “His dedication and sharp eye for design have served the profession, and the world, well,” commented one juror. For the last 35 years with no proverbial end in sight, Folonis continues to synthesize the conceptual and practical, consistently proving his ability through buildings sensitive to place, materiality, environment, and the Modernist legacy of Southern California.

Michael W. Folonis, Architects is a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB).

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to a total of three people, and for the first time in history, firm partners Betsey Dougherty, FAIA and Brian Dougherty, FAIA, of Dougherty. Beverly Willis, FAIA, also received the Lifetime Achievement award.

  • Submitted by Shannon Calder, Assoc. Director of Communications AIA California Council