Suni Dillard Wins AIA Young Architects Award 2024


We are thrilled to announce the recognition of Suni Dillard, Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader, by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for her exceptional leadership and significant contributions to the architecture profession through environmental advocacy, increasing access to great design, and mentoring future architects.

Promoted last year to Senior Associate, Suni is driven by the challenge of socially responsible design that positively impacts both the health of people and the environment.

As a Sustainability Leader guiding HMFH’s Sustainability Committee, Suni empowers her colleagues, clients, and community to set ambitious sustainability goals—which isn’t always easy to prioritize in public projects. Particularly for clients who are undertaking what are likely to be once-in-a-lifetime projects for their communities (like school buildings that will be in use for 50+ years), newly available design and sustainability opportunities aren’t always obvious. This is where Suni encourages them to think holistically and consider how they can take their project steps further to create designs that are environmentally and socially impactful. In her words, she pushes them “to do more than just make a new building.”

With her three co-leaders, Suni and the HMFH Sustainability Committee are creating a framework to navigate design processes in concert with the needs of the environment. In doing so, she wants to remind people that design is not just about aesthetics—that it’s important to think more holistically, understand the context, and include sustainable and social justice in the design. “It’s all one package,” she says. “It’s not just about what the building looks like. Good design will address all of these things.”

Outside of HMFH, Suni continues to champion her mission of combining sustainability and social responsibility with good design. She has led the Carbon Leadership Forum Boston chapter’s education committee since 2020. She also curated the Embodied Carbon Series, which helps AEC professionals understand and apply embodied carbon best practices to their projects to reduce emissions and achieve zero carbon. What began as an online series Suni and a small advisory group developed during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a nationally-recognized course and a staple of AIA University.

Notably, Suni prioritizes sharing her experiences and knowledge with the rising generation of future architects.

“It’s important for people to understand that they have options to navigate and that they need to learn how to advocate for themselves.” For Suni, mentoring is about more than just listening to questions and offering advice. She sees it as her responsibility to bring those questions to places she now gets to participate in as a Senior Associate—back to where the decision-makers are. Looking ahead, this is what Suni sees for the future of the architecture profession: education. In all directions.

“Going forward, my goal is to continue educating clients, people in the profession, and the general public to think more critically about how we function as architects. As an industry, we all have to figure out how to do better and design on a holistic level to positively impact the community and the environment. It won’t be just about doing business as usual.”

Suni Dillard | Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader, HMFH Architects