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ISU College of Design honors Iowa Women in Architecture founders with 2013 Design Achievement Award

November 18, 2013


(image) AMES, Iowa — Danielle C. Hermann, Erin Olson-Douglas, LaDan Omidvar and Ann Sobiech Munson, co-founders of the Iowa Women in Architecture nonprofit educational organization, are recipients of the 2013 Design Achievement Award presented by the Iowa State University College of Design.

The Design Achievement Award recognizes outstanding mid-career creative and professional achievements of Iowa State alumni in the fields of architecture, art and design, community and regional planning, and landscape architecture.

Hermann, of Waukee, received bachelor of architecture (2001) and master of architecture (2008) degrees from Iowa State. Olson-Douglas, of Des Moines, received a bachelor of architecture from ISU in 1997. Omidvar, of Ames, holds bachelor of architecture (1982), master of community and regional planning (1985) and master of architecture (1996) degrees from the university. Sobiech Munson, of Slater, received a master of architecture in 2000. They were honored during Homecoming at the ISU Alumni Association's 82nd annual Honors and Awards Ceremony, Nov. 8.

With more than 50 years of combined experience as practitioners and educators in architecture and urban design, Hermann, Olson-Douglas, Omidvar and Sobiech Munson in 2011 established Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia) to support and promote women involved in the design and construction of the built environment.

Through activities such as networking, peer mentorship, professional development, research initiatives, and community outreach programs, iaWia seeks to empower its members, celebrate the contributions of women design professionals, and serve as a resource for women at all stages of their careers. The group holds major quarterly events and engages in activities to increase the visibility of women in design and related fields, advocate for issues relevant to these women, advance women in leadership positions, and lead discussion about cultural change in design professions.

A student chapter at ISU extends these opportunities to students and faculty and responds to their particular needs.

"These four alumnae have experienced at first hand the issues that women design professionals must navigate to advance their careers, and are committed to helping others develop as leaders," said Luis Rico-Gutierrez, dean of the ISU College of Design.

"They all serve as important role models and advocates with accomplishments and expertise deserving of individual recognition; together they reflect our belief that an inclusive environment is more creative and has exponentially more capacity to approach problem solving in a truly innovative way."

Hermann is a project architect for OPN Architects, Inc., in Des Moines and past director of archives for iaWia. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the "I Have a Dream" Foundation Board. Hermann was named one of the Des Moines Business Record's 40 Under 40 in 2012 and received Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards from the City of Des Moines in 2007 and 2011.

The economic development coordinator for the City of Des Moines, Olson-Douglas serves as chair of iaWia and director of communication and outreach. She was the vice chair in 2011-12. She is a member of Consortium, a professional women’s breakfast club, and the AIA. Olson-Douglas was named one of the Des Moines Business Record’s 40 Under 40 in 2011. She received a master of architecture in urban design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2004.

An architect in the state of Iowa and a lecturer in the ISU Department of Architecture, Omidvar chairs the iaWia education and programs committee. Prior to joining the Iowa State faculty, she was a project architect and project manager with Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering in Des Moines. Omidvar is a LEED Accredited Professional and a member of the AIA and the Iowa chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. She served on the AIA board of directors for three years. She received the Margaret Sloss Gender Equity Award from Iowa State in 2011.

Sobiech Munson is an architect and specifier with Substance Architecture in Des Moines and previously was director of the ISU College of Design's first-year Core Design Program. She is the past chair of iaWia and served as chair in 2011-12. She also is the certification chair for the Central Iowa Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute and a liaison for the CSI award jury with the ISU Department of Architecture. Along with Thomas Leslie, Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture at Iowa State, Sobiech Munson received a 2005-06 Creative Achievement Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Danielle C. Hermann, (515) 309-0722,
Erin Olson-Douglas, (515) 779-9988,
LaDan Omidvar,
Ann Sobiech Munson, (515) 314-0431,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,