LPA Design Studios Wins Big at AIA-OC 2022 Awards

Integrated design firm earns nine awards for recreation, civic, corporate, housing and education projects, including two COTE awards recognizing sustainable design excellence

Projects designed by LPA Design Studios earned nine awards at last week’s American Institute of Architects-Orange County annual awards ceremony, including top honors for projects that demonstrated exceptional sustainability, innovation and conservation of resources.

LPA’s award winners range from an energy efficient, inclusive aquatic and recreation center in a tight urban setting and a corporate campus designed for innovation and collaboration, to an early childhood center that promotes play and creativity and supportive housing that addresses community needs.

West Hollywood Aquatic & Recreation Center.

The annual AIA Orange County Design Awards salute the highest achievement in design. The chapter evaluates projects, in part, on the 10 principles of the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, which focuses on sustainable, resilient, and inclusive design.

This is the 46th year in a row that LPA has earned at least one top award from AIA-OC, one of the largest chapters in the country. LPA took home 30% of the awards at this year’s ceremony. The nine awards total is not unprecedented: in 2017 LPA won nine awards, in 2021 eight awards, and two other years earned seven awards.

“These award-winning projects represent a diverse cross section of our firm’s practices, were supported by a number of our studios, and many were completed with fully integrated teams,” LPA Chief Design Officer Keith Hempel says. “The outcome is a great demonstration that a better process equals better results.”

This year’s LPA honorees reflect a wide range of clients, challenges and design excellence.

West Hollywood Aquatic & Recreation Center


A new five-story community complex in a tight urban setting, earned an Honor Award in the Commercial category. The complex project was the result of an eight-year relationship between designers and the community. The center, which was certified as LEED Gold, also earned a COTE Award of Honor, the top honor for sustainable design.

Honor Award

COTE Award of Honor
Commercial, Built

Jury comment: “This project was rock solid on all levels. The design team took all the pieces and created this lively, urbanistically sophisticated yet approachable project. This was one of the few projects that took it all the way across the board. This is a great exemplar of equity and sustainability.”

Edwards Lifesciences Campus Expansion

Edwards Expansion

A 10-acre campus expansion designed to spark creativity, innovation and a healthier workforce earned a Merit Award in the Commercial category. An integrated team of architects, engineers and landscape architects developed a campus that cuts energy costs and activates outdoor spaces, while supporting the company’s life-saving work. The campus also earned a COTE Award of Merit, one of only three COTE awards this year.

Merit Award

COTE Award of Merit
Commercial, Built

Jury comment: “There’s sophistication and elegance in how these spaces interact...the way people move through and can see each other at different levels. This team took it all the way. Great design AND great sustainability – weaving those two together is important, and this project did a great job of that.”

San Bernardino USD Early Childhood Center

Early Childhood Education Center 02

The design for San Bernardino USD creates a model for a net zero energy facility to support preschool and transitional TK programs in flexible, cost-effective buildings designed around outdoor zones with a variety of play and gathering spaces designed to inspire different forms of learning for pre-K children.

Honor Award

Commercial, Unbuilt

Jury comment: “The architecture is sophisticated and incorporates really strong ideas as a place for kids…. The scale, scope and landscape are done with simple elegance.”

County of Orange Civic Center


The new civic center complex for the County of Orange is an open, energy-efficient facility that reworks how the County interacts with the public, upgrades employee work environments and establishes a new urban center for downtown Santa Ana. Part of a 20-year master plan to reshape the County’s real estate assets, the complex includes two six-story, 250,000-square-foot office buildings, which bookend a 35,000-square-foot plaza, a retail-inspired “one-stop shop” public counter for 13 County departments and a jewel box–like new hearing room for the County Board of Supervisors.

Citation Award
Commercial, Built

Jury comment: “The exterior of the hearing room space really sings – it has a classic California modernist feeling, a lightness that is really appropriate... We admired a lot of the moves, the materiality references, and the stepped down masses to address the large scale of the buildings.”

Bethel AME Supportive Housing

Bethel Housing

LPA is working with the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in San Diego to develop a three-story, net zero energy permanent supportive housing project for previously unhoused veterans on under-utilized church land. The design was recognized with a special Honor award in the Framework for Design Excellence category for representing Design for Equitable Communities.

Honor Award

Framework for Design Excellence, Design for Equitable Communities

Jury comment: “This checked all the boxes for good design, urban planning, and sustainability aspirations... Commended for social and environmental responsibility - it is architecture that is making a positive change for supportive housing.”

Tribute Housing

Tribute Housing

A mixed-use project in Sacramento with three floors of residential and commercial on the ground floor, the design draws on the mid-century-modern sensibilities of the building, highlighting the concrete frame, which is exposed throughout the project as the primary materiality in this modernist approach to housing.

Merit Award

Multifamily/Mixed Use Development, Unbuilt

Jury Comment: “Great example of restraint and why it is good to be a designer that edits... Exceptional and thought provoking - it tells a nice story.”

AB 68

AB 68

A response to California Assembly Bill 68, which opened the door for increased development of accessory dwelling units, the design creates a sustainable model for multi-generational housing. The design provides flexibility, fits the community and meets the AIA 2030 Challenge as a net zero project.

Merit Award

Multi Family/Mixed Use Development, Unbuilt

Jury comment: “Excellent example of sustainable and affordable living that is respectful of its neighbors. The architecture is well tuned and the volumes layer exceptionally well. You can’t get somewhere without dreaming!”

The projects that received honors represent LPA’s diversity and talent. But the housing awards are extra special, reflecting the firm’s work addressing the pressing issues around delivering affordable housing.

The projects that received honors represent LPA’s diversity and talent, LPA President Dan Heinfeld says. But the housing awards are extra special, reflecting the firm’s work addressing the pressing issues around delivering affordable housing.

“Our entry into the housing market was not about market share: it was about making a difference,” Heinfeld says. “These three projects demonstrate the constraints placed on housing are not constraints to design or sustainability but merely a test of creativity.”