Howard University Architecture Lecturer Julian Owens Receives 2024 Architectural League Prize

Julian Owens AIA Profile

Architecture lecturer Julian Owens, NOMA, AIA, NCARB, was recently announced a winner of the 2024 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, as a founding director of the Partners of Place design collective.

“Being recognized for our work is a tremendous honor, especially considering that our design collective is still in its first year of establishment. However, what truly ignites my excitement is the progress we are witnessing in our field. Although there is still a long road ahead, the fact that our portfolio, which is solely dedicated to the development of community advocacy tools, is being acknowledged on such a grand stage is incredibly encouraging,” said Owens.

The annual competition’s 2024 theme is Dirty, prompting designers to explore beyond the traditional and physical concept of dirt in built, natural and political environments. This year’s winners will create installations of their work that will be featured either onsite or online and presented in an online exhibition on the league’s website. An online weekly lecture series starting June 13 will also feature presentations by the winners followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A session.

Dirty (infra) structure submission cover

The title of Owens’ design collective’s submission was Dirty (Infra)structure. This portfolio of work examines the theme of dirtiness and its societal implications within the context of infrastructure. It goes beyond physical impurity, highlighting the perceived proximity to impurity and the burden it places on marginalized communities. The focus is on addressing systemic inequalities and stigmas embedded within infrastructure. These projects challenge conventional notions of dirtiness in infrastructure, emphasizing the prefix Infra, which signifies below, beneath, sub, inferior, and after. They center on marginalized communities, redefining the role of infrastructure and cleanliness as mere removal of impurity.

Partners of Place was established in 2023 by its five members, Rayshad Dorsey, Joseph James, Diego Zubizarreta Otero, Julian Owens, and Michael Urueta. The research, ideation, and design collective focuses on issues of social and environmental equity. Partners of Place’s speculative designs imagine a more inclusive future. Throughout their projects, the collective proposes interventions into the built environment contextualized by the social sciences, using techniques of data visualization, historical mapping, and storytelling.

(Featured image [top] courtesy of AIA)

About the Architectural League Prize

Established in 1981 to recognize exemplary and provocative work by young practitioners, The Architectural League Prize is an annual portfolio competition, lecture series, and exhibition organized by The Architectural League and its Young Architects + Designers Committee.

Initially established as the Young Architects’ Forum, the award has represented an important career milestone for several generations of designers. The program exemplifies the League’s long-standing commitment to identifying and nurturing the development of talented young architects and designers. To learn more about past winners, visit



Architecture and College of Engineering and Architecture