Congratulations are in order for Texas Architect Lorena Toffer, AIA. Toffer, a member of AIA Dallas and an associate at Corgan, has been honored with a 2014 AIA Young Architects Award. This award is presented to professionals who have been licensed 10 years or fewer and have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession early in their careers.
Toffer is one of the 18 architects from across the country to receive AIA's Young Architects Award this year. A design leader, advocate for diversity and inclusion, and community activist who received her own chapter's Young Architect of the Year Award in 2011, she truly exemplifies servant leadership in architecture.
Receiving the AIA Young Architects Award is “both an honor and responsibility,” says Toffer. “While figures are important and help measure our progress toward or beyond an initial goal, some of the most important contributions are beyond measure,” she says. Toffer especially values the opportunity to be an “inspiration and role model for our youth” and “becoming a go-to resource within Corgan, Dallas AIA, and the Dallas community.”
Toffer’s commitment to AIA Dallas committee Latinos in Architecture (LiA), which she chaired in 2012-2013, has spurred significant changes in Latino visibiltity in her Dallas community. Under her leadership, LiA has forged long-lasting partnerships with several local organizations, including Dallas City Design Studio, Latino Cultural Center in Dallas, Dallas Architecture Forum, Big Thought, AIA Diversity Council, and foreign consulates. Through such partnerships, LiA has been afforded the opportunity to present several lectures at events open to both the design community and the public. The organization also hosts an annual exhibit and reception, “ENLACES,” that celebrates the work of more than 50 Latino architects and designers.
Through her work with LiA, Toffer has not only implemented local changes, but also begun a larger campaign aiding in the creation of similar programs in other chapters by engaging with her peers at 2012 AIA National Convention.
Toffer’s unbridled commitment to community activism was displayed in her joint effort with Dallas City Design Studio and LiA founders to document 330 homes in West Dallas. The team volunteered to record the demographics of the La Bajada community, a neighborhood threatened by future development, and their efforts led to the approval of one of the largest neighborhood stabilization overlays in the city’s history.
Toffer also is a partner of “From an Architect’s Bookshelf” program, which has allied with over 20 architecture and engineering firms to distribute over 1,500 books to seven middle and high school students libraries. Toffer says she really enjoys sharing her personal story with students on the days the books are delivered. “This personal connection is one of the most valuable marks one individual can leave on a young mind — to show them possibilities, that anything is possible.”
Truly, Toffer’s work and extensive volunteer activities thus far leave us with much to be excited about in terms of this young architect’s future endeavors. Toffer commented that she seeks to “expand the role of an architect, and bring this noble profession back to its community.” Clearly, she is well on her way to making a difference in this regard.