Alums Awarded 2024 Architectural League Prize

May 7, 2024
The design collective, Partners of Place, is one of only six to receive the prestigious national award, for projects examining the 2024 theme of dirtiness and its societal implications within the context of architecture.
Colorful collage graphic from Partners of Place's Architectural League submission

Congratulations to two School of Architecture alumni whose design collective, Partners of Place (PoP), was named one of the 2024 Architecture League Prize winners. Held annually, the prestigious Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers competition celebrates visionary work by young practitioners less than ten years out of school. Drawing entries from around North America, this year’s League Prize was awarded to only six teams.

Co-founded by two UT Austin Master of Architecture graduates, Joseph James (M. Arch 2018) and Diego Zubizarreta Otero (M. Arch 2020), along with three other partners, Rayshad Dorsey, Julian Owens, and Michael Urueta, Partners of Place is an interdisciplinary research, ideation, and design collective, grounded in social and environmental equity. The group sees “space as inherently communal, requiring partnerships that advocate to make the invisible seen, the unheard discernable, and the forgotten remembered.” 

Working within the 2024 Architectural League Prize theme, “Dirty,” Partners of Place submitted a collection of projects that examine the theme of dirtiness and its societal implications within the context of infrastructure. Comprised of four parts, each project challenges the conventional notions of dirtiness in infrastructure, emphasizing “infra,” which signifies “below,” “beneath,” “inferior,” and “after.” Instead, these projects center the marginalized, exiled, and forgotten by recognizing how certain groups benefit from a structural framework oppressing and exploiting minority communities. The projects redefine the role of cleanliness as it relates to infrastructure as more than the mere removal of impurity from view.

Partners of Place’s five partners collaborate remotely from cities nationwide including Austin, Brooklyn, Charleston, Greenville, and Washington D.C., tapping into their respective networks and collaborative relationships. Considering the context of the social sciences in parallel with the built environment, the collective extends the traditional architectural boundaries to develop strategies for inclusive placemaking through data visualization, socio-political analysis, historical mapping, and storytelling.

James and Zubizarreta first met during an undergraduate study-abroad semester in Barcelona, Spain. Sharing a design studio, seminars, and traveling to multiple European cities together provided them with invaluable lessons on the impact of design in communal spaces and the intricate relationship of architecture with culture, community, and urban contexts. A year later, James and Zubizarreta pursued their graduate studies at the UT School of Architecture, building on their design acumen via engaging coursework like Associate Professor Kory Bieg’s Digital Modelling and Fabrication course, Sustainable Design and Mass Timber Technologies with Associate Professor Uli Dangel, and Migratory Urbanism with Associate Professor Sarah Lopez, who now teaches at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

Since then, James, Zubizarreta, and their partners formed Partners of Place out of a desire to center design thinking on urban, historical, and cultural research, bringing together a diverse and multidisciplinary team to explore unconventional aspects of design practice. Recognizing how the spaces we inhabit profoundly shape our lives, PoP’s design and research processes prioritize sustainable, equitable, and culturally impactful methods for considering communities. From the construction of their core teams to the development of their partner relationships, Partners of Place sees projects as opportunities for dialogue that explores and improves the collective quality and knowledge of place. 

"The Architectural League Prize is one of the most significant and prestigious recognitions in our field, and we couldn't be more excited for Joseph, Diego, and their team," said Heather Woofter, Dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. "It is a huge recognition and honor for them and for the school to have alums named among the League Prize winners. We look forward to seeing the future and continued impact of their work."

Learn more about the 2024 Architectural League Prize winners, and the projects Partners of Place submitted for the competition—The United Amends Project (UAP)SXCO: The Sex Worker’s Co-OpThe Houston House Music Museum + AIDS Memorial, and Patchwork: A Black + Rural Homecoming

White architectural models on display on wood blocks.
Patchwork: A Black + Rural Homecoming, 2023
Graphic map in shades of grey and yellow
Patchwork: A Black + Rural Homecoming, 2023
Rotating gif
Patchwork: A Black + Rural Homecoming, 2023
A rotating gif
Patchwork: A Black + Rural Homecoming, 2023
Graphic of several phones and screenshots
The United Amends Project (UAP), 2021
Several graphic screenshots in black, white, and green
The United Amends Project (UAP), 2021