APLA Alumnus Awarded Noland Medal

Church of the Holy Cross Fairfax, Virginia

The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA) is pleased to congratulate alumnus Brian Frickie, FAIA, on receiving the 2023 William C. Noland Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Virginia.

Brian Frickie
Brian Frickie ’81

The highest award given to a member architect, the Noland Medal honors a distinguished body of work “that spans a wide spectrum of the profession and transcends the scope of normal professional activities.”

Frickie is the president of Kerns Group Architects/KGA Studio in Falls Church, Virginia, where he’s worked for 39 years.

“I never thought I’d win this award,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be elevated to fellowship. I always wanted to do the work rather than seek recognition.”

A Decatur, Alabama, native, Brian Frickie ’81 fell in love with architecture at Auburn.

“My time at Auburn was so good—everything about architecture as I moved through the curriculum, every studio,” he shared.

But he graduated into the challenging economic climate of the early 1980s.

“I didn’t think I’d be in Virginia very long,” Frickie said. “I worked at a couple of other jobs briefly, but I was on the verge of feeling disenfranchised from the field.”

Frickie’s long-time business partner changed all that in 1985.

“Tom Kerns changed my attitude in my last interview,” Frickie stated. “It was like the skies cleared. Tom wanted to practice architecture like I wanted to.”

Frickie became a principal at Kerns Group five years later.

Frickie has helped his firm earn more than a dozen design awards, but his interest in the next generation of architect leaders has also drawn significant attention. AIA Virginia noted Frickie’s devotion to creating a “practice culture that encourages young professionals to take on leadership roles on projects, in the office, in the AIA, in the profession and in their communities.”

During his time as president of AIA Virginia, Frickie launched initiatives aimed at cultivating future leaders. These efforts involved reestablishing connections between architects in educational institutions and firms, as well as fostering relationships among architects at various levels within AIA.

As chair of the AIA National Small Firm Roundtable (SFRT), Frickie rebranded it as the Small Firm Exchange (SFx) and conceived AIAKinetic, “professional primer” for architects. Frickie also served on the AIA National Strategic Council, where he convened the Professional Development Study Group and chaired the AIA National Strategic Planning Committee, taking part in creating AIA’s 2021­–2025 Strategic Plan.

Frickie has long been devoted to equipping future generations of architects with the skills to enhance the environment for society and elevating the architecture profession. He conceived a year-long leadership development academy for emerging professionals that became AIA Virginia’s Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) in 2009 and has since inspired more than 50 other similar programs across the country.

“We need to teach the next generation of architects about leadership and community engagement,” Frickie said.