Alumnus wins 2020 AIA Young Architects Award

Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Oswaldo “Ozzie” Tapia (’04, architecture), who lectures at CPP in the architecture department, is a recipient of the 2020 AIA Young Architects Award, bestowed by the American Institute of Architects. He was notified of the award on Jan. 30; however, the awards ceremony, scheduled for May 14 at the AIA National Convention in Los Angeles, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tapia was one of 22 young architects to receive the honor. AIA selected him for the collective work he’s done or contributed to, such as CPP’s Bronco Recreation and Intramural Complex (BRIC), Tarbut V’Torah Lower and Upper School in Irvine, Palomar College Learning Resource Center in San Marcos, the California State University San Bernardino Center for Global Innovation and El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera.

“Three of his most recently completed projects can easily be visited by CPP Students and include: CSU San Bernardino Center for Global Innovation, CSU San Bernardino College of Education and CPP Student Recreation Center (BRIC),” said Steven Flanagan, director of higher education for LPA Design Studios, where Tapia primarily works.

Oswaldo Tapia was one of 22 selected to win the AIA Young Architects Award on Jan. 30.
(Courtesy of LPA Design Studios)

The award only goes out to individuals who did something influential in their communities in their early career, according to Flanagan.

Tapia said he joined the LPA Design Studios as an intern because he was curious to learn more. Wendy Rodgers, also an alum of CPP (’88, architecture), is LPA’s current chief executive officer and a Fellow of the AIA (FAIA). She interviewed Tapia in 2002 and told Flanagan that Tapia “seems too good to be true,” Flanagan said. 

“I was instantly impressed at the comprehensive nature of his studio work and how he described the work with a thoughtful passion,” Flanagan said. “We made him an offer on the spot.” 

Flanagan sees great potential in Tapia’s future since he already has come so far in his career and so early that in due time, he’ll be one of the “most prolific modern architects in this country.”

According to Flanagan, the reason Tapia became a great designer was because he worked closely with Dan Heinfeld of FAIA, Glenn Carels of FAIA and Rogers. The advantage of working with talented designers early on helped Tapia stand out among his peers. 

For more than 30 years, Heinfeld has been president of LPA and described Tapia as “a gifted leader” because he inspires anyone he works with.

According to Tapia, the great collective of teamwork at LPA makes a positive outcome within the communities. 

Tapia is dedicated to pursue his dreams further and has the LPA company to support him along the way. 

“Aside from the positive energy, it’s been reassurance that I am right where I want to be,” Tapia said. “And it has given me a brief platform to simply share my story to help inspire others to follow their passion.” 

At LPA, Tapia works on educational campuses and primary schools, such as K-12 and higher education. He demonstrates and reshapes the role of architect and embraces the change of design to highlight student involvement and the performance everyone brings to help create a new working space.  

Mentoring young designers is exciting because it is an “opportunity to give back to our next generation of professionals,” Tapia said. “They will be shaping communities and cities in the near future and I feel it is one of my responsibilities to help guide, provide perspective or simply be a sounding board for them.”  

Tapia is currently working on projects with Orange Unified School District and Santa Barbara City College. His future projects are student unions for CSUSB Palm Desert Campus and CSU Dominguez Hills. 

He serves as 2020-21 vice president and president-elect of the AIA Orange County chapter, according to the AIA website. At CPP, he lectures in the master’s and undergraduate programs for the architecture and landscape architecture departments. 

For more information about LPA Design Studios, visit More information about AIA can be found at

UPDATE: In the story, “LPA” was referenced as “Leason Pomeroy Associates”. They are now known as “LPA Design Studios”

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