Cal Poly Architecture Faculty Member and Alumni Named Fellows by the American Institute of Architects

Cal Poly Professor Thomas Fowler speaks to high school students as part of the Internnect internship program, which provides opportunities for teens from schools in Tulare and Kings counties to gain career experience.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly faculty member and two alumni have been named fellows by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for their contributions to the architecture profession and to society. 

Architecture Professor Thomas Fowler was selected to join the AIA College of Fellows, the organization’s highest membership honor. Fowler, who has helped shape Cal Poly’s top-ranked public architecture program for more than 23 years, teaches undergraduate and graduate students and is the director of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design’s (CAED) graduate program in architecture. He was also recognized this year with Cal Poly’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the prestigious Wang Family Excellence Award by the California State University.

“Thomas Fowler is a truly extraordinary teacher who has played a major role in shaping Cal Poly’s top-ranked architecture program,” CAED Dean Christine Theodoropoulos said. “He is an influential innovator in the field of architectural education known for his interdisciplinary approach to Learn by Doing and for his collaborations with practitioners and communities. Generations of Cal Poly students credit him for making a difference in their lives and careers.” 

Two Cal Poly alumni have also been elevated to the AIA College of Fellows: Robert J. Condia, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly in 1980, and Lee E. Salin, who graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Condia is an architecture professor at Kansas State University; Salin is the managing principal of Anderson Brulé Architects in San Jose, California.

In addition, the AIA recognized alumnus Frank Mahan, a 2003 architecture graduate, with the Young Architects Award. Mahan is an associate director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in New York City. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.

“The college is very proud of the accomplishments of our three alumni, who will be honored by the AIA,” Theodoropoulos said.

Fowler, Condia and Salin will receive fellowship medals June 7 during the Investiture of Fellows Ceremony at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2019 at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. Nationwide, the AIA’s Jury of Fellows elevated 115 AIA members to its College of Fellows. Only 3% of the AIA members have this distinction.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for the significance of working with a wonderful range of students over an extended period of time,” Fowler said.

Fowler was honored in the AIA College of Fellow’s education category, which is granted to architects who have made notable contributions through their work in education, research, literature or the practice of architecture. His nomination took note of his work to establish Cal Poly’s Community Interdisciplinary Design Studio (CIDS), serving as director since its founding in 1997. The studio provides opportunities for students to participate in interdisciplinary collaborations with other departments.

“Combining the aspirational aspects of the creative building design process with the importance of creating bridges to professional practice has always been a value that I have carried into the classroom,” Fowler said of his educational approach. “But I have also understood the importance of continuing to link students to the ongoing and evolving models of innovative trans-disciplinary collaborations that happen inside and outside of the discipline of architecture and provide the needed skill set for graduating students to become leaders in industry.”

Fowler earned his Bachelor of Architecture from New York Institute of Technology and his Master of Architecture in architectural design from Cornell University.

For more information on the AIA Fellowship Program and its recipients, visit:

To read more about the 2019 Young Architects Award, go to:

About the College of Architecture and Environmental Design
With more than 1,900 students, Cal Poly’s acclaimed College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) offers a unique blend of eight degree programs in five closely related departments: architectural engineering, architecture, city and regional planning, construction management, and landscape architecture. For more than 70 years, the CAED programs and 16,000 alumni have been a positive influence on the forces that shape the planning, design and construction worlds. Learn more at

Photo information: Cal Poly Professor Thomas Fowler speaks to high school students as part of the Internnect internship program, which provides opportunities for teens from schools in Tulare and Kings counties to gain career experience. 

Contact: Ray Ladd

May 29, 2019

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