Ellen Duff, AIA, NCARB: AIA Michigan’s 2023 Young Architect of the Year

We are overjoyed to announce the recognition of Fielding International’s Ellen Duff, as AIA Michigan’s 2023 Young Architect of the Year. This accolade underlines Ellen’s profound passion, unwavering dedication, and exemplary leadership in the realm of architecture.

From her early days with our firm, Ellen has shown a commitment to excellence and innovation, setting her apart. Her ability to continuously push boundaries and transform clients’ visions into realities showcases her unparalleled expertise in architectural design.

Ellen guiding a staff engagement session at Portage Public Schools.
Ellen values user voices, collaborating with Kindergarten students at Singapore American School to design play spaces.
Ellen collaborates with stakeholders and addresses the Portage Board of Education.

“Her work reflects her attention to detail, her capacity to take all the thoughts, ideas, and suggestions that emerge from a group discussion and translate that into drawings that have people smiling and nodding their heads because they know they were heard.”

– Ken Schunk, Singapore American School

A Beacon of Inspiration

Ellen’s enthusiasm and drive have been pivotal for our team at Fielding International. Moreover, her impact reverberates throughout the architectural profession, particularly within the niche of education design. With every project she undertakes, Ellen emphasizes her dedication to enhancing our communities positively.

She stands out as a thought leader in the architectural domain, with enduring contributions in areas such as community-informed design, pioneering K-12 educational settings, and mentorship in design.

A Journey of Excellence

Ellen’s start in architecture came with an ambitious goal: to harness design as a tool for societal progress. Her innovative designs, inspired by the harmonious blend of culture, community, and interactive design elements, have paved the way for educational spaces that cater to evolving and equitable learning experiences.

YCIS Ronghua Early Learning Center
Shanghai, China
Portage Public Schools – Central Elementary School
Portage, MI, USA
Ballarat Grammar School 5/6 Centre
Wendouree, VIC, Australia

Her outstanding projects are globally recognized. One of her earliest ventures post-graduation was transforming a nightclub in Shanghai into an Early Learning Center, garnering the A4LE LeSolutions award in 2019 and becoming the first LEED Gold school in Shanghai.

Whether it’s a sustainable elementary school for 2,000 students in Singapore’s rainforests, a middle school with community ties overlooking Mexico’s coastline, or incorporating student voice and educational alignment into the designs of new elementary schools in Portage and Ann Arbor, Ellen’s fingerprint remains consistent. She aims to shape learning spaces that amplify opportunities for students, educators, and their surrounding communities.

Ellen and the Fielding team at Temple Israel’s 2020 site visit. Ellen, Lead Designer, transformed the school’s spaces and programs.
Ellen sparks inspiration during a staff engagement session at Delmar Middle School in Mexico.

Beyond Architecture

But Ellen’s contributions are not confined to architecture alone. She’s an advocate for knowledge sharing and continual learning. From her role as a Graduate Student Instructor at the University of Michigan to being a speaker at national educational conferences, her voice and vision are always in demand. Ellen’s engagement in podcasts and workshops resonates with her belief in an open exchange of ideas.

Furthermore, she’s a beacon for positive change both within Fielding International and the broader community. Through initiatives ranging from coordinating research internships to mentoring Detroit’s budding architectural talents, Ellen’s influence is widespread.

B Corp Impact Areas

Her leadership in Fielding International’s Certified B Corporation™ initiative further cements her commitment to societal change. As businesses globally recognize the need for sustainable and community-centric operations, Ellen’s vision for Fielding International aligns perfectly with this global movement.

B Corp Website Tagline

A Bright Future 

Ellen’s journey epitomizes what it means to be a visionary architect in the modern world. As she propels forward, her unwavering commitment to community engagement and innovative educational design promises to keep shaping a brighter future for all.

AIA Detroit Young Architect Award, 2022
AIA Michigan Young Architect Award, 2023
Ellen attending AIA awards ceremony with Fielding colleagues

Congratulations, Ellen, on this well-deserved recognition! The sky is the limit, and we are ecstatic to witness your continued ascent in the architectural world.

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