BNIM Principal Laura Lesniewski Recognized as 2019 AIA KC Architect of the Year

BNIM Principal Laura Lesniewski Recognized as 2019 AIA KC Architect of the Year

Kansas City, MO (December 12, 2019) — The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Kansas City has announced the honorees of the organization’s annual Board Awards. Among the recipients, BNIM Principal Laura Lesniewski is recognized as the 2019 Architect of the Year in acknowledgment of her contributions to the industry, her environmental stewardship, and her humanitarian efforts.

Lesniewski is building a legacy of industry leadership, both locally and nationally. In 2018, she was appointed to serve a three-year term on the national AIA Strategic Council, which, according to the AIA website, “…is charged with surveying the profession to identify opportunities and threats, and engaging in strategic planning to inform the goals, objectives and strategies of the AIA.” Locally, Lesniewski has maintained close involvement with the AIA Kansas City chapter, serving as President and Three-Year Board Director, and she has served as a juror for design awards at other AIA chapters. She also served as a Founding Board Member of the Lean Construction Institute-Kansas City and the Center for Architecture & Design-Kansas City. Her industry efforts in recent years have helped to promote diversity and elevate female architects in the industry. 

As a practitioner, Lesniewski has emerged nationally as a leader in sustainable and regenerative design. Most notably, she led the design team for the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, NY, a biological wastewater filtration facility with a strong educational component focused on holistic environmental awareness. The Omega Center was the first project to receive both Living Building and LEED Platinum certifications, and it has been recognized with a COTE Top Ten Award from the AIA.

Through her church, Jacob’s Well, Lesniewski has helped to lead an outreach effort committed to elevating tribal communities in Pokot, Kenya. It began with seeking peace in the region through access to clean water, then focused on enhancing educational opportunities for the primary school graduates of the Asilong community. Lesniewski helped lead efforts for 10 new wells and a new high school campus that includes classrooms, offices, dormitories, and teacher housing. Because of Asilong’s remote location in northwest Kenya and within a community of subsistence farmers and pastoralists, true sustainability was the driver for each design decision, resulting in a net-zero energy and water campus. The Asilong Christian High School was also recognized with a COTE Top Ten Award in 2019.

“This recognition is incredibly well deserved,” said Steve McDowell, President and CEO of BNIM. “Laura continues to make significant impacts within our firm and our industry. She does not hesitate to ask difficult questions that push us out of our comfort zones, resulting in real, quantifiable change that is making the world a better place.”

Lesniewski’s contributions extend to her local community as well. A long-time supporter of Habitat for Humanity-Kansas City, she has served the organization as President and Board Member. She is also a Board Member for the Westside Housing Organization and the Westside Neighborhood Association, and she has served on the Board of Elders at Jacob’s Well Church in Kansas City.

Lesniewski is the fifth BNIM leader to be recognized with this award since its inception in 2006. 

BNIM’s core purpose is: “We deliver beautiful, integrated, living environments that inspire change and enhance the human condition.” The services we provide—architecture, interior design, landscape design, sustainability leadership and consulting, graphic design, and planning—are guided by this mission. BNIM has been recognized with more than 500 awards for exceptional design and thought leadership—including the 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award—and the firm has emerged nationally as a leading resource for established methodologies, innovative technologies, and cutting-edge research in architecture, planning, and landscape design. Through a process of integrated design, which is both an organized collaboration between disciplines and an interweaving and interconnectivity of building systems, our team creates designs that are both environmentally responsible and achieve the highest level of design excellence. For more information, visit

For more information, contact Beena Ramaswami at [email protected]