Michael Willis, FAIA, earns award, gives eloquent acceptance speech

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC), recognized Michael Willis, FAIA as the 2015 Norma Sklarek Award Recipient.

This award, implemented in 2014, in honor of the late Norma Sklarek, FAIA, whose name is associated with a litany of firsts, including the first African-American woman to become a member of the AIA (1959), and the first African-American woman to become a Fellow of the AIA (1980), is conferred by the AIACC Board of Directors on an architect in recognition of their social responsibility. The purpose of the award is to publicly recognize an architect making significant humanitarian contributions to society.

Founder and Principal of MWA Architects, Willis leads a firm with a known history of creating thoughtful design solutions, such as post-hurricane Katrina neighborhoods in New Orleans. Willis is also a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Architecture: The Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

The Bay Area architect was honored officially at the November Awards Luncheon at the Verge Center for the Arts in Sacramento, where he gave a thoughtful and eloquent acceptance speech, recognizing recognized the legacy he represents. “I stand here honored and proud to be recognized as someone who can carry on her legacy,” he said. Willis also made note that there are 1,898 black registered architects according to a source of his, of which 330 are women.

Perhaps the most touching aspect of this award, however, is the fact that Willis worked with Sklarek. “I had the joy of being Norma’s colleague,” he said.

For more information on any of the above information—the organization, Willis, or the Norma Sklarek Award, contact

Skip to content