November 8, 2022 U.S.-Venezuela Design Project Recognized with National Award

sunshine through an outdoor pavilion

Congratulations to the binational design team whose work in Venezuela was recognized with a 2022 Phil Freelon Professional Design Award, Honor Level, from the National Organization of Minority Architects. The Honor award is the highest award given in each category.

The winning design/build project, called Proyecto Volcadero, was led by Assoc. Professor Milagros Zingoni, director of our School of Interior Architecture, and included UT students Valentina Gomez, Journalism, and Ashley Ebbert, Interior Architecture. The team also included Professor Oriana Venti, Universidad de Oriente; Professor Sonia Garcia, Universidad de Oriente; Oriana Gil Perez, Arizona State University; industry representatives; and dozens of local citizens in Volcadero, Venezuela.

A research-funded effort, Proyecto Volcadero aimed to empower the Volcadero community and the students and professors from the local university, exploring architecture as an agent of change that could ignite social transformation. The programming included collaboratively designing and building a recreational and playful space, a framework that houses canoeing and water polo competitions and practices and a space for market events, celebrations and meetings through a system of three pavilions located on a plot of 1900 sq. ft.

“As the first such public space in the area and the first social transformational experience for the community, Proyecto Volcadero shifted the paradigm of architecture and architecture education, placing the public good at the core of every decision,” said Zingoni. “We’re honored that NOMA would recognize our collaboration and resulting transformative change with this coveted national design award.”

“The binational collaboration synthesized research, shared applied pedagogy and attained a transformation in the local community,” Zingoni continued. “It was a product of a participatory process to amplify the voices of more than 60 local community members while promoting ways of life-long learning through a design/build studio for more than 80 architecture and civil engineering students and local youth.”

The 2022 Phil Freelon Award from NOMA was presented in the Small Project category during the organization’s international conference in Nashville, Tenn., in October. Normally presented to professional designers or firms, the UT-UDO-ASU team were the first academia-led team to receive the honor.

The Freelon awards recognize outstanding architectural design work in new construction, rehabilitation, restorations, additions, adaptive reuse or conceptual work in several categories. According to, the award is named “in honor of Phil Freelon’s notable career, recognizing him as one of the most influential African American architects of our time.” Freelon passed away in 2019, prompting NOMA to rename its longstanding design awards program in honor of him.

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Read more about Proyecto Volcadero.

Learn about our School of Interior Architecture.