Joan Soranno Wins National Award for Religious Architecture

Joan M. Soranno, FAIA, Design Principal with HGA, has won the 2018 Edward S. Frey Award for her design leadership contributions to religious architecture and allied arts.

With partner John Cook, FAIA, Soranno has created a small in-house design studio that serves as an incubator for innovative design, producing aesthetically-driven and technically challenging work. The pair’s drive for understanding and in-depth research process results in projects that are uniquely suited to meet both the aesthetic and programmatic goals of each client.

“Faith-based design should above all else strive to inspire,” the jury said. “Soranno consistently accomplishes that through her masterful integration of form, material, and light.”

Soranno’s notable projects include the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum, which received the 2014 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Architecture and the 2012 Faith & Form/IFRAA Honor Award for Religious Architecture; Bigelow Chapel for the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, which received the 2006 AIA Honor Award for Architecture; the education and lobby expansion for Temple Israel in Minneapolis; and the new entry pavilion for Walker Art Center.

“I am truly honored to be receiving the 2018 Edward S. Frey Award,” Soranno said. “I’d like to share this accolade with my partner and husband John Cook, whose talent is evident in all of our projects. Working with our spiritually based clients has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our careers and we’re so happy to have had the opportunity to continue HGA’s 50-plus year legacy in religious architecture.”

Sponsored by the AIA Interfaith Design Knowledge Community, the award is named in memory of Rev. Dr. Edward S. Frey, who inspired architects to foster spiritual values in design.

The thoughtful and intentional design incorporated into her religious work is inspirational. Her work evokes an intuitive sense to pause and contemplate both the meaning of the space and its simple serenity.

Award Jury Statement