We are pleased to share that Mark Bacon, Design Principal, has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the AIA Young Architects Award. The Young Architects award honors emerging talent who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.
Mark is an architect, educator, and community leader who uses design to create public spaces and forums rich with optimism and vitality. His inquisitive, collaborative approach promotes dialogue and invites clients, colleagues, students, and the public to explore and forge their own design identities––resulting in solutions that are celebrated and owned by all involved.
Originally from central Kansas, Mark’s work draws inspiration from regional traditions of craft and fabrication, placing an emphasis on the embedded intelligence of materials in concert with construction methods. He also understands first-hand how accessible public design can build strong communities, especially in rural locations.
Mark discovered his love for teaching while attending Kansas State University. After graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Architecture, he continued to teach design studio at KSU. He then took a role as project designer at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, where he honed his interest in material technology and co-founded BCJ’s Design Research and Development Committee. In 2010, Mark joined BVH and spearheaded revitalizing its design practice.
Designing in “the middle of nowhere” sounds like an exercise in futility. The budgets are tight and pragmatism is the prevailing expectation. This is where Mark finds the biggest challenges—and the biggest rewards—as an architect. Mark’s design for the Rangeland Laboratory and Eagle Ridge Student Housing complex, both at Chadron State College (CSC), and the Nature Conservancy Niobrara River Valley Preserve Visitor’s Center all highlight Mark’s particular ability to create unique built environments in unexpected places. The vision for these projects, and others like them, are what allow Mark to inspire clients and colleagues to view design not as utility, but as a holistic strategy for creating value and revitalizing communities.
A driving force in shaping BVH’s design-focused culture, Mark’s ability to see potential in projects and people makes him a successful firm-wide leader. Mark’s contributions have resulted in his trajectory from design architect to Design Director and in ultimately a promotion to Design Principal, with a seat on the firm’s Board of Directors.
Mark views teaching as an opportunity to inspire and be inspired—from students, mentors, and colleagues. He looks to reach up-and-coming architects through his fourth year design studios, where his students are motivated to discover their own architectural language and point of view. A mentor by nature, he continues to help students after graduation by connecting them with local firms and his personal contacts at internationally recognized practices. He also co-founded the SGH/ Dri-Design Student Competition at UNL, a scholarship which is open to any fourth-year student and juried by a panel of nationally recognized architects from across the country.
Beyond his work with architectural students, Mark also impacts his local communities. He founded DesignThat, a pro bono organization that connects designers with communities in need, to celebrate BVH’s 50th anniversary. He also works with Lincoln-based City Impact, a non-profit organization that empowers under-resourced communities through youth and neighborhood development. He organized design studios that ultimately led to creating a new home for the organization, which BVH was able to lend pro bono services to designing and building.
Most importantly, Mark is generous with his time and expertise, welcoming colleagues and students alike to stop by for informal critiques or discussions. He promotes a safe forum for iterating, knowing that the best idea can come from anyone, regardless of their title or experience. As a result, he has created an open, design-focused firm culture that has become a leading advocate for design in the Midwest.
“During Mark’s leadership at BVH Architecture, he has both leveraged the office’s legacy and advanced it. Thoughtful, site responsive designs, exceptional craft, empathetic leadership, and rich office culture are some of the hallmarks which have elevated BVH to one of the Midwest’s premier design firms.” — Joseph N. Biondo, FAIA
Projects of Note
Museum of Nebraska Art
CSC Math Science Center for Innovative Learning
The Nature Conservancy Niobrara River Valley Preserve Visitor’s Center
Eagle Ridge Student Housing
St. John Paul II Newman Center