Ross Miller ’10 sees an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy through the buildings and projects he designs as a project coordinator for HDR Inc. in Omaha. That passion pushed him to pursue the master of architecture/master of business administration joint program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration. It also recently led to a career highlight of receiving the prestigious Associates Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
“An amazing thing about architecture is many of the buildings I will have the opportunity to design and work on throughout my career will outlive me,” he said. “You can see the tangible results, a finished building, conceived from pen and paper. Not too many people can lay claim to something so tangible in their line of work.”
One of just seven people nationwide to receive the AIA Associates Award, Miller has been with HDR since earning his joint master’s degree in 2010. The AIA Associates Award is the highest honor AIA can give to an associate member, and Miller is the first Nebraskan and first UNL graduate to earn the honor.
According to the AIA, the Associates Award is given to individual associated AIA members who best exemplify the highest qualities of leadership and have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to their component or region’s membership in the community, professional organizations and the design and construction industries.
“It really means a lot to be recognized at the highest level of the architecture profession by other professionals, and to be the first Nebraskan recognized with this honor,” Miller said. “While the award personally recognizes me, in reality it has been a team effort from many individuals. Without their support, mentorship and guidance, all the crazy ideas, endeavors and meaningful initiatives I have been fortunate to be a party of would not have been possible.”
With an interest in design and building that runs back to his childhood, when Miller would create houses and buildings out of Legos and spend free time designing houses on his home computer, entering the field of architecture seemed like a foregone conclusion. When it came time to pick a college, he chose to stay in Lincoln in large part because of the dual program.
“Having a dual M.Arch/MBA was advantageous when seeking employment after graduating and most importantly differentiated me from my architectural peers. Additionally, it afforded me the opportunity to have an internship with a real estate development firm throughout graduate school, exposing me to another side of the building, design and construction industry,” he said. “I see myself as a creative person, but am also able to integrate this with the pragmatic thinking I learned through my MBA degree. Having an ability to understand business and the numbers side of the profession is not often easily understood in architecture and design.”