DLR Group Principal Matthew C. Johnson, AIA, LEED AP, was recently awarded the coveted Louise Blanchard Bethune Fellowship from the American Institute of Architects. Initiated in 2016, the Louise Blanchard Bethune Fellowship is reserved for retiring members of the AIA Strategic Council, allowing them to continue their service as advisor and ambassador to the organization. Johnson was given this top honor to pay homage to his three-year term on the council. 


During Johnson’s tenure, he supported the national board of directors by forecasting trends and strategies to ensure the profession stays relevant and serves local communities. He worked closely with other council members to develop a strategy to promote the hiring of architects to key leadership roles within city government to lead building and development groups in all aspects of planning — from economic development, zoning, building codes, and more. This effort also aligned with Johnson’s work as an elected city council member for the City of Savage, Minnesota.


“It is an absolute honor to be a recipient of the Louise Blanchard Bethune Fellowship, and to be recognized by my peers and colleagues in the AIA,” said Johnson. “It is important that cities have access to the best tools in the industry. The design approach goes beyond a checklist — it should be more fundamental and based on design thinking that benefits our communities.”


Johnson has practiced architecture for more than 30 years, with a primary focus on the design of hospitality, mixed-use, and workplace facilities. Some of his recent work includes the Mall of America’s waterpark expansion, as well as Moxy Hotel properties in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina.


This fellowship is named in honor of Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first American woman recognized as a professional architect and the first female to receive a fellowship in the AIA.