Emerging Professional Award

Emerging Professional Award
The Emerging Professional Award recognizes and honors a junior design leader who has advanced the Interior Design profession and enriched Interior Design in Oregon through their hard work and passion for design. 

Congratulations to the 2021 winner of the Emerging Professional Award: Peter Harrison! Learn more about Peter in his video feature.

Film credit: Videos filmed and edited by Casey Braunger | Quanta Collectiv

Peter Harrison, Assoc. IIDA, LEED AP ID+C
ZGF Architects 

Design Leader: Peter understands the importance of design excellence and makes it a priority in his daily work. He serves his projects and clients in a critical role as a coordinator who finds balance between enduring design and sustainability innovation, creating pathways for new and beautiful approaches to express the value of green materials.

He offers a collaborative approach to his work and an unfailingly positive attitude that brings others along easily, providing the research and insight for fellow designers to make healthier decisions, coordinating meetings to ensure those decisions stick, and stepping up to lead tough conversations with clients and sub-contractors when questions arise.

Peter is unique in his ability to marry strong design goals with progressive sustainability, technical, and performance goals. Since joining ZGF as an interior designer in 2018, Peter has been working tirelessly as the lead materials sustainability researcher for the Portland International Airport main terminal expansion and renovation project. As noted by Sara Tepfer, energy and sustainability consultant at Arup and project colleague, “Peter joined a complicated project fresh out of school and he jumped in with both feet. He has championed materials sustainability, using his curiosity, collaborative spirit, and incredible work ethic to successfully implement an ambitious, research-intensive approach.”

Excelled Growth: Peter brings a growth mindset to every interaction. He understands the importance of details and works painstakingly to ensure the details are correct throughout a project lifecycle, from ideation to documentation. He learns from his mistakes and he understands how to apply lessons learned to the next project at hand. 

Peter’s technical knowledge has grown tremendously over his three-year tenure at ZGF, and he is now a trusted advisor in the construction administration process. He is an excellent source of information for documentation and he is proactive in providing solutions when issues surface. In addition to learning directly through project experience, Peter has earned professional certifications, including LEED AP Interior Design + Construction, Fitwel Ambassador and Living Future Accreditation, to enhance his sustainable design knowledge and, in turn, help educate his colleagues, consultants and clients. 

Above all else, Peter’s growth in his communication skills is unmatched. He is sought after for his ability to liaise with consultants on sustainability goals, always sharing information and best practices that can improve the process for next time. He has stepped up on the Portland International Airport main terminal expansion project to become a leader during calls with external consultants.    

Support and Value: Janel Fausti, Principal at ZGF and one of the leaders of the firm’s interiors practice, says that Peter’s greatest value lies his attitude and his willingness to share everything he knows. Alan Gerencer, Principal at ZGF and another leader of the interiors team in Portland, agrees. He says “Peter’s passions and zest for life are contagious. He never steps away from a challenge, and he is always ready to learn and grow from those experiences.”

As a lifelong learner, Peter constantly looks for new challenges, ideas, and experiences to continue his personal and professional growth and sharing that knowledge through mentorship of others through multiple avenues. As a member of ZGF’s Project Performance Team, a firmwide group focused on advancing sustainability strategies across all offices, Peter frequently shares key learnings on low carbon interior materials. In his role as the Chair of the firm’s internal Young Design Professionals group, Peter oversees the programming and development opportunities for 75 emerging design staff. For the last two years he has served as an onboarding mentor to support new hires and younger staff. He also established robust programming for the ZGF Summer Institute, developing content for how young professionals can get to know firm leadership, implementing a new speaker series, creating walking tours, and managing all staff internship presentations for students to share their ideas and gain visibility for their work. Peter’s leadership and framework for the internship program was so successful it was adopted firmwide and stated by many interns as their favorite aspect of working for ZGF. 

ZGF interior designer Anna Emerson notes, “Peter has improved our work culture and environment with his positive approach to life, engaging personality, and his infectious laugh.” 

Community Involvement: Peter is passionate about helping his community. As a young professional himself, he is particularly interested in building the connection between the student experience and professional practice. 

He is currently serving as Vice President of Student Affairs for the IIDA Board of Directors until 2023. Previously he was the Director of Student Affairs from 2019-2021, where he planned and executed the programming and events related to students, educators and campus affairs. 

Peter is also active in the Portland Materials Transparency Collaborative Leadership Group. As an advocate for greater materials transparency, he plans and coordinates monthly discussions focused on how materials can support human health, social health and equity, ecosystem health, climate health, and a circular economy. Peter not only seeks out knowledge from the design community in his quest for professional development, but he also provides tremendous insight and value for others to do the same. 

Just earlier this month, Peter created an internal report for ZGF employees on how to use a new Climate Toolkit for Interior Design that helps AEC professionals design lower-carbon interiors. He joined multiple hours of sessions over the last six months as part of a “hackathon” to develop the toolkit, which was just launched by Metropolis Magazine.  

View the 2020 winner here!

View the 2019 winner here!

View the 2018 winner here!

View the 2017 winner here!