Karla Sierralta, AIA

Karla Sierralta is a licensed architect, educator, and design advocate. Her professional, theoretical, and academic projects address problems of spatial identity in both local and global contexts. In parallel to her academic work, she is co-founder and design director of Strawn Sierralta (www.strawnsierralta.com), an award-winning architecture, and design practice. She also works on public interest design projects through the University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center. In 2020, she was recognized with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching.

Research & Creative Work

Areas of Interest

Research-based Design, Design Fundamentals, Housing, Design Communication, Design Exchanges, Public Interest Design

Professional Experience

Director, Co-founder, 2003 – present, Strawn Sierralta
Studio Associate Professor, 2013 – 2016, Illinois Institute of Technology, College of Architecture
Co-president, Chicago Architectural Club, 2012 – 2014
Adjunct Associate Professor, 2010 – 2013, Illinois Institute of Technology, College of Architecture
Adjunct Assistant Professor, 2007-2009, Universidad Rafael Urdaneta, Escuela de Arquitectura, Venezuela
Adjunct Assistant Professor, 2006-2007, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Architecture
Architectural Designer, 2003-2007, Norsman Architects, Chicago, IL
Teaching Fellow, 2000-2001, Universidad del Zulia, Facultad de Arquitectura y Diseño, Venezuela


Registered Architect, State of Illinois, No. 024955
Venezuela, No. 117747

Recent Design Awards

IIDA Ho’ohuli Maker Award, 2019
AIA Honolulu Design Award, 2019
ACSA “PLAY with the Rules” Pavilion Design Competition winner (one of nine), 2018
AIA Honolulu Design Award, 2017

Selected Media, Press, and Exhibitions

Karla Sierralta’s academic and professional work has been featured in: Hawai‘i Business Magazine, Chicago Magazine, Dwell Magazine, Architectural Record, Architect Magazine, Chicago Sun Times , Chicago Tribune, Competitions Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Dezeen, Fast Company, ABC’s Nightline, Arch Daily, National Public Radio, and others.

Her academic and professional work has also been exhibited and displayed at: Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Mellon University (2019), Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum and University of Milwaukee Wisconsin SARUP (2018), Hawai‘i Convention Center and Hawai‘i State Capitol (2017), Chicago Architecture Foundation (2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2006, 2005, 2004), IIT Institute of Design (2012), Centro de Bellas Artes de Maracaibo (2011), The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago (2007), Chicago Cultural Center (2006), The Chicago Tribune (2005), Taubman Museum of Art (2005), Pavillion de L’Arsenal in Paris (2005),  Joshua Tree High Desert Test Sites (2004), Art Center College of Design (2004), The Graham Foundation (2004) and The World Financial Center in New York (2003).

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications and Presentations

Sierralta, K., Strawn, B. “Hawaii Housing Lab,” proceedings of the 2020 ACSA 108th Annual Meeting: OPEN, virtual conference (ACSA Press, Washington DC).

Sierralta, K., Strawn, B., Buck, B., Weinstein, A. “Density Done Right: Co-designing walkable, sustainable, and equitable communities through digital and analog mediums of public engagement.” EPIC 2019: AGENCY, Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings. Providence, RI.

Sierralta, K., Strawn, B. “Architecture is Competition,” proceedings of the 2019 ACSA 107th Annual Meeting: Blackbox, Pittsburgh, PA (ACSA Press, Washington DC).

Sierralta, K. “Spaces for Peace,” proceedings of the Vol 35 No 1 (2019): The 35th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student: Constructing Context, Situating Design, Cincinnati, OH (NCBDS, University of Colorado Denver).

Sierralta, K. “Draw Story,” proceedings of the 2018 ACSA Fall Conference: Play with the Rules, Milwaukee, WI (ACSA Press, Washington DC).

Sierralta, K., Strawn, B. “Plural Territories,” proceedings of the 2018 ACSA Fall Conference: Play with the Rules, Milwaukee, WI (ACSA Press, Washington DC).

Sierralta, K. “Single Serial: Accelerated strategies for spatial systems thinking in the first-year studio,” proceedings of Vol 34 No 1 (2018): The 34th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student: Time, Cincinnati, OH (NCBDS, University of Cincinnati Press).

Sierralta, K. “Design Accelerator,” 12th International Conference on Design Principles and Practices: No Boundaries Design, Barcelona, Spain, 2018.

Sierralta, K., Strawn, B. “Global Vernacular,” proceedings of the 2017 ACSA Fall Conference: Between the Proximate and the Remote, Marfa, TX (ACSA Press, Washington DC).

Sierralta, K., Strawn, B. “Design Framework for the Built Environment: Hawaii,” International Council of Design World Design Summit, Montreal, Canada, 2017.