Stay tuned for more updates on the judges!

Winning Exhibition – September 15, 2015

Kaid Benfield
Kaid Benfield is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on how to make cities, towns, and neighborhoods work better for both people and the environment.  Kaid serves as senior counsel for environmental strategies at PlaceMakers LLC, a city and town planning consultancy working across the United States and Canada.  In addition, Kaid is a senior adviser to the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC, and he teaches law, policy, and best practices for sustainable communities at the George Washington University School of Law.  Kaid’s latest book is People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, distributed by Island Press. Kaid was named one of “the most influential people in sustainable planning and development” by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, voted one of the “top urban thinkers” on the leading city planning website,, and named “one of the top 100 city innovators worldwide” by the website Future Cities.


Coleman Coker
Coleman Coker, RA, is director of the Poetics of Building and principal of buildingstudio. He is the Ruth Carter Stevenson Regents Chair in the Art of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Coker was awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and is a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Memphis College of Art and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from there. With forty years of experience in design offices – over thirty years as principal of his own firms – Coker founded buildingstudio in 1999. With the formation of buildingstudio, Coker sought to blur the boundaries between architecture, art, craft and thinking – rather than separate disciplines, each is essential to the larger realm of building. His work has received numerous honors including National AIA Honor awards, Architectural Record, “Record House” awards and P/A Design Awards. Coker has lectured extensively at universities and professional forums and has participated in numerous design juries across the country. His designs have been highlighted in shows in the United States and around the world.

Poetics of Building

Tom Darden
Tom Darden is the Executive Director of the Make It Right Foundation, the organization founded by Brad Pitt to build green, affordable housing on a large scale in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, the neighborhood most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Under Tom’s leadership, Make It Right has worked with 21 pro bono architecture firms to build over 100 homes to date in the Lower 9th Ward, which has become the largest development of unique LEED Platinum houses anywhere, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Tom continually works to fulfill Make It Right’s mission to build Cradle To Cradle-inspired homes, buildings and communities for people in need.

Make It Right Foundation

Monica Pedersen
Monica Pedersen’s enthusiasm for her career as an interior designer and television host is projected in all she does.  In addition to her recent role as an expert judge on NBC’s American Dream Builders design competition show, Monica has been seen as a designer and host on over 90 episodes of HGTV’s hit television series, Designed to Sell, 50 episodes of Bang for Your Buck, HGTV’s Dream Home and Green Home Giveaways, House Hunter’s Great Escapes and in appearances on NBC’s  Today Show, Steven and Chris, The Revolution, Steve Harvey, Fox News and WGN.  She has quickly become a nationally renowned and trusted expert in the world of home design and remodeling. Monica is a spokesperson for the National Home Furnishings Association and serves as a member of the Sustainable Green Furnishings Council, and volunteers her time to the L.O.S.S. Program of Chicago sponsored by Catholic Charities.

Monica's website

Mary Wenzel
Mary Wenzel is senior vice president and head of Environmental Affairs for Wells Fargo & Co.  In this role, Wenzel is responsible for developing strategies and driving organizational change in support of the company’s sustainability efforts.  Areas of focus include environmental philanthropy, operational sustainability, environmental and social risk management, clean technology financing and lending, integration of environmental policies and process into company operations, community development initiatives and customer, and team member engagement, among others. 

Wells Fargo & Co.