College of Architecture, Art and Construction

Clemson architecture alumna wins AIA Young Architects Award


Clemson Master of Architecture (M.Arch) alumna Elissa Morrison’s leadership and dedication to elevating the quality of life in the Lowcountry have earned her recognition from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA recently awarded Morrison the Young Architects Award due to her demonstrated leadership and significant contributions to the architecture profession early in her career.  Morrison was named among only 30 other young architects from across the United States.

AIA’s Young Architects Award recognizes AIA members in the early stages of their architectural careers who have shown exceptional leadership in design, planning, education and service to the profession.

Over the last 12 years, Morrison has practiced at Liollio Architecture in Charleston, where, according to AIA, her project leadership has engaged South Carolina’s diverse communities.

“Most of our work is with public clients and agencies working directly with the communities that the project serves,” Morrison explained. “We strive for every project to be responsive to that specific community, client, program, location, history and culture.”

A Clemson fan since birth, Morrison was introduced to the fields of construction and design at an early age.

“My dad graduated from Clemson with an engineering degree and introduced me to the fields at an early age,” Morrison said. “I shadowed with Sam Herin, the President of the Clemson Architectural Foundation, at SMHa in high school, which inspired me to pursue my undergraduate degree in architecture.”

According to Morrison, when she toured the Clemson architecture studios during college admissions, she immediately felt at home.

“The collaborative and interactive atmosphere was unlike anything I had experienced before,” she explained. “I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this community.”

For Morrison, Clemson’s design-build studios sparked her drive toward community-focused projects.

“In graduate school, I took two design-build studios,” Morrison shared. “The opportunity to participate in the construction of projects that we designed gave me confidence early in my career with a better understanding of materials and constructability.”

Morrison noted that she is deeply honored to be recognized among great young leaders in the architecture community. Her work has ranged from preservation to higher education, community centers and even healthcare.

AIA highlighted the Fort Mill Welcome Center as one of Morrison’s most impactful projects. The center was envisioned as a new front porch to greet South Carolina’s visitors and, according to AIA, encourage them to “sit and stay a while,”

According to AIA, the project responded to local pottery traditions while balancing the client’s desire for low-maintenance and economical regional materials. Since opening in 2017, the center has welcomed more than seven million visitors and helped generate $3.2 million in travel revenue for the state.

“Elissa’s drive to work with Lowcountry communities and make an impact in the lives of each of her clients is astounding,” shared Clemson University School of Architecture Director and Professor of Architecture James Stevens. “Her work not only impacts the lives of the communities she interacts with, but the entirety of South Carolina.”

Morrison explained that if she had one message for aspiring architects, it would be to jump in feet first.

“Jump in feet first! Creating and influencing the built environment where people live, work and play is an honor and a great opportunity,” shared Morrison. “Absorb as much as you can and diversify your experiences so you can find your interests within the profession and beyond. There are so many different career path opportunities with an architecture degree.”

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.