Medal for Eminent Service

Katherine Chia is the co-founder and principal of Desai Chia Architecture. Since 1996, Desai Chia has established a reputation for authentic design, sustainable strategies and the craft of building. Desai Chia’s projects have received numerous accolades, including four American Architecture Awards and six American Institute of Architects Design Awards.

Since graduating from Amherst in 1988, Chia has exemplified distinguished service to the College. The volunteer roles she has assumed are many and varied—for her class, for her fellow alumni, with the Admission Office, as a mentor in the Pathways program and more. Most notably, upon completing a distinguished term on Amherst’s Board of Trustees, she extended her work by serving as an advisor on important building projects. She is currently chair of the Annual Fund.

Together with her family foundation, she has endowed the Frances Chia Scholarship in honor of her mother, helping to make an Amherst education a reality for a new generation of students. A fierce believer in cross-cultural exchange and learning, she has also established the Frances Chia Fellowship, which provides substantial support for students who seek immersive learning opportunities in China.

Chia is co-chair of the Van Alen Institute’s Program Leadership Council and an elected member of the Finance Committee of the NewYork chapter of the American Institute of Architects. She has been a faculty member in the architecture department at Parsons School of Design. Prior to founding Desai Chia Architecture with her husband, Arjun Desai, Chia worked with Maya Lin on numerous architecture and art commissions. She received her master of architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991.