The Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Alumni Council and Frances Loeb Library are pleased to honor three students with the 2024 Unsung Hero Book Prize. This year’s honorees are Ashutosh Lohana MDes ’24, Makio Yamamoto MLA ’25, MUP ’25, and Steve Hemmann MRE ’25.

“The GSD is a truly global community, and when we look at our honorees, we see people who are committed to reaching out to others and being there when someone needs them,” said Alumni Council member and award co-chair John di Domenico MAUD ’79. “In a world that is not always cognizant of fellowship, kindness, and selfless acts, we have all the more reason to celebrate our Unsung Heroes.”

Deserving students are nominated for the Unsung Hero Book Prize each spring by fellow GSD students, faculty, and staff, and winners are selected by a jury made up of Alumni Council members and library staff. Prize recipients are recognized with a book of their choice by the Alumni Council and the Loeb Library; the Library purchases a second book for its collection if it is not already there.

“What I love about this award is how it creates a connecting circle between the student body, the GSD alumni, and the Loeb Library,” said Ann Whiteside, Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Services at the Loeb Library. “It embraces the cycle of coming to the GSD as a student, using the library as a student, and joining the ranks of GSD alumni upon graduation. It’s such a pleasure to be part of that circle, and to gain insights into what matters most to our students.”

The three 2024 Unsung Heroes received universal praise from their peers for their leadership, kindness, selflessness, humility, and enthusiasm. Nominators noted that these students routinely went the extra mile to support their peers, create inclusive environments, transcend silos, and model academic excellence.

“It’s such a special moment to see students and alumni coming together, celebrating those who act in selfless ways to make the GSD a better place,” said Alumni Council member and award co-chair Beth Roloff MArch ’14. “I am grateful to the entire community—the winners themselves and the peers who nominated them—for their engagement in this awards process.”

Image: Celebrating the 2024 Unsung Heroes on March 22, 2024. Left to right: Beth Roloff MArch ’14, Alumni Council member and award co-chair; Ashutosh Lohana MDes ’24; Makio Yamamoto MLA ’25, MUP ’25; Steve Hemmann MRE ’25; Ann Whiteside, Librarian/Assistant Dean for Information Services; John di Domenico MAUD ’79, Alumni Council member and award co-chair; and Nicole Santiago, Research, Teaching, and Writing Services Librarian.

Ashutosh Lohana MDes ’24 comes from India. Trained as an architect, he spent the foundational years of his professional career in the sustainable township of Auroville, India, where he gained firsthand experience in the philosophy and techniques of sustainable design. This invaluable experience led Ashutosh to further exploration at the Harvard GSD and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has delved into both theoretical and technical research, focusing on sustainable building methodologies and materials. His work is characterized by a deep interest in the narratives of sites, resource optimization, and human comfort. Grounded in data-driven analysis, he is committed to pushing creative and technical boundaries, contributing to the dynamic landscape of material culture and building technology. Ashutosh has also served in student government as the chair of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging on the GSD Student Forum.

For his book, Ashutosh selected Climatic Architecture: Philippe Rahm Architectes by Philippe Rahm. On receiving the award, Ashutosh said, “In being your home, I found mine. As a firm believer of cultivating spaces where shared moments, creative inspirations, and emotional connections thrive—what I call ‘intangible experiences’—both at the GSD and beyond, this prize serves as an affirmation for me to continue believing in the power and joy of co-growth. I want to dedicate this award to my colleagues, mentors at the GSD, and my parents, whose unwavering support has been instrumental in my journey.”

As a landscape designer, Makio Yamamoto MLA ’25, MUP ’25 plans to tackle issues related to climate change and environmental justice by utilizing landscape architecture’s power to communicate across different communities and viewpoints. He holds a BS in architecture with a minor in landscape architecture from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Steedman Student Travel Scholar and Elizabeth S. Schmerling Endowed Scholar in 2019. At the GSD Makio has continued his pursuit of multidisciplinary work while serving as the co-president of Rural GSD. He looks forward to continuing his work on ecological and political landscapes through his Penny White Travel project “Taking(s) on the Mississippi,” which investigates the legal and infrastructural conflicts present at the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway in Missouri.

For his book, Makio selected Troubled Land: The Social Landscape of Northern Ireland by Paul Graham. On receiving the award, Makio said, “I was really humbled by this award. Hearing what people shared in the nominations made me reflect on the relationships I’ve made here at the GSD. It’s amazing to see these relationships mature and grow, and to know that I’ll have these connections in the future. For me, that’s the biggest honor.”

After graduating from West Point, Steve Hemmann MRE ’25 served on active duty as an officer in the US Army for 12 years. His leadership experience includes graduating from the army’s Ranger School and commanding a Special Forces A-Team (“Green Berets”) during combat operations in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia. After his military service, Steve returned to his hometown, St. Louis, and started a company with his older brother Erik. Their firm purchased and rehabbed 40 properties before Steve joined the inaugural class of the GSD’s new Master in Real Estate (MRE) degree program at Harvard. At the GSD, Steve serves as co-president of the Real Estate Club (HREC). This year he helped manage substantial club growth and also co-chaired the student-planned, student-led Harvard Real Estate Symposium held on campus at the HBS. Steve intends to leverage his leadership and construction background to make quality housing more affordable and take on larger development projects back in St. Louis and beyond.

For his book, Steve selected Grow Your Grit: Overcome Obstacles, Thrive, and Accomplish Your Goals by Colonel David Fivecoat, under whom Steve served in Iraq. On receiving the award, Steve said, “One of the things that I feel very passionate about here at the GSD is that regardless of whether we are planners or architects, designers or developers, everyone at the GSD is a leader. To me, leadership is about giving—and ultimately about unlocking the potential in others. That’s why this award is so meaningful for me. I try my best every day to contribute my fair share to this amazing community of talented individuals. To be recognized as somehow going above and beyond is just really humbling for me. It’s something I never would have anticipated, and I’m very grateful.”