Ravindra Gunewardena, FAIA

In recognition of decades of achievements in the field of architecture and invaluable contributions to society

We’re awarding Ravindra Gunewardena, FAIA, because of his achievements and leadership in the field of architecture and his continued contributions to society with pro-bono work, educational lectures, and seminars.

Born in Dehiwala, Sri Lanka, Ravindra is the fifth of seven children born to Shelton and Lorna Gunewardena. In 1968, his family immigrated to the United States, and he completed his Bachelor of Architecture at Cal Poly in Pomona, California, in 1984. In his last year of college, he spent a year abroad studying in Florence, Italy and completed a Minor in Art History. After decades of work, in February 2023, Ravindra was bestowed the title of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), the highest distinction in his profession, conferred on only 3% of its members.

Ravindra and his partner in life and work, Frank Escher, started Escher Gunewardena Architecture in 1996. Their work has earned numerous honors and awards, receiving national and international acclaim. The firm’s extraordinary range of projects reflects their broad cultural interests, and they frequently collaborate with internationally known contemporary artists, consultants, and cultural institutions.

He is an obvious choice for the Lifetime Achievement Award, considering the sheer number of accolades and awards given to him and his firm, which is only magnified by the number of publications his work has been featured in. To summarize Ravindra’s achievements is a daunting task, but a few highlights must be mentioned.

Among his residential projects are the “Jamie Residence” in Pasadena, California, a home lofted above a steep hillside on two columns; the “House with Five Corners” in Los Angeles, California, a five-cornered concrete structure with three stories; and the “House of Seven Screens” in Glendale, California, a home with all-glass exterior walls, made possible by seven steel support screens. Passionate about architectural restoration, the Escher Gunewardena Architecture firm worked on John Lautner’s Chemosphere, the Eames House, and the historic Pilot House.

In addition to his own achievements and awards in the field of architecture, he has dedicated a significant amount of time to educating future artists and architects by giving guest lectures and seminars. Inclusive of his sense of giving, his firm does pro-bono work, bringing the highest level of architectural design to underprivileged communities, where the projects make a distinct impact on generations to come.

Currently, the firm is working on two master plan projects: the Woodland Nature Center, a Buddhist monastery campus and cultural center in the San Gabriel Mountains, and St. Michael’s Campus, a Franciscan monastery and agricultural community in Riverside, California. Both of these projects illustrate Ravindra’s commitment to elevating communities through design.

He has worked with hundreds of children to instill cultural pride and appreciation for the arts of Asia when serving a 3-year term as the Director of the Los Angeles branch of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.

In yet another example of helping a community, Ravindra spearheaded an exhibition of Sri Lankan antiquities at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, titled “The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka.” It was a one-of-a-kind exhibition in the United States, dedicated solely to Sri Lankan art. He curated the art pieces and designed the perfect display environment to house them.

The Sri Lanka Foundation thanks Ravindra Gunewardena, FAIA, for his achievements in the field of architecture, exhibition design, and historic preservation. We are incredibly grateful for all his work in bringing the LACMA exhibit to life and sharing Sri Lanka’s treasures with the world.