Greetings Colleagues,

Nick Vlattas, AIA 2016 President AIA Virginia
Nick Vlattas, AIA
2016 AIA Virginia President

As your delegate representing AIA Virginia, it is my pleasure to report on AIA Convention recently held in Philadelphia on May 19-21, 2016, and to also update you on current efforts of the Board of Directors and staff at AIA Virginia.

It was reported that over 20,000 were in attendance at AIA Convention which promoted President Russ Davidson, FAIA, and the convention’s theme of “Imagine+, to celebrate architecture’s unique ability to add value to projects and our continuing drive for new knowledge, fresh insights, and leading-edge skills.”

AIA Convention was an incredible experience filled with a myriad of opportunities to connect and share with people from around the world with a passion for architecture and to gain new knowledge and skills. General Sessions with keynotes by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Neri Oxman, and Rem Koolhaas were certainly a highlight of the convention for me, but also of interest were the business sessions, caucuses, and election, alumni and regional receptions, educational tours, seminars and workshops, AIA Expo, exhibits, Host Chapter Party, AIA Town Hall and Store, book signings, and experiencing Philadelphia.

Of greatest inspiration was the keynote titled “Design at the Intersection of Science + Engineering” by Neri Oxman, an architect, designer, and MIT professor “whose pioneering work explores biologically-inspired fabrication technologies that enhance relationships between designed objects and the environment.”  One person tweeted during her talk “My head is reeling with the potential of growing seamless built form – so inspired by the complex work of @NeriOxman #aiacon16”. I encourage you to watch her recent TED Talk which has scored more than 1.1 million views.

At the 2015 AIA Convention in Atlanta, President Bill Clinton was one of the keynote speakers and it was billed for this year’s convention that we would have another President – Kevin Spacey who plays President Frank Underwood on “House of Cards.” Mr. Spacey canceled the engagement and so Mr. Davidson was pleased to announce that the keynote address was filled by Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing the role of Vice President on “VEEP”.  Being a fan of “Seinfeld”, it was interesting to hear Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interview Ms. Louis-Dreyfus about her career from being a student at Northwestern to her current role on VEEP as well as her current experience of working with an architect to design her personal residence.

Executive Vice President and CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, reported on the success of the institute’s public awareness campaign, “#ilookup”, which has been active on social media, including a film competition, and television ads which reached 125 million viewers during the height of political debates with themes of “working together we can create great things, serve the greater good, and imagine what we can create together.” As part of its digital transformation, AIA has also launched its redesigned website in pilot format which can be viewed here. The website was billed as a “transformation from a stable pyramid to a dynamic network of the 21st century” with fundamental changes, stunning visual layout, greater functionality, faster search, fully mobile, and it is “only the beginning in sharing who we are, what we do and why it matters.”

During the Business Session, the delegates heard updates on AIA’s activities and finances and voted to pass amendments to institute bylaws and passed other resolutions of recognition and appreciation. One resolution of interest resoundingly passed was amending the current “Intern Declaration Policy” to strengthen the Institute’s commitment to its members and the profession to more assertively address its position on the use of unpaid labor. Following speeches by the candidates at plenary sessions and responding to questions at regional caucuses,  the delegates elected Carl Elefante, FAIA (AIA Potomac Valley), Principal of Quinn Evans Architects in Washington D.C., as its 2017 First Vice President/2018 President-elect. Also elected were Bruce W. Sekanick, AIA (AIA Eastern Ohio) as 2017-2018 Secretary and Peter J. Exley, FAIA (AIA Chicago) as 2017-2019 At-Large Director.

The Expo consisted of 170,000 square feet of booths, galleries, and lounges and nearly 800 exhibiting companies showing what’s new in materials, technologies and processes to help us in our practice. Many exhibits displayed the work of talented practitioners who were awarded for their innovation. During the course of Convention, presentations were made to design and honor award recipients including, to name a few, the AIA Gold Medal to Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, the AIA Architecture Firm Award to LMN Architects, and 11 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture. Workshops, seminars, and educational tours were varied and plentiful providing a wide range of choices to feed our hearts, mind, spirit and passion for architecture.

Philadelphia was an excellent host for AIA Convention 2016 providing an inspiring stage for Convention as one of the first planned cities in North America envisioned by William Penn as a “greene countrie towne which will never be burnt and always be wholesome”. The city has produced prominent architects and architecture for centuries which led to many opportunities to explore a rich and diverse urban environment. We enjoyed connecting with our colleagues at the reception of The Virginias and also at the Host Chapter Party with entertainment by actor Kevin Bacon and his band, The Bacon Brothers.

I encourage all of our members, whether you have never been to AIA Convention or if you are a veteran, to consider attending our 2017 Convention which will be in Orlando April 27-29, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.


The next regular meeting of the Board of Directors of AIA Virginia is scheduled for June 17, 2016. Our agenda is filled with important items as we near the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2016, on June 30, 2016. Included in our business is continued work on our tri-annual update to our Strategic Planning process which began in February with a retreat of the Board of Directors and staff of AIA Virginia. The Board will also consider the FY2017 budget with projections for FY2018 and FY2019 as we strive to meet the goal of the elimination of Supplemental Dues. We are evaluating methods to replace Supplemental Dues with revenue from new sources with the goal of providing additional benefits to our members. The Board continues to work on updates to its Bylaws and other Governance Documents.  The Nominations Committee will also be meeting to identify candidates for officers of the Board for the Annual Meeting of the Membership to be held at Architecture Exchange East on November 2-4, 2016, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

In addition on June 17, 2016, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Board looks forward to reporting its progress to the membership during the AIA Virginia Virtual Membership Meeting.

On June 14, we are continuing the initiative to convene a Large Firm Roundtable on a semi-annual basis to gain a better understanding of the priorities and concerns of our state’s largest architecture firms thus informing the AIA Virginia on how it might shape its programs and activities to better serve its large firm constituents, to play a strategic role for the architectural profession by being a sounding board to identify developing issues in our profession, and to provide input and ideas and work with AIA Virginia to ensure the architecture profession is championing design and serving the evolving needs of clients and communities.


As part of the repositioning initiative of the AIA National, the leadership of AIA Virginia, AIA Blue Ridge, AIA Central Virginia, AIA Hampton Roads, AIA Northern Virginia, and AIA Richmond have been collaborating during the last year to meet the goal of ensuring that all AIA members receive the services they have a right to expect from AIA. Core Member Services are basic deliverables categorized into seven service areas. AIA national, state and local components all have a role to play in delivering specific services designed to elevate public awareness, advocate for the profession, communicate with members, provide educational opportunities, maintain membership and manage their operations, finances and governance. We are pleased to report that AIA National notified us in May that all components in Virginia were accredited and that AIA Virginia received a three-year accreditation.


We are close to the mid-year point of the service of this year’s Board of Directors and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the Directors individually by name and thank them for their service to AIA Virginia and its members.

William T. Brown, AIA, First Vice President / President-elect; Robert V. Reis, AIA, Vice President / Communications and Outreach; Tim A. Colley, AIA, Vice President / Government Advocacy; Elizabeth A. Reader, FAIA, Vice President / Professional Excellence; Eric Keplinger, AIA, Secretary; S. Jeanne LeFever, AIA, Treasurer; Valerie Hassett, FAIA, Immediate Past President; John A. Burns, FAIA, Director; Al Cox, FAIA, Director; Phoebe A. Crisman, AIA, Director; Robert J. Dunay, FAIA, Director; Robert Easter, AIA, Director; Spencer E. Lepler, AIA, Director; Kelly Olt, AIA, Director; Carolyn Rickard-Brideau, AIA, Director; Damian L. Seitz, AIA, Director; Robert A. Steele, AIA, Director; Fernando Viego, AIA, Director; Daniel Zimmerman, AIA, Director; Gina A. Robinson, Assoc. AIA, Associate Director; Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Executive Vice President / CEO.

The staff of AIA Virginia is also working hard on our behalf and truly worthy of recognition.

Helene Combs Dreiling FAIA, Executive Vice President / CEO; Rhea George, Managing Director; Judy Cheadle, Partnership Advisor; Marshall Dreiling, Education Manager; Shanelle Calvin, Membership Manager; Cathy Guske, Hon. AIAVA, Communications Manager; Keesha Ezell, Director of Finance; Edward Nace, Accounting Assistant; Savannah Ball, Manager of Outreach Programs; Rebecca Lonadier, Manager of Special Projects.


As if you need a reminder, 2016 is an election year and the voices of architects should be heard. Please consider giving to AIA Virginia PAC here, even if it is a small amount, many voices will help us be heard by our legislators.

The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design continues to elevate the public awareness of architecture and design within the Commonwealth through innovative exhibitions, educational programs, and partnerships. Based on a strong belief in our mission and direction, The Cabell Foundation has issued a $500,000 2:1 challenge grant through June 30, 2016.  To multiply your support of the Branch, your consideration of a gift is appreciated. Donate>>


AIA Virginia continues to work hard to bring significant value to our members, provide programs and services which are relevant to our fast-changing profession and to celebrate the prosperity of our members. Our mission is to be the voice of the architecture profession in the Commonwealth, dedicated to serving our members and through a culture of innovation, AIA Virginia empowers its members, advances their value, and inspires the creation of a better-built environment.


Thank you for being a member of AIA Virginia! Leadership from AIA Virginia and local components have made it a point to reach out to our membership by visiting firms across the Commonwealth to share the initiatives of AIA Virginia and to listen to ideas and issues facing our membership. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or suggestions for AIA Virginia.

Nick Vlattas AIA
AIA Virginia President 2016

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