On September 29th, AIA Virginia held its “Blueprint for Better Communities” Dinner in Norfolk. Created in 2019, this initiative is centered on a simple concept of bringing together architects and community influencers over a private dinner to discuss how we can work together to pursue the city’s vision. Suspended temporarily due to COVID-19, AIA Virginia reconvened our architects with city leaders last month at VIA Design for an inspiring conversation and time of fellowship. Special thanks to Haley Morgan who was instrumental in facilitating the logistics of the event.

Below are some of the key themes and topics that were discussed:

  • Resilience and improved infrastructure must be a focal point of the future.
  • There are many opportunities for architects to use their expertise in the development of solutions to mitigate flooding and sea-level rise.
  • City leaders are looking to architects to make sure the corporate build environment still thrives in the wake of COVID.
  • Through shaping the built environment, architects can lure people to live in Norfolk!
  • The city lacks public community spaces where people can just “hang out”.
  • How do we breathe “new life” into our areas that have intense poverty?
  • City leaders and architects both described the Norfolk as a city of potential, persistence, and partnerships.

Community members in attendance were

The Hon. Kenny Alexander, Mayor, City of Norfolk
The Hon. Martin Thomas, Vice Mayor, City of Norfolk
Larry Filer, City Manager, City of Norfolk
Chuck McPhillips, President, Greater Norfolk Corporation
Rachel McCall, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Downtown Norfolk Council
Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, President, Norfolk State University
Nancy Grden, Executive Director, Strome Entrepreneurial Center at ODU
Lynn Clements, Executive Director, Slover Library

Architects in attendance were:

Donna Phaneuf, FAIA, President, VIA Design
Andrew McKinley, AIA, Principal, VIA Design
Scott Campbell, AIA, Principal, VIA Design
Mel Price, AIA, Principal, Work Program Architects
Georgie Marquez, AIA, Partner, Andre Marquez Architects
David Keith, FAIA, Chief Executive Officer, Hanbury
Paula Loomis, FAIA, Sr. Architect, The Urban Collective
Corey Clayborne, FAIA, Executive Vice President, AIA Virginia