But Then There was One

With the 199th pick in the 6th Round, the New England Patriots select…

Tom Brady. Quarterback. University of Michigan.

In the National Football League (NFL), being drafted at the end of the sixth round is not impressive. It is not something that you brag about. To put it in perspective, the NFL draft has seven rounds and the last pick in the draft (in 2020 it was the 255th pick) is dubbed the nickname, “Mr. Irrelevant”.

R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, NOMA, MBA

Scouts from all over saw Tom Brady and thought that the 6’-4” quarterback was slow on his feet and awkward at best, when running with the ball. So much so, that teams thought there were 198 other athletes that were better. Think about it.

But then there was one.

The scouts and front office executives of the New England Patriots saw something special. They saw a set of innate tools he possessed that could be honed to create an incredibly successful quarterback at the game’s highest level. He became an instrumental piece to the team’s success eventually going to nine Super Bowls and winning six of them. And he is a future member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

I feel like my story as an African American man in architecture is like Tom Brady’s story. It is full of moments that shout: But then there was one.

I have never overly enjoyed recreational reading. It makes me drowsy. Even today, I do not like long emails and prefer briefings and summaries to be one page with bullet points. So, it was no surprise that the first time I took the SAT, I received a 980 score. I took it again and improved by only 100 points. The University of Virginia put me on their waitlist.

But then there was one. Virginia Tech welcomed me with open arms into the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

God did not bless me with the ability to sketch like Charles Piper, AIA [Quinn Evans] or build models like Nick Cooper, AIA [HKS]. My portfolio was mediocre, which may be a stretch. Many marquee architecture firms in Virginia never gave me a look when applying for summer internships.

But then there was one. A+E Collective in Great Falls, Virginia led by Anil Bhatia, AIA and Madhur Khanna, AIA. At the time, a firm of three people gave me a chance at a summer internship and I was determined to not let them down. They will always have a special spot in my heart.

After graduation, I worked at an Architecture/Engineering firm of about 150 people at the time. At an early age, I knew I enjoyed the project management and business development aspect of the business. In this firm, the Project Management department is a vital lifeline of the business – so to be a part of it is a big deal. Nearly all were at least 50 years of age or at least knocking on the door of it. None were black.

But then there was one. The President and CEO called me in their offices and said they were going to promote me into the Project Management department. This happened at the age of 28. And to my knowledge, the first African American to be elevated into that department within a firm that was founded in 1901.

And here we are today. As the Executive Vice President of AIA Virginia – the organization’s chief executive. At one time, this position was held by a gentleman with a PhD for over two decades. His successor was a national figure in architecture and remains one today. Who would be next?

But then there was one. Out of nearly 70 applicants, the Search Committee took a chance on me. At the time, a 35-year-old black male who had never run an association before. And this has been one of the best opportunities of my life.

My career is full of these moments. I could write a novel about it. I am proud to be in the 2020 Class of the College of Fellows: our Hall of Fame.

But don’t forget this:

If you, as firm leaders, are committed to being bold about diversity, equity, and inclusion – then you must provide “But then there was one” moments to those who may otherwise never be exposed to these great opportunities.

With service,

R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, NOMA, MBA
Executive Vice President

New Members

We are always excited to welcome new members to Virginia. The following members recently joined the ranks of AIA Virginia.

New Associate Members

Mr. Andre Barrios, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia)
Mr. Xinghan Chen, Assoc. AIA (Central Virginia)
Ms. Ojima Glover, Assoc. AIA (Blue Ridge)
Leen Hariri, Assoc. AIA (Blue Ridge)
Mr. Jack Littrell, Assoc. AIA (Blue Ridge)
Miss Nupoor Maduskar, Assoc. AIA (Blue Ridge)
RayShawnda McCoy, Assoc. AIA (Hampton Roads)
Mr. Tommy M. Nguyen, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia)
Mrs. SumayiaBinte Samad, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia)
Madison Summers, Assoc. AIA (Hampton Roads)

Transferred In

Ms. Amanda G. LeBeau, AIA (Hampton Roads) from AIA Tennessee
Miss Vanessa E. Poe, AIA (Richmond) from AIA Texas

AIA Virginia Allied Members

Hessam Nabavi, Promotions Director, Virginia Ready Mixed Concrete Association

View all of the AIA Virginia Allied members

Newly Licensed

We understand the dedication and effort required to study for and pass the ARE. Congratulations to the following member for passing her exams and gaining licensure. This is great news that thrills all of us and we are so proud to call you an architect!

Whitney N. McDermott, AIA (Central Virginia)

Have you recently passed the ARE? Upgrade your membership to Architect using this AIA form. or send an email to your Member Services Director, Cathy Guske, cguske@aiava.org

Nick Serfass, FAIA, CAE

Nick Serfass is the Executive Director of the Richmond Technology Council, a trade association representing over 150 companies, that works to support, grow, and celebrate the thriving technology ecosystem throughout Greater Richmond. Nick blends a technical background as an architect with a professional background in association management to design and drive programming at RVATECH that continues to position Richmond as the city of choice for technology practitioners, technology business owners, and technology leaders.

Meet Robert Dale Lynch, FAIA, FAAFS, D-IBFES

  • Registered Architect and Member, American Institute of Architects, 1970;
  • Testimony before a congressional subcommittee of the Judiciary of the US Congress on behalf of AIA to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990;
  • Accessibility Consultant to Architect James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed on ADA compliance at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1993;
  • Pennsylvania Society of Architects Gold Medal Award, 1996;
  • Member 30 years, American National Standards Institute, A117 Committee on Accessible & Usable Buildings & Facilities, 1988-2018;
  • Architect designer of accessibility modifications for over 170 homes, 1974-2019;
  • 12 years, faculty, U of Pittsburgh, School of Health & Rehab Sciences, 1988-2000;
  • Member, AIA National Design for Aging Committee Task Force guiding research at Georgia Institute of Technology for design standards on assisted bathing & toileting for aging & frail persons, 2015-2018;
  • Universal Design Consultant to Perfido, Weiskopf Architects in Pittsburgh for a pedestrian bridge, Western PA School for Blind Children – all students multiply disabled, 2018;
  • Historic preservation & accessibility expert, renovations to Art Deco Style Allegheny County Airport Main Terminal, 2009;
  • Member and Fellow, American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), 3 presentations at national annual meetings on ADA compliance, personal injury, construction & building codes, 2009-present;
  • Expert testimony: 200 legal case reports, 7 depositions, 14 trials, 1974-present;
  • Presentations: AIA nationwide 3-day interactive teleconference on PBS to 5000 AIA members, “Opening All Doors”, 1993; AIA National Convention, Dallas, 1999; 3 presentations to annual meetings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
  • Secretary, Engineering & Allied Sciences Section, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2020-2021
  • Diplomate, International Board of Forensic Engineering Sciences, 2020.

Where did you go to college?
The Catholic University of America, 1959-1967, Washington, DC, Physics and Architecture.

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person?
Yes. The practice of architecture is a personally enriching professional life that can fulfill one’s natural desire for seeking the beautiful while contributing to the welfare, liberty, and happiness of one’s community.

What does it take to be an architect?
To be an architect, one must have a basis of principle and maintain adherence to it; an essential knowledge of and love of human nature and humanity; knowledge of and facility with the aesthetically true, history, spacial conceptuality, science, mathematics, geometry, and drawing by hand.

Was there an architect who particularly inspired you?
Yes. I have reverence for, and am inspired by several:
• Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) combined the flowing, complex beauty of nature in his carving the stone facade with a unique technological insight that forged man’s design on into the birth of the modern skyscraper.
• Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886) conceived design with a deep understanding of historical truth; and, articulated what was, at first, Romanesque Revival, but ultimately owned by him as Richardsonian Romanesque with consistency and strength throughout his all too brief life.
• Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) had a magnificent ability to make the physics and geometry of nature a necessary and intimate component of his design. He glorified man’s architecture by emulating nature, just as did his ancestors, Sullivan and Richardson.

What are you currently reading?
Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court by Hemmingway & Severino; and, Jackson’s Way: Andrew Jackson and the People of the Western Waters by John Buchanan

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Saint Patrick’s Day Dinner of corned beef, cabbage & colcannon prepared by my wife, Anne.

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?
I would volunteer with the AIA in order to share my experience in the practice of the profession of architecture with those who would consider following me so that they may more fully know that the professional path they have chosen is true and proper. I would volunteer so that they who follow may proceed to utilize and benefiting from my experience. Though my direct participation in the College of Fellows as an organization has been limited, I have continued my practice in the same vein and for the same reasons that I was elected back in 1996. I continue to contribute to my community simply as a good architect.

Meet Randy Holmes, FAIA

Where did you go to college?
I attended UVA Undergrad (1979) and also UVA Grad School (1982)

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person? Absolutely. It is a wonderful major with many options for how to apply architectural training to various career paths. Architectural training can take one towards a more traditional route of designing buildings to newer forms of a career like CAD modeling, gaming, or other types of application of design training.

What does it take to be an architect?
It requires perseverance, faith, enjoyment of the creative process, good listening skills, and respect for collaboration and leadership…..many more qualifiers could be added, however, the great thing about architecture is that it can utilize a wide variety of abilities within the profession. Most important, it requires a commitment to the built environment and the elevation of people’s experience of it.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?
There are many. As one who appreciate history, I value Vitruvius, Alberti (and many other Renaissance Architects), Wren, Lutyens, Cram, McKim, Mead and White, Carrere and Hastings, Bottomley, and others from around the turn of the 20th century. I was mentored by Jaquelin Robertson who heavily influenced the start of my architectural career and he introduces me to people like Leon Krier, Demetri Porphyrios and Andres Duany, and Liz Plater Zyberk. I collaborated on one project with Quinlan Terry who was influential to me. Jim Glave was a longtime mentor and friend. Robert A M Stern and his firm have always been an inspiration to me.

What are you currently reading?
The Future of the Past by Steven W. Semes. I just finished On the Road with Saint Augustine by James K. A. Smith which was fantastic.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
That’s tough. I like many meals (my waistline is proof of the fact). It is often the combination of food and atmosphere that makes meals memorable to me. I just returned from Jamaica where a group of my friends, my wife and I sat on a point, looking out on the sunset over the ocean and had a fabulous meal of fish, vegetables, bread, and wine….these kinds of experiences seem to make the best meals to me.

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?
Because AIA is the architect’s advocacy group and our only large, national, professional association. We must make it as strong as we can and so volunteering is one way to make a small contribution towards that aim.

John Dorlini, AIA, CID, LEED BD+C

John Dorlini embodies the holistic design approach by holding Virginia licenses in Interior Design, Architecture, and Contracting (Class A). He co-owns CIRCLE Design Studio with his wife Theresa, founded in 2005 as a private development company in Staunton, but now operates in Roanoke as a six-person design-build firm and generalist practice serving as prime or consultant in many sectors: residential, multi-family, hospitality, retail, healthcare, higher ed, ecclesiastic, and corporate.

With a specialty in clean-lined modern aesthetics, CIRCLE is the recipient of 37 Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEAS), and four-time winner of Brightest IDEAS, for the Virginia/ West Virginia chapters of ASID and IIDA. In 2020, John was named to the Sun Devil 100, awarded to the fastest-growing businesses owned by Arizona State University alumni.

John received his MArch at ASU and a B.S. in Art and Interior Design at James Madison University. John is currently Visiting Professor at Virginia Tech teaching third-year interior design studio. Prior work stints include RRMM Architects, VMDO Architects, Andrea Clark Brown Architects (Naples, FL), and a summer internship with Daniel Libeskind in Berlin. John was LEED administrator for the first LEED Gold school in Southwest Virginia, Masons Cove Elementary School (Roanoke County).

AIA Virginia Newsletter: May 2020

From the President’s (at home) Desk
Now that most of us are working remotely, we’re bound to feel a little isolated. There is a way, however, to connect with other architects across the Commonwealth, and it’s through the AIA Virginia Roundtables.

Call for Entries: 2020 Design Awards
AIA Virginia’s Design Awards recognize outstanding design, built and unbuilt, from the past eight years. Submit your projects today.
Learn more>>

Help Us Keep our Next Generation of Architects
Join our new initiative to connect the graduates of Virginia’s Architecture Schools to architect members.
Read more and sign-up here>>

PPP Funding Management + Getting Back to Work
Please join us for an interactive virtual panel discussion with O’Hagan Meyer Attorneys + Advisors and the Virginia Society of CPAs to discuss properly tracking and managing your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.

YAF Summer Design Challenge
YAF Hampton Roads presents a design competition that challenges students to collaborate and innovate on an unbuilt conceptual project in Norfolk.

Foresight 2020
Architecture Exchange East. It’s our reunion, research lab, Academy Awards, election day, and graduation ceremony, all rolled into one annual, three-day event. So, what’s it going to look like this year?
Learn more>>

Call for Nominations: 2020 Honors Awards
Do you know an individual or organization that deserves recognition for their contributions to the built environment? Nominate them for an Honor Award.
Learn more>>

Virtual SAP Training
Have you always wanted to join us for Safety Assessment Program training? Now you can from the comfort of your desk.

Contribute to the Equity Issue of Inform
Are you an expert in accessibility, universal design, or affordable housing? Do you have insights to share on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession or the built environment?
Become a contributor>>

New Members
Please help us welcome these new members to the AIA as architects and associate members, transfers, and AIA Virginia Allied Members.

Re-Opening Resources for your Clients
As states are beginning to reopen for commerce, your clients may be seeking additional guidance. Go to our COVID-19 resource page for resources we have been collecting that address various business types and industry sectors.

Get to Know These Young Leaders
We asked members of the 2020 ELA class the same five questions. Here are their inspiring answers.

Associated Thoughts
As an emerging professional, are you feeling out of the loop? Michael Spory has tips and tricks just for you.

Designing with Insulated Metal Roof Panels
Join us online for a free webinar at noon on Wednesday, May 20, and earn 1 HSW credit.
Reserve your space>>

Combined Event Calendar
Looking for one place to find all the free webinars and architecture events in the region? AIA chapters across Virginia and West Virginia are contributing to a combined calendar on Inform Magazine.

Gubernatorial Appointments
Submissions are due to AIA Virginia Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, FAIA by 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

Don’t Trash those Old Issues
US Modernist is seeking a few old issues of Inform Magazine and Virginia Record to complete the publication archive. If you’re cleaning and purging like many of us, keep an eye out for these issues. (They’ll pay for the shipping)

Economic Outlook
On May 20, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker will share results from April’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI). Register for this 30-minute webinar on AIAU.

NAC Mentorship Survey
The National Associates Committee’s (NAC) Mentorship Workgroup is looking for associate and architect members to respond to a short survey.
Take the Survey>>

Meet the Fellows
Meet one of the newest Virginia members of the College of Fellows.

O’Hagan Meyer – free legal consultation
AIA Virginia and O’Hagan Meyer Attorneys + Advisors have partnered together to provide up to 30 minutes of Employment Law Counseling for AIA Members during this time of uncertainty regarding COVID – 19.

New Architect
Congratulations to the following member for passing his exams and gaining licensure.

ELA Class Member wins Pella Prize
The 2020 Pella-sponsored Undergraduate Thesis Prize winner is Christopher Cheng from Virginia Tech.

Building Safety Month
This year’s theme is “Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World” and the weekly themes include disaster preparedness, water safety, resiliency/sustainability/innovation and training the next generation.

Highlights from the April Board Meeting
Read about the decisions made and items discussed at the last meeting of the AIA Virginia Board of Directors.

Initiative: Reach, Retain, and Develop

AIA Virginia is launching an initiative to connect our members with architecture students graduating in May 2020 from Virginia schools of architecture.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor to a graduating student, click here to sign-up.

Many of those graduating from Virginia’s schools of architecture this year are facing an unprecedented time in the world. A global pandemic has ravaged the economy, unemployment numbers are currently bleak, and companies are in survival mode. A number of architecture firms have frozen hiring or delayed starting dates. Quarantines and stay-at-home orders have shifted most of our interactions to a virtual space which makes it incredibly difficult to meet new people and form meaningful relationships.

This operation seeks to facilitate building these new relationships by connecting our recent architecture graduates with our AIA Virginia members. AIA Virginia has an approximate pool of 2,300 members to select from to begin building the match-making database. The goal of the AIA is to keep these emerging professionals engaged and connected to the profession. We will call our members who participate Hosts.

Until the public health crisis dictates otherwise, it is envisioned that the recent graduate and Host will engage virtually. The goal is to meet twice per month with this emerging professional, but under no circumstance, commit to not less than once per month. All coordination will be the responsibility of the Host and graduate.

Desired Outcomes:

  • Through these forged relationships, keep recent graduates engaged in the profession of architecture during the recovery phase of a global pandemic and troubled economy
  • Assuming personality chemistry is formed, these relationships become long-term friendships which is beneficial for career growth and exposure to career opportunities
  • Good people know good people. Through these relationships, expose these emerging professionals to other AIA members thus expanding their professional network
  • Keep recent architecture graduates in Virginia so that the profession and our own communities can reap the benefits of their contributions and leadership

Below are some activities for consideration to occupy any given meeting or a series of meetings:

  • Facilitate the transition to AIA membership (free for graduates)
  • Get to know each other
  • Align on goals and priorities for the mentoring partnership
  • Provide support and guidance for new graduates as they pursue licensure
  • Portfolio and resume review and critique (even invite other Architects)
  • Mock interview (or real) and critique
  • Share about current firm culture, working environment, and projects
  • Invite the graduate to a virtual team meeting
  • Attend an AIA component virtual event together
  • Attend a virtual lunch and learn together and then discuss

If you are interested in becoming a mentor to a graduating student, click here to sign-up. The deadline to sign-up is May 27th.

Are the Kids Alright? read an article by AIAS President Curry, The Current Student Perspective

Member Insights Report

Member Insights Report

Insights gained from member calls May 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY