AIA Virginia is pleased to announce the jury for the 2021 AIA Virginia Prize. The competition — which took place over the weekend of Jan. 22–25 — was inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project and challenged students to design a pillar installation for the City of Alexandria’s Market Square. Each school’s faculty reviewed the submissions and sent up to 10 finalists for final consideration by the jury which will be chaired by Rob Reis, AIA. [See the complete jury list below.]
In a new initiative this year, AIA Virginia is convening a post-competition conversation with the students from the 4 schools, the jurors, and designers from the region. The virtual panel discussion takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 16. Register to see the winning submissions, hear jury comments, and join the discussion.
About the Jury
Chair: Robert V. Reis, AIA, Principal and Design Director, Hanbury
Robert Reis is a design principal and design director at Hanbury, providing leadership for the firm in both projects and competitions. His award-winning designs throughout the United States and abroad include a wide range of project types in government, higher education, and corporate-commercial sectors.
Audrey Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum
Audrey Davis has worked at the Alexandria Black History Museum since 1993 and was appointed Director of the museum in 2014. Davis was one of five authors of the History Press book, “African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia: Beacons of Light in the 20th Century” and has served on the Board of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy.
Brad Grant, Professor, Department of Architecture, Howard University
Howard University architecture professor Bradford Grant was named the first Instagram Artist-in-Residence at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in July 2020 and received the 2021 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Distinguished Professor Award in March.
Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet, Design Advocate, Determined by Design
A design chameleon—Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet has the unique ability to tap into the heart of a community and give people a voice through design. With her diverse art and culturally-rich background as well as her multidisciplinary design experience, she is a versatile person who can help partners address any project challenge. Sequoyah has a Bachelor of Art in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College—where she studied studio art, literature and anthropology—as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Moore College of Art + Design. Boutique Magazine recognized her as a 2020 Boutique 18—a rising star in hospitality design.
Chris Lee, FAIA, President, Johnson & Lee, Chicago
(Frank) Christopher Lee’s architectural practice has focused on designs for challenged urban communities. His practice serves as a model for the improvement of design standards that help rebuild social structure and provide architecture that enhances community life. Utilizing an inclusive approach enables the communities to voice their needs, programmatically, aesthetically, and culturally.
Ashley Montgomery, Assoc. AIA, Associate and leader of the Hanbury Resiliency Initiative, Hanbury
Ashley Montgomery, a recent Master of Architecture graduate with five years of experience as a land planning and environmental design project manager, has already left her imprint on the coastal
Inspired by the values and educational mission of APS, the Heights Building serves as a model example for innovative solutions to school design. Green terraces at each floor become an extension of the classrooms, creating an indoor-outdoor learning landscape for both students and teachers — an educational oasis rather than a traditional school setting, addressing the academic needs of the school’s program while forming a vertical community within its dense urban context.
About the Panel
Tony-Saba Shiber AIA | Senior Architect, Designer at Bjarke Ingels Group Daniel Sundlin | Partner, Bjarke Ingels Group Aran Coakley, AIA | Project Manager, Bjarke Ingels Group Andrew Graham, AIA | Senior Associate, Senior Architect, Leo A Daly Dr. Casey Robinson | Principal, Arlington Public Schools Jason Myers, PE, SE, LEED AP BD+C | Associate, Silman Tyler Swartzwelder, DBIA, LEED AP | Senior Project Executive, Gilbane Jenine Kotob, AIA | Chair, AIA Northern Virginia CAE
The structural masterpiece is inspired by the values and educational mission of APS and serves as a model example for innovative solutions to school design. Green terraces at each floor become an extension of the classrooms, creating an indoor-outdoor learning landscape for both students and teachers — an educational oasis rather than a traditional school setting, addressing the academic needs of the school’s program while forming a vertical community within its dense urban context.
The panel discussion features speakers from Bjarke Ingels Group, Leo A Daly, Arlington Public Schools, Silman, and Gilbane.
About the Panel
Tony-Saba Shiber AIA | Senior Architect, Designer at Bjarke Ingels Group Daniel Sundlin | Partner, Bjarke Ingels Group Aran Coakley, AIA | Project Manager, Bjarke Ingels Group Tim Duffy, AIA, LEED AP, CSI | Vice President, Leo A Daly Andrew Graham, AIA | Associate, Leo A Daly Dr. Casey Robinson | Principal, Arlington Public Schools Jason Myers, PE, SE, LEED AP BD+C | Associate, Silman Tyler Swartzwelder, DBIA, LEED AP | Senior Project Executive, Gilbane Jenine Kotob, AIA | Chair, AIA Northern Virginia CAE
The 2021 AIA Virginia Prize competition kicked off the spring semester by offering students the opportunity to win a $2,000 prize. Three additional $300 “Best of School” prizes will also be awarded. The competition is a design charrette that engages students at all the accredited schools of architecture in Virginia and took place over the weekend of Jan. 22-25, 2021.
The first round of submissions have been juried at the university level and the finalists have been submitted for review by a state jury which will be announced in the coming month.
In a new initiative this year, AIA Virginia will convene a post-competition conversation with the students from the 4 schools, the jurors, and designers from the region. Watch for an upcoming event announcement to see the winning submissions, hear jury comments, and join the discussion.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice includes over 800 steel monuments, or pillars, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place, with the names of the lynching victims engraved on the pillars. A field of identical monuments is in a park adjacent to the memorial. EJI’s Community Remembrance Project invites counties across the country to claim their monuments and install them in the counties they represent. In addition to installing the pillars, EJI encourages participating communities to place a historical marker and to collect soil from the site of the lynchings, to “allow communities to gain perspective and experience that we believe is crucial to managing the monument retrieval process wisely and effectively.”
The 2021 AIA Virginia Prize competition kicks off the spring semester by offering students the opportunity to win a $2,000 prize. Three additional $300 “Best of School” prizes will also be awarded. The competition is a design charrette that engages students at all the accredited schools of architecture in Virginia.
The 2021 AIA Virginia Prize launches on Friday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. and runs through Monday, Jan.25 at 9 a.m.
Development of the competition brief rotates between the four schools annually — the 2021 Prize challenge was developed by faculty at WAAC.
The competition was launched in 1980 and is intended to promote collaboration between the profession, students, and professors in Virginia. Watch for announcement about the winner in the coming months.
Between Oct. 2 and Nov. 6, the profession came together online for a dynamic exploration of design and to celebrate the people and organizations that shape our world. Let us know what you thought about the program by completing this survey.
In an exciting development, we had more attendees than 2019 – and our audience was more demographically diverse across almost every measure.
Here are a few highlights from the programs.
Architecture Exchange East
ArchEx took place over 3 days in November. Day one explored issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Day two did a deep dive into the steps designers must take to address the climate crisis. And, on the last day, we explored the future of the profession through the economy, research, robotics, and resilience.
Design Forum: In Praise of Shadows
The long-awaited Design Forum kicked off with an incredible virtual tour of VCU’s Institute of Contemporary Art on Oct. 29 and was followed by a day-long symposium on light and shadow in design on Nov. 5 headlined by Steven Holl. Although virtual, the program felt somehow intimate.
Visions for Architecture
On Oct. 8, we celebrated the achievements of those whose work makes especially strong contributions to society though our Honors Awards as well as the winners of our Design Awards program. For the first time, we announced them live at the event. The program also raised $7,000 for the Hampton University Scholarship campaign – and we’d love to raise even more! Please consider making a gift as part of your year-end giving.
YAFCON 2020: The Empathic Architect
Curated by emerging professionals from around the state, YAFCON convened a series of engaging conversations about designing with empathy and practicing with intentionality throughout the last week of October.
If you’ve worked in historic preservation, you’ve come across some pretty weird and wonderful stuff. To kick off the re-constitution of Virginia’s Historic Resources Committee, we’re hosting a social event on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. Got an unusual case study? A fascinating discovery? A horror story? Let’s hear ‘em!
Join us to hear strange but true tales from the world of historic preservation and get to know some of your preservation colleagues from around Virginia.
Register online and let us know if you’d like to share a story (or have us share one on your behalf).
AIA Virginia is pleased to announce the 2020 Awards for Excellence in Architecture. Also known as the Design Awards, these honors celebrate projects no older than seven years that contribute to the built environment and are clear examples of thoughtful, engaging design. Award categories include Architecture, Contextual Design, Historic Preservation, Interior Design, and Residential Design. Within each of the 5 categories, consideration was given to sustainability, affordability, social impact, innovation, durability, addressing the natural and built context, and meeting the specific needs of the client.
From a field of 180 entries, only 33 were selected by the jury for recognition. These few projects stood above the rest as particularly notable. A project is recognized with an Honorable Mention for incorporating approaches that advance the profession. Awards of Merit are presented to those project worthy of recognition and an Award of Honor is reserved for those projects deemed by the jury to be truly exceptional.
In the ARCHITECTURE category
The jury considers aesthetics, adherence to the client wishes, proven and projected building performance, and concept development during its deliberations.
Awards of Honor
Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (Blackstone, Va.)
Architecture Firm: KieranTimberlake Owner: U.S. Department of State and the U.S. General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service Mid-Atlantic Region Contractors: Hensel Phelps and Mortenson Construction Photographer: Tim Griffith Drone Photography: AECOM – FASTC Office Rendering: Brooklyn Digital Foundry Jury Comments: This project has inventive qualities. The jury noted that this submission was among the strongest in the category.
Museum at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site / Devil’s Half Acre (unbuilt)
Architecture Firm: SmithGroup Owner: City of Richmond, Va. Consulting Architect, Interior Design: KEi Architects Landscape Architecture: Mikyoung Kim Design Civil Engineering: Greening Urban Archaeology and Cultural Historic Preservation: Gray & Pape Museum Planning and Development: Chora Visitor Experience Planning: Gallagher & Associates Jury Comments: The jury particularly appreciated this design as an appropriate response to the history of the site. They are looking forward to seeing the completed project.
Awards of Merit
The Aya (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firms: Studio Twenty Seven Architecture with Leo A Daly (joint venture) Owner: District of Columbia Department of General Services Photographer: Hoachlander Davis Photography Structural Engineer: Silman Associates MEP Engineer: SETTY & Associates Civil Engineer: A. Morton Thomas Geotechnical: ECS Capitol Services Cost Estimate: TCT Cost Consultants Land Use Attorney: Holland & Knight Archeologist: John Milner Associates Acoustical Engineer: Acoustical Design Collaborative Jury Comments: This is a commendable affordable housing project. There is a nice relationship between façade and volume and the standard dwelling units are well designed.
New River Train Observation Tower (Radford, Va.)
Designers: Virginia Tech faculty and students led by Prof. Kay Edge, RA, and Prof. Edward Becker, Intl. Assoc. AIA Owner: Radford Heritage Foundation Contractors: Edward Becker, Intl. Assoc. AIA and Kay Edge, RA Photographer: Kay Edge, RA Jury Comments: As a prototype, this nicely articulates a collaborative, exploratory research-based process. The team is to be commended.
Greer Environmental Sciences Center at Virginia Wesleyan University (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Architecture Firm: VMDO Architects Owner: Virginia Wesleyan University Contractor: Hourigan Construction Photographer: Alan Karchmer Jury Comments: The commitment to sustainable strategies coupled with the overall quality of the exterior and interior design is notable.
Marvin Gaye Recreation Center + Trail (Washington, D.C.)
Firm Name: ISTUDIO Architects Owner: DC Department of General Services Contractor: MCN Build Photographer: Hoachlander Davis Photography Jury Comments: The jury particularly appreciated the passive strategies. The design team clearly accomplished a lot with this project
DC Water Headquarters (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: SmithGroup Owner: DC Water and Sewer Authority Contractor: Skanska USA Building Inc. Photographers: Alan Karchmer Photography, Emily Hagopian Photography Landscape Architecture: OEHME van Sweden | OvS Structural Engineering: The SK&A Group Associate Architects/Associate Structural Designers: Leuterio Thomas, LLC Associate MEP Engineers: JVP Engineers PC (now part of Ameresco) Civil Engineering: Wiles Mensch Corporation Commissioning: SETTY & Associates Traffic Consultants: Gorovo/Slade Associates, Inc. Program Managers: Samaha Associates, PC Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment Consultant: Studio of Sandra Raan Owner’s Representative: Constance Schwartz Jury Comments: For a municipal infrastructure project on an unusual site, this LEED Platinum water plant was particularly notable.
FutureHAUS (Blacksburg, Va.)
Design Team: Students and Faculty from Virginia Tech Center for Design Research Owner: Virginia Tech Photographer: Erik Thorsen Jury comments: The jury was impressed with this solar-powered, net-positive concept home. It brought together a series of environmental strategies without looking like a pastiche. They also appreciated the plug-and-play cartridge construction which allowed the project to be easily shipped, assembled, and disassembled.
Co|Lab (Falls Church, Va.)
Architecture Firm: William McDonough + Partners Owner and Contractor: HITT Contracting Photographer: John Cole Photography Jury comments: The jury appreciated the lifecycle thinking and the use of CLT, noting that this project was designed for disassembly. “We need more of this,” they said.
In the CONTEXTUAL DESIGN category
The awards for contextual design are chosen based on outstanding architecture that perceptibly reflects the history, culture, and physical environment of the place in which it stands and that, in turn, contributes to the function, beauty, and meaning of its larger context.
Award of Honor
Masoro Health Center (Republic of Rwanda)
Architecture Firm: General Architecture Collaborative Owner: Masoro Health Center Contractor: Structure Stone Photographers: James Setzler, Yutaka Sho, Leighton Beaman Jury Comments: The jury agreed, as a whole, that this project was exemplary — it was their top choice. The site plan, in particular, was very well conceived.
Awards of Merit
American Civil War Museum (Richmond, Va.)
Architecture Firm: 3North Owner: American Civil War Museum Contractor: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company Photographer: Keith Isaacs Associate Architects: Madge Bemiss Architects and Robert Mills Architects Structural Engineer: Balzer and Associates, Inc. MEP Engineer: Lu+Smith Engineers Civil Engineer: Draper Aden Associates Exhibit Designer: Solid Light, Inc. Jury Comments: In the U.S., it’s still a little contentious to bring together glass boxes with historical ruins, and this project does this quite effectively.
Capital Yacht Club (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: Cunningham | Quill Architects PLLC Owner: Capital Yacht Club Contractor: Clark Construction Group, LLC Photographer: ALAN KARCHMER | PHOTOGRAPHER Jury Comments: The jury appreciated this project’s relationship to a maritime motif. The designers did a good job of incorporating the exterior existing fabric into the design.
Carlton Union Building Renovation at Stetson University (Deland, Fla.)
Design Architect/Architect of Record: Hanbury Owner: Stetson University Contractor: Williams Company Photographer: Keith Isaacs Jury Comments: “Talk about contextual,” the jury exclaimed. The design team stitched together a variety of different spaces very successfully.
In the HISTORIC PRESERVATION category
The historic preservation category focuses specifically on excellence in strategies, tactics, and technologies that advance the art, craft, and science of preserving historically significant buildings and sites. The jury takes into consideration adherence to local, state, and national criteria for historic preservation.
Awards of Honor
Carr’s Hill Renovation at University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)
Architecture Firm: Glavé & Holmes Architecture Owner: University of Virginia Associate Architect: John G. Waite Associates Contractor: Alexander Nicholson Photographer: Virginia Hamrick Photography Landscape Architect: Wolf Josey Landscape Architects Jury Comments: This project was really well done. “The details are amazing,” remarked the jury.
Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: MTFA Architecture Owner: Folger Shakespeare Library Contractor: Dan Lepore & Sons Company Photographer: Prakash Patel Photography Jury Comments: This was an excellent example of materials conservation. The cleaning and color-matching are textbook examples of preservation.
Richard Neutra Renovation (Richmond, Va.)
Architecture Firm: 3North Owner: David and Christy Cottrell Contractor: Mako Builders, Inc. Photographer: Ansel Olson Structural Engineer: Ehlert Bryan Consulting Interior Designer: Todd Yoggy Jury comments: Though this was submitted in a different category, they jury thought this project was notable enough to warrant recognition in the historic preservation category for its respect of the original design and the sensitive preservation of character and materiality.
Note: This project was also recognized with an award in the Residential category.
In the INTERIOR DESIGN category
Interior design projects are judged on mastery of composition, functionality, material and color palettes, and well-integrated adherence to the highest levels of accessibility, health and safety, environmental, and occupant-comfort considerations, standards, and regulations.
Award of Honor
Quirk Hotel (Charlottesville, Va.)
Architecture Firm: ARCHITECTUREFIRM Owner: Quirk Charlottesville, LLC Contractor: Martin Horn Photographer: James Ewing / JBSA & Kate Thompson Jury Comments: Though the spaces vary in scale, there is a consistency throughout. The treatment of the arched windows, the view to the streetscape, the hallway, and the accents: they’re are all well done. “I thought this was just outstanding,” said one juror.
Awards of Merit
McKinnon and Harris Flagship (New York, N.Y.)
Architecture Firm: Architecture AF Owner: McKinnon and Harris Contractor: Tribeca Restoration Photographer: Ashok Sinha Lighting Designer: Ventresca Design Jury Comments: Through embracing the company’s all-white branding, the designers created a very pleasing space, bringing focus to the products in this retail environment. The stair and railing are very nice, as is the detailing. “It’s just beautifully put together,” the jury said.
ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: Gensler Owner: ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture Contractor: Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc. Photographer: Halkin Mason Jury Comments: The jury was impressed by the spirit of landscape carried throughout the building, from the handling of beacon signage focusing on green vegetation at the exterior to the careful handling of rainwater-harvesting and irrigation on the roof.
Potter’s Craft Cider at Neve Hall (Charlottesville, Va.)
Architecture Firm: Studio FIGURE Owner: Dan Potter and Tim Edmond Contractor: Evergreen Builders Photographer: Nick Brinen Photography Jury Comments: This project has a subtlety to it. It’s a really nice retrofit. Instead of tearing things down, the designers showed a balanced restraint – even the lighting isn’t intrusive. “I want to be in this space,” said one juror.
Subterranean Studio (Charlottesville, Va.)
Architecture Firm: mcdowellespinosa architects Owner: Seth and Megan McDowell Contractor: mcdowellespinosa architects Photographer: mcdowellespinosa architects Jury Comments: While hesitant to elevate a project with little natural light, the jury particularly appreciated the lighting treatment and ceiling design which brought an organizing element to this subterranean space.
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: OTJ Architects Client: NCARB Tenant Brokerage and Project Management: Cresa Contractor: Bognet Construction Photographer: Trent Bell Photography Jury Comments: The details on this project are well conceived and history has been incorporated in a clever way. The jury was pleased that NCARB is “walking the talk” and earning LEED Gold and Fitwel certification for the space.
Waterview Condominium (Arlington, Va.)
Architecture Firm: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect Project Architect: Nicole Dejong Owner: withheld Contractor: Peterson and Collins Inc. Photographer: Maxwell MacKenzie Interior Designer: Baron Gurney Interiors Structural Engineer: Tadjer Cohen Edelson Associates Inc. Jury Comments: The jury appreciated the rigor of the ceiling’s folded planes and lighting plan.
Offices for an Investment Firm (Bethesda, Md.)
Architecture Firm: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect Project Architect: Claire Andreas Owner: withheld Contractor: Bognet Construction Photographer: John Cole Photography Interior Designer: Baron Gurney Interiors Jury Comments: “Organizing the offices around the curving steel wall was a compelling move,” the jury remarked.
In the RESIDENTIAL DESIGN category
Aesthetic appeal and functionality are two long-established criteria for home design, as are affordability and resource efficiency. The jury looks at each submission in its totality toward meeting those goals.
Award of Honor
Richard Neutra Renovation (Richmond, Va.)
Architecture Firm: 3North Owner: David and Christy Cottrell Contractor: Mako Builders, Inc. Photographer: Ansel Olson Structural Engineer: Ehlert Bryan Consulting Interior Designer: Todd Yoggy Jury Comments: This was a careful and surgical upgrade to a modernist masterpiece. It was just plain inspiring in its rigor. Exquisite.
Awards of Merit
3131 CBR (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: David Jameson Architect Owner: withheld Contractor: Ally DC Photographer: Paul Warchol Photography Jury Comments: Beautiful clean lines and use of materials.
3333 Q St. (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect Project Leads: Kara McHone and Mateusz Dzierzanowski Owner: withheld Contractor: Commonwealth Building and Design Photographer: Maxwell MacKenzie Architectural Photographer Interior Designer: Baron Gurney Interiors Engineer: Robert Silman Associates Landscape Architect: Campion Hruby Landscape Architects Jury Comments: The use of the open corner facade to orient to the landscape and pool is exceptional. The clever use of glazing, doors, and the site created spaces that flow between interior and exterior.
Franzen House (Bethesda, Md.)
Architecture Firm: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect Project Leads: Sarah Solander and Nicole Dejong Owner: withheld Contractor: Commonwealth Building and Design Photographer: Anice Hoachlander Engineer: United Structural Engineers Jury Comments: Great use of the site section to create high internal volume and views out to the surrounding tree canopies. The balance between the front and rear façades is impressive
Hither Hill Residence (Montauk, N.Y.)
Architecture Firm: ARCHITECTUREFIRM Owner: Withheld Contractor: Forden & Co. Builders Photographer: James Ewing / JBSA Jury Comments: Each building on the site is done with care to proportion and detail and eloquence. The two volumes are carefully and well-sited in the surrounding landscape.
Vapor House (Bethesda, Md.)
Architecture Firm: David Jameson Architect Owner: withheld Contractor: Ally DC Photographer: Paul Warchol Photography Jury Comments: There is a nice contrast between that textured, reflective quality of the cladding and the flat matte panels that define the programmatic volumes. This play between the surfaces helps to breakdown the massing.
Duvall Court (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: KUBE architecture PC Owner: ANND LLC Contractor: OPAL CUSTOM HOMES and RENOVATIONS LLC Photographer: Greg Powers Photography Jury Comments: A very clever project with clean lines. It’s a great model for the development of alley lots.
Alley Armor (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: KUBE architecture PC Owner: Dean Storer & Lamar Whitman Contractor: Milloy Carpentry Photographer: Paul Burk Photography Steel Fabricator: Metal Specialties Jury Comments: This adaptive reuse really works within an existing urban fabric. The small outdoor space is magical. Natural light and perforated and angled-metal and wood slats create privacy and atmosphere – all above a mundane garage.
Renovation 1662 (Washington, D.C.)
Architecture Firm: Robert M. Gurney, FAIA, Architect Project Architect: Claire Andreas Owner: withheld Contractor: Washington Landmark Construction Photographer: Anice Hoachlander Landscape Design: Campion Hruby Landscape Architecture Structural Engineer: United Structural Engineers, Inc. Jury Comments: A bright, clean, and lofty addition to what would be a typical dark and cramped row house.
All entries must be the work of architects who have an office in Virginia or are members of AIA Virginia. The location of projects is not restricted, but any built work submitted must have been completed after January 1, 2012. Un-built work was also considered, as long as it was commissioned by a client as opposed to hypothetical work completed in the mode of research or academic training.
John Henri Spencer, FAIA, has been recognized with the William C. Noland Medal by AIA Virginia for his leadership within architectural education beyond the status quo to create opportunities for generations of architecture students. As the highest honor bestowed by AIA Virginia to an architect, the Noland Medal is intended to honor a distinguished body of accomplishments, sustained over time, spanning a broad spectrum of the profession, and transcending the scope of normal professional activities. The honor is in memory of William C. Noland, FAIA, one of the founders of the AIA in Virginia, its second president, and Virginia’s first member to be elevated to fellowship.
Spencer is a pioneering leader for Black architects in America, a distinguished teacher who influenced thousands of students, and a committed educational administrator who created countless programs, initiatives, and pathways for growth and mentorship. Under his leadership, the study of architecture at Hampton University evolved through focused curricular development, fundraising, and academic excellence–the pinnacle of a 63-year career of service in education, in the public arena, and to the profession of architecture. Spencer was born in Monrovia, Liberia to missionary parents serving at the Suehn Industrial Mission, which influenced his philosophy for teaching, community and professional service and social action. After high school in Huntington, West Virginia, John enrolled in the architectural engineering program at the Agricultural and Technical College (now university) in Greensboro, North Carolina. His education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and, upon discharge, John transferred to Hampton Institute (now University) graduating in 1956 with highest honors.
Spencer joined the faculty of the School of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he co-founded the Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black Students (CCEBS) with support from the Ford Foundation to increase the number of Black students enrolled at the school. The first group recruited by CCEBS arrived in 1968 and of the original 128 students, 90 graduated four years later in 1972–more than the total number of Black graduates of Amherst combined in its 105 years. In its first decade, CCBES recruited and Amherst graduated more than 2,000 Black students. At Amherst, he also led efforts to provide volunteer tutoring for Black students and led the Amherst Human Relations Council and Fair Housing Committee, and established Black history education in high schools that brought about positive change in the town of Amherst and beyond.
In 1970, Spencer returned to the Hampton Institute as Chair of the Department of Architecture, where he encouraged students to look beyond the campus gates and involve themselves in the larger community. Notably, he initiated a student exchange program between Hampton and Amherst, and a broader travel program soon followed, growing out of a need to strengthen the fifth-year planning studio. It began with trips to large American cities supported by alumni who provided housing and meals at no cost. With the support of faculty, Spencer revised and expanded the program to require a two-week travel module to foreign cities, from Europe to Asia, and from Africa to Latin America. Since then, he has always led by example, becoming the first Black architect elected to the National Architectural Accrediting Board, first Black architect appointed to the Virginia Licensing Board, and assuming numerous other local and national positions of influence within the profession.
In his nomination letter, Professor and Dean Emeritus of Howard University, Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA, noted, “His consistent leadership has contributed to the strength of the African American narrative in architecture and has increased the richness and stability of the Hampton University Department of Architecture. If the Noland Medal is the pinnacle of recognition, the contributions of Professor Spencer are nearly unmatched and exceeded most.”
The William C. Noland Medal will be presented at Visions for Architecture on Thursday, Oct. 8 in an online awards ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. The program is free but registration is required.