Jeffrey G. Butts, Jr., Associate AIA

In the Pursuit of Architecture

It was an April spring day in my beloved hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia that I arrived into this world ready to paint the town red. At an early age I was enamored with buildings, skyscrapers mostly. I would gaze upon them on television totally mesmerized, and while on excursions through 1990s downtown Norfolk, marvel at their mass and scale. When I was a child, I used to build my own cities: inspired by the perfume and lotion cream vessels organically scattered along the bureau in my parent’s bedroom, I would strategically displace and rearrange them to mimic the skylines of New York and Chicago; in the kitchen, I would raid the pantry and stack all the canned food all about the floor, naming this stack “Capitol Building”, and that stack “Apartment Building”, and that other stack “The Bank”. And by the age of seven, I had my first visit to the Big Apple—my world was forever changed.

Flash forwarding twenty years later, I’m now surrounded by others who share that deep love of the built environment and the edifice. Thinking back to preadolescence when I first learned of “architecture” as something to do when-I-grow-up, to me at the time, being an architect was synonymous with being God: I thought it to be the role of a creator, a destroyer, a master of imagination manifest; it defines and articulates the space of man—after all people need places to sleep, eat, learn, work, and play somewhere, and I intuited that being an architect gave access to creating these environments for the world.

In the pursuit of architecture, life, insofar, has granted me two watershed experiences: an education at an HBCU and the gift of seeing the world.

I studied architecture at Howard University, an immensely active HBCU in our nation’s capital, and a very rare and highly prized experience I savor to this day, learning within the craft and life experience of majority-black industry trailblazers of an earlier and very determined generation of underrepresented architects and designers. It was also the first time that I hadn’t felt like a “minority”, that simply I felt like a person among people and not merely viewed as a minority demographic. As a student-leader, I was very active in our school’s chapter of NOMAS (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students), serving as vice president and president consecutively, and where I was connected to many other underrepresented professionals within the industry.

It is also because of the study of architecture that I have been granted the privilege to sojourn the corners of this world: touring much of Italy as part of a design class, studying architecture abroad in Scandinavia, employed architecturally in India for nearly half a decade, and recently sent to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the AIA. “Oh, the places you will go” in the name of architecture.

The uniqueness of my education at an HBCU, coupled with my serendipitous life in India, brought to fruition a latently developing passion for collective-based collaboration—collaboration, literally, on anything random yet creative. Within and around the practice of architecture, I crave for collective, group-centric teamwork that specifically addresses issues and ideas around the built environment: as an architecture student, I lead NOMAS and instituted new programs and k-12 mentorship ventures; while in cosmopolitan India, I founded Paramorphous, an art and design think-tank collective—serving also as an ideas sandbox where I could “ideate” and hatch-up design experiments with other buzzing creatives; and now, not long back home in America, I needed to gather ‘round a collective mind again, and soon began the revival of our local Young Architects Forum—and now serving as the newly appointed Regional Associate Director for the Region of the Virginias, and with great plans to advocate for the advancement of our emerging professionals! Oh, the things you will do, in the name of architecture.

Having reintegrated back within my hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia after a decade-long estranged absence, I am empowered to bring my life experiences and rising passion of the built environment to the reimagination of my native city’s future; being appointed to the City of Portsmouth’s Downtown Design Committee has been one big way to get started. One of my current colleagues at Hanbury, and a rising star locally, had once shared in a public talk that it is our responsibility (as emerging professionals) to “feed the loop” of local innovation in the industry by simply bringing our talent back home and engage with our community.

In this pursuit of architecture, and as an emerging professional myself who has returned to his native town, I share in my colleague’s request and encourage those who have left the nest of Hometownsville to come back and reexamine, reimagine and re-excite the possibilities of your native city. The places we grew up can certainly use our architectural love. “Oh, the places we will go” …back to, in the name of architecture.

Jeffrey G Butts, Jr., Associate AIA
Hampton Roads, Virginia

Zakiya Toney, Assoc. AIA

Zakiya Toney, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, is a proud graduate of North Carolina State University (BEDA, 2015) and Morgan State University (M.Arch, 2017). She is an architectural intern at Clark Nexsen’s Roanoke, Virginia office and works primarily on federal and local public safety training facilities. Since graduating, she has been concentrating on getting licensed early in her career and encouraging her peers to do the same.

In 2017, Zakiya was awarded the AIA Fellowship of Emerging Leaders and selected for the prestigious Alpha Rho Chi Medal by Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning faculty. This year, Zakiya is a scholar of the AIA Virginia Emerging Leaders in Architecture Class of 2019. Her interest in the AIA Virginia ELA program stems from her interest in how the architectural profession engages with social responsibility. She believes that “when architecture functions well, it is not a part of a campus or block, but rather an ecosystem; where it lives and dies by way of its connection to the community.” Zakiya is looking forward to this year’s class project and the opportunity that it presents for community impact.

In addition to being a member of AIA Blue Ridge, Zakiya is an actively involved member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). As an executive board member of her local chapter, Zakiya is using her passion for advocacy and mentorship to increase awareness of the profession with underrepresented middle school and high school students through NOMA’s signature Project Pipeline Camp.

Katherine Williams, AIA

Katherine Williams, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP is a native of Virginia and grew up in Chesterfield. Her introduction to architecture came at a Girl Scout career fair in elementary school. Encouraged by her mother, Williams attended various design camps to learn about the design industry and the profession. Following her graduation from Howard University, Williams worked in architecture firms in Virginia. She worked on projects in historic preservation, municipal facilities, and adaptive reuse.

When an opportunity arose to do work that was community centered, Williams took it and moved to the west coast to become a Rose Architectural Fellow. There she was a Project Manager at the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation. Her primary role was as client representative for the construction of an affordable condo project and predevelopment of new projects. Williams currently manages construction for commercial office projects in Northern Virginia.

Outside of the office, Williams has served on the AIA Richmond board, as a Girl Scout troop leader, as editor of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) magazine, and chair and member of the American Institute for Architects Housing and Community Development Knowledge Community advisory group. She has been published and presented at numerous conferences over the past 15 years. She was a recipient of the 2013 NOMA Founders Award and the 2016 AIA Virginia Emerging Professionals award.

As one of 450 (as of 01/15/2019) African American licensed women architects in the US, about .4% of all US licensed architects, Williams has a unique perspective that is not always represented in mainstream media. Very little research and statistics exists on what these women are doing in their career, and how to increase this number. She helps track the statistics and write about the numbers. Most recently Williams has been working on the Black Women in Architecture Network with others. The effort has included organizing an annual brunch in DC for black women in the profession for the past three years to offer a place for women to network with each other.

Williams works to provide excellent buildings and spaces for clients, as well as, support for others building their careers.

Burchell F. Pinnock, AIA, NOMA


Born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, Burchell Fitzgerald Pinnock
(known as Burt to everyone but his mother) fell in love with architecture at
an early age. In the years since his passion for the built environment has
created award-winning work, meaningful community impact, and a thriving
career forged with vision, strong relationships, and a desire to lead.

Educated in architecture at Virginia Tech, Burt began his career at Hardy
Holzman Pfeiffer and Associates in New York before stints at Il Laboratorio
SNC in Rome, Berngeer Quaglia Architetti in Lugano, Switzerland, and the
famed Santiago Calatrava in Paris. Upon his return to the States, Burt
began his tenure at Baskervill in Richmond, where he currently
serves as Principal. In 1999, Burt and colleagues Anne Durkin and Mary
Lorino founded BAM Architects LLC with a focus on community-driven
design. BAM and Baskervill merged in July 2013.

With an approach to design that is both forward-thinking and historically
sensitive, his work is rooted in the belief that architecture can provide
not only solutions to cultural challenges but true social change in
our communities. His award-winning portfolio includes a variety of
master planning, commercial, residential, and adaptive reuse work for
clients such as the City of Richmond, Slave Trail Commission, Capital
One, Virginia Tech, and the Black History Museum, to name a small few.

Burt was honored with the Award for Distinguished Achievement by AIA Virginia in 2013.

Kevin Jones, AIA


Throughout his nearly 15-year career, Kevin Jones, AIA, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, has pursued rigorous design work, robust community engagement, and mentorship of young designers.

As a member of the leadership team for AIA Blue Ridge, and as a current and former member of design-focused groups like Beer+Design and Modern Richmond, Kevin has made communicating the value of architecture an integral part of his extracurricular pursuits. (Just ask his wife and kids, who are frequently ‘invited’ along on these “architect–nerd” adventures.)

Kevin’s early interest in community-engaged design was solidified as a member of the 2012 AIAVA Emerging Leaders in Architecture program. Since then, he has worked as a practitioner and teacher with a variety of community and student teams in support of rural and urban communities throughout the state.

Kevin works to introduce real-world scenarios and community-focused experiential learning opportunities into his courses at Virginia Tech. In the studio, this has manifest with design-build collaborations with the music department as well as the introduction of client voices to studio critiques. Last spring, he turned the professional practice course into the “Spatial Practice Lab.” This effort saw student teams engaging questions of practice (fees, schedules, communication, etc.) by designing real projects for members of an under-served neighborhood in Roanoke. Learning architecture by practicing architecture.

Kevin has also been faculty co-leader of the Malawi Studio – a vertically-integrated studio of undergraduate and graduate students working collaboratively with faculty to realize a singular work: a new campus library for the University of Mzuzu in Malawi, Africa. In collaboration with architects in Malawi, the project is slated for construction in 2019.

Maggie Schubert, AIA


A native of a small town in the Virginia Piedmont, S. Maggie Schubert, AIA, received her Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech in 2008. During her collegiate studies, Maggie received the Lucy and Olivia Ferrari scholarship and was awarded the opportunity to study at the Center for European Studies in Architecture in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Also while at Virginia Tech, Maggie studied for and successfully completed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) exam. Virginia Tech’s missions of learning, discovery, and engagement through its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) guides Maggie to strive to serve others to promote positive change and to build a better community through the work of the profession. She’s a graduate of AIA Virginia’s Emerging Leaders in Architecture program, the recipient of AIA Richmond’s Richard L. Ford Award and the AIA Virginia Emerging Professional Award.

In 2014, as AIA Virginia celebrated 100 years at it’s Centennial Luncheon at the Jefferson Hotel,  Maggie was asked to Toast the Future of the profession which she used as a call to action:

“We must redefine architecture’s place in the community and continue
to evolve in the way we present ourselves to the public. We must have
courage to face vulnerability and imbalance, and strive for diversity in our profession to better reflect the demographics of our society.

I ask that each one of us continue to be the visionary, so that we may
create a common language and a common goal … may we as leaders
and emerging professionals continue to have the passion and courage to create design that inspires to make our vision for resiliency a reality.”

Maggie has championed the evolution of the architecture profession through leadership, education, mentorship, and her service as the voice of emerging professionals in the Commonwealth. Her work will help to define the trajectory of the profession for years to come.

She has served on the AIA Richmond Board of Directors, as co-chair of the Young Architects and Interns Forum, and as chair for Richmond Women in Design. Schubert’s leadership and passion for the profession continue beyond her local chapter as well. She has served as Associate Director on the AIA Virginia Board and chaired AIA Virginia’s inaugural Art of Practice conference.