The Echoes of Whitney M Young, Jr.

During his address to the 1968 AIA National Convention, civil rights leader Whitney M. Young, Jr. challenged the architectural profession to pursue more progressive values.

“One need only take a casual look at this audience to see that we have a long way to go in this field.”

“You are not a profession that has distinguished itself by your social and civic contributions to the cause of civil rights . . . You are most distinguished by your thunderous silence.”

Robert Easter in a purple shirt holding an architectural model encircled by 4 students

In 1972, the AIA established a national award in his memory. That award distinguishes an architect or organization that embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue, such as affordable housing, inclusiveness, or universal access.

The 2023 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award was bestowed upon Robert L. Easter, FAIA – a member and Past-President of AIAVA – in recognition of his enduring commitment to advancing those individuals who have traditionally been underrepresented in the profession of architecture.

On the 17th of February, during Black History Month, Virginia State Senator Ghazala Hashmi sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 373 in which the General Assembly commends Robert L. Easter, FAIA for having received that award. Read the resolution here: SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 373

I am convinced that Whitney M. Young, Jr.’s challenge still echoes. I am convinced that Robert L. Easter’s advocacy and activism was spawned, to some degree, in response to the echoes of Young’s challenge. I am convinced that there is an echo to be heard as a result of Easter’s actions. I am convinced that there are echoes emanating in response to those actions. I am convinced that we should not ignore those echoes. I am convinced that we can no longer feign deafness to those echoes.

Let us resolve to take the time – and the action – to encounter the great symphony of those echoes. To do what we can not only to amplify those who need to be afforded a voice, those whose voice demands attention, and those whose voice cries out for justice, but also to amplify those whose voice suggests a way to acknowledge injustice, to rectify wrongs, to prevent injustice, and to progress towards a more just and inclusive profession.

Let us be bold enough to listen to the echoes. And let us add our voices to that choir.

Paul Battaglia, AIA
Executive Vice President
AIA Virginia

Reis Elevated to Fellowship

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is elevating one AIA members from AIA Virginia to its prestigious College of Fellows, AIA’s highest membership honor, for their exceptional work and contributions to architecture and society. Less than three percent of the architecture profession achieve AIA Fellowship.

The fellowship program was developed to elevate those architects who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession and made a significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level. Architects who have been elevated to fellowship can be identified by the designation FAIA after their name.

Included in the list below are the newly elevated members from AIA Virginia:

• Mr. Robert V. Reis, FAIA

Visit AIA National’s website for more information on the College of Fellows or to view the complete list of newly elevated architect fellows.

ArchEx ’23: Call for Presentations

Architecture Exchange East is bringing together the brightest minds and most engaging speakers for AIA Virginia’s annual reunion of the profession.  And, we think you should have a seat at the table (or lectern, as the case may be). We’re seeking polished presenters as well as fresh voices to share their research and expertise at ArchEx ‘23 in person in Richmond on Nov. 1–3, 2023.

We really value sessions that encourage conversation, connections, and collaborative learning. Think workshops, roundtables, tours, and interactive panels. Many of our session slots will be 60 minutes, but we’ll also reserve longer time slots for more in-depth explorations. All confirmed speakers will receive a 50% discount on conference registration.

Help us design the best ArchEx experience yet — submit a proposal.    

Deadline is April 14. The proposal form is below.

2023 Prize Challenge Released

The 2023 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 enrolled in accredited architecture programs in Virginia over the weekend of Feb. 10-13, 2023.

See the competition brief.

AIA Virginia Names New Executive Vice President 

AIA Virginia welcomes Paul R. Battaglia, AIA as its new Executive Vice President. Battaglia, an architect and member of the American Institute of Architects, brings extensive experience in non-profit leadership to the organization. 

“I am eager to get to work with the organization that is the voice of both architects and the profession of architecture, and to collaborate with members of the Board of Directors and my staff colleagues to achieve the objectives of our strategic plan,” says Battaglia. “AIA Virginia acts across – and beyond – the Commonwealth to represent and refine the capabilities of the profession.”

Most recently, Battaglia served as a Principal at Clark Nexsen in Virginia Beach, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he held positions in several private architectural practice settings as well as in academic appointments for Hampton University, NC State University, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Battaglia has served in a leadership role for number of community-centered foundations and not-for-profit boards including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Virginia MoCA), the Sandler Center Foundation, the Tidewater Community College Educational Foundation Board, the Greater Norfolk Corporation, and the Virginia Sea Grant External Advisory Board. For AIA Virginia, he presently chairs the Large Firm Roundtable and the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. Battaglia lectures extensively across the state and around the country, often serving as a visiting juror for various schools of architecture. He received his Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture from Virginia Tech.

“We are thrilled Paul has decided to transition from private architectural practice to association management as he assumes the role of EVP. He brings vast experience and expertise in architecture and design, community engagement & outreach, and non-profit leadership to AIA Virginia,” says AIA Virginia president Robert L. Easter, FAIA. “His creative approach to problem solving and his vision for realizing ever-increasing opportunities for architects to enhance the built environment are a wonderful fit for the members of the AIA in Virginia and will benefit citizens across the Commonwealth.”


AIA Virginia is the statewide chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). With over 2,400 individual members, the professional society represents architects and allied design professionals in private practice, business, industry, government, and academia. AIA Virginia is the voice of the architecture profession in the Commonwealth, dedicated to serving its members, advancing their value, and improving the quality of the built environment. Additional information is available at