Moving Forward Together

Although the pandemic is not over, folks are returning to restaurants, movie theaters, churches, and ballgames as Covid restrictions have loosened.  We are transitioning to something different, still to be defined.  Are we returning to a sense of normalcy that we are used to, the “way things were”, or moving toward something new?  I think too much has changed to return to the way things were.  

Sean Reilly, AIA

If we are moving forward, what are we moving forward towards?   Moving towards something new is unique and personal. Consider the return to the office.  Some of us are ready to return to the office and in-person meetings without any restrictions, others want to return only with certain restrictions, some aren’t ready to return and prefer to continue to work at home, while still others prefer a hybrid model that combines working at home with working at the office.

From the crisis, we have changed, for better, or worse.  We can slide backward, or we can create something new.  AIA Virginia is creating something new with Board Governance changes that will propel our organization forward to a more impactful future. 

  • Through numerous outreach efforts with our local components, it was evident that there was clear support for Phase 1 of the Secretary Advisory Committee’s recommendations for creating a new, more efficient and inclusive Board Governance structure. A special meeting of the membership was held on June 3, 2021 and those recommendations were overwhelmingly approved with a 69-5 vote. 
  • The key component of Phase 1 is the separation of the four Advisory Councils (Advocacy, Education, Outreach and Members Services) from the Board of Directors.
  • Advisory Councils will be populated by members who are passionate about that area of work through a self-nomination process, thus providing new opportunities for leadership.
  • Each Council will consist of up to nine members and select its own Chair.
  • Refer to the Call for Council Nominations article included in this Newsletter for more information. 

It is very exciting to consider the potential impact the four Councils will have in shaping the future of our profession in Virginia.  There are no limits to what we can accomplish through working together in the Councils that will begin work in January.

This period of transition out of the crisis to a better future is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new beginning.  Individually, each of us can choose to move forward and create something new in our lives and careers. It is a journey that requires our imagination and persistence, one day at a time.

What we need is the opportunity to learn what takes us forward to create a positive impact on our families, friends, firms, and the communities we live in.   Let’s move forward together with the courage to create a better-built environment and a healthier, more just world for all people.

Sean E. Reilly, AIA
AIA Virginia 2021 President

Join Us in Elevating the Voice of the Profession!

At the Special Meeting of the Membership held on June 3rd, the membership voted overwhelmingly to support the governance change to open up service on the four advisory Councils of AIA Virginia to the membership!

This change will integrate diverse voices from all over the Commonwealth to move the organization forward in the areas of Advocacy, Education, Outreach, and Member Services.

Check out the service descriptions of each Council.

If any of these opportunities interest you, please self-nominate yourself by 5:00 p.m. on August 31. There will be nine positions available on each Council.

To make a self-nomination, please submit a letter of interest and resume in one combined pdf to Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, FAIA at The Nominating Committee will select nine individuals for each Council to recommend to the AIA Virginia Board of Directors for approval. It does not matter if you have volunteered with the AIA before.

Fresh voices are enthusiastically encouraged to apply!

Where’s Corey?

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, Regional, and National Engagement
Firm Visit
July 6

Safety Assessment Program (SAP) Training
July 9

AIA National Architects in Action Conference
July 14

AIA Virginia Executive Committee Meeting
July 20

AIA National Conference on Architecture (A’21)
July 29

Art of Practice
August 4

Ambassador Engagement
Legislative Reception with Delegate Murphy
July 7

Lead Virginia
Northern Virginia
July 15-17

NCARB Architect Licensing Advisors Summit Speaking Engagement
Miami, FL
August 5-7

At the June Board Meeting


AIA Virginia | 2021 Board of Directors
June 25, 2021
Zoom Virtual Meeting

Motions Made and Approved:

The Board of Directors of AIA Virginia voted as follows:

  • Acceptance of the Proposed Revisions to the 2020 Governance Efficiency Study Recommendations
  • Approval of the Revised Investment Policy
  • Reappointment of Virginia’s Architect Licensing Advisor
  • Appointment to the 2021 Honors Committee to fill an Unexpired Term
  • Approval of Revising the Rules of the Organization to Clarify Submission Requirements of the T. David Fitz-Gibbon Award
  • Approval of Revising the Rules of the Organization to Incorporate the Changes Resulting from the June 3 Special Meeting of the Membership
  • Approval of an End of the Fiscal Year Contribution to the Financial Contingency Fund
  • Approval of the FY2021-2022 Budget
  • Approval of Proposed Accounting Firm for FY 2020-2021 Audit and Tax Filing
  • Acceptance of the Recommendation to hold Architecture Exchange East and Visions Programming on Friday, November 5 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Written reports were provided for the following consent agenda items:

  • PAC Update
  • Advocacy Update: Equity in Procurement Workgroup
  • Art of Practice Update
  • Architecture Exchange East Update
  • Membership Update
  • Amber Book Program Update
  • Virginia NOMA Update                                              
  • Emerging Leaders in Architecture Update                            
  • SAP Training
  • PPP Loan Forgiveness
  • AIA Virginia’s Support of A’21 Candidates                            

Members may request a copy of these written reports by emailing AIA Virginia Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, FAIA at

The next meeting of the 2021 AIA Virginia Board of Directors will occur on August 13, 2021.

The COTE Corner

Looking for a way to really move the needle on green materials? Check out the Materials Pledge, an initiative being driven by A&E professionals to support human health, social health + equity, ecosystem health, climate health and a circular economy.  AIA National has set up a great series of resources that explain how materials affect our lives through these lenses. Other resources include the AIA white paper Materials Transparency: Exploring Opportunities and Risks, and the Healthier Materials Protocol, which provides clear, practical methods and tools for setting healthier material goal and criteria definitions, product selection, tracking and specification, no matter the size and scope of the project. There are even helpful case studies. So what are you waiting for?

Associated Thoughts: Uncomfortable Normalcy

Normal. That’s a pretty dangerous word. 

I recently read an excellent and provocative piece by Jonathan Moody, the CEO of Moody Nolan (which is the largest Black-owned architecture firm in the nation and won this year’s AIA Firm Award) in which he articulates a hesitation around the concept of normalcy. He argues for a wariness of the term, suggesting that it bears the “uneasy undertones” towards the status quo and the unquestioned comfort of the one setting the rules of the game. If things are normal, then why should they change? We have always done it this way. This makes the most sense. Just check what we did last time. This seems to be the best fit.

Michael Spory, Assoc. AIA

You have likely heard similar things before, probably even around the office. As a baseline or casual reference point, “normal” is reductive at best and–at the very least–a supremely insufficient metric for decision-making in design. What is “normal”? Who is “normal”? Who gets to decide what characteristics get to define that for you, for me, for us?

Fifteen months ago brought about a global shutdown that lasted longer than most people imagined, bringing grief and change into every corner of the world. In the 12+ months since the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, our nation has regrappled with the pernicious grips of unjust systems, of pain and racism, white supremacy and inaction. Our profession has reckoned with our own layers of complicity, of finding a “new normal,” whatever that is supposed to mean, in everything from office etiquette to paid leave policies to recruiting more Black architecture students. Where we could productively work is no longer a settled topic, and justice and equity were no longer “out there” topics but amplified conversations about the very daily work of an architecture office. Whatever normal was–or was supposed to be–is permanently fractured.

But in that fracture rushed innovation, inspired action, and the momentum that arrives when we look closely at familiar things and realize they are not adequate. This fracturing reframed those “normal” things as the still-broken things, that all the people long considered outside the standard definition of normal actually are indispensable to the rich tapestry of our built environment. I have observed grassroots energy to recenter perspectives outside the architectural mainstream–neurodiversity, experiences with disability, Black contributions to architecture, women-led design, among many–but also have seen leaders support big and small changes in this continued reckoning.

That energy feels good, but the paradox of changing normals is discomfort. Creative teams perform best given diverse perspectives, which often leads to competing vantage points and potential for conflict. Moody points out that normalcy is seductive, a professional balm that keeps our dissension out of sight and out of mind. Changing an office layout is hard enough, let alone an architectural profession stretching back to the days when only white men could vote or own property. Unlearning and unraveling the “normal” systems is uncomfortable, yet holding onto our discomfort is something that designers and our firms are surprisingly familiar within our work–and simultaneously often poor at in our practices.

I moved into a new office space last week. Granted, it is just down the hall, but still required a heap of effort–phone calls with the property manager, logistics for keys, moving boxes, a shocking amount of cords, spilled dirt from the potted plants. Even small things take effort. Tackling the big changes of our time–climate change, systemic racism, universal access, polarization, liberty, and justice for all–will continue to require grassroots folks like you and me to push our conversations away from the “normal” and towards a better world. I am trying to be uncomfortable–will you join me?

In solidarity and action,
Michael Spory, Associate AIA

Meet Kathleen M. Galvin, FAIA

Kathleen M. Galvin, FAIA is a registered architect with her own practice based in Charlottesville, VA (Galvin Architects.) Throughout her professional and political career, Ms. Galvin has demonstrated an unfailing commitment to creating authentic, equitable, and sustainable places where people of all ages and income levels can thrive.

Ms. Galvin was lead architect and urban designer on such notable projects as the Crozet and Places 29 Master Plans in Albemarle County, Old Trail Village in Crozet, a form-based code for the Town of Orange, and the Eastern Planning Initiative. For fifteen years she has shared her expertise and passion for sustainable and equitable neighborhood design with students as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia. Ms. Galvin served two 4-year terms as a Charlottesville City Councilor and one 4-year term as a City School Board member (from 2008-2020) where she focused on: creating pathways out of poverty; working with the community to reimagine their neighborhoods with more jobs, amenities, and affordable housing but without displacement; transforming city infrastructure to be safe for walkers, cyclists, and motorists alike; reforming the city’s zoning laws to reflect the community’s values; making government more responsive and effective, and designing city and school buildings to be more healthy and sustainable.

In 2017, Ms. Galvin received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Award for Distinguished Achievement and in 2021 she received the National AIA’s highest award for her public service and civic leadership while advancing the profession of architecture, by being elevated to the AIA College of Fellows. Ms. Galvin grew up in hard-scrabble Brockton, MA, the daughter of an auto mechanic and school nurse who both volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army during WWII. As her “first teachers,” her parents emphasized the importance of education and modeled what it looked like to respond to the call to serve. Ms. Galvin received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics (with distinction) and Geography from Boston University and a Masters of Architecture (MArch) from the University of Virginia (UVA.) She is a graduate of Sorensen’s Political Leaders Program (an affiliate of the UVA Weldon Cooper Center.) In addition to running her own practice, Ms. Galvin now serves on the Virginia AIA Board, Advocacy Council, and Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Trustees, the Sorensen Advisory Board, the Form-Based Code Institute’s Advisory Committee, and the Friendship Court Redevelopment Advisory Committee. She and Michael B. Costanzo have been married for over thirty years and are the proud parents of their two sons, Patrick and Kevin, and the grateful caretakers of their beloved family dog, Orion.

Where did you go to college?
Cities always fascinated me, especially Boston so attending Boston University to obtain a BA degree was a perfect choice at the time. A childhood impacted by the economic decline of a once-bustling shoe factory town southeast of Boston however fostered an interest in economics and geography with a focus on affordable housing and urban development. After stints managing assisted housing and being the project manager for an architectural firm doing redevelopment studies for the Boston Housing Authority, I became passionate about community-driven design, placemaking, and architecture. Consequently, I built a portfolio at the Boston Architectural Center and was later admitted to the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture in 1983 under the leadership of renowned urbanist and architect, Jacquelin Robertson (who passed away in 2020.)

What does it take to be an architect?
The challenge for us today is how to keep our cities equitable, sustainable and beautiful, in the face of rising housing costs, climate change, growing income inequality, and a longing to preserve what is gracious and authentic while striving to innovate and create. Richard Swett, FAIA, former US Congressman and author of the book, Leadership by Design once wrote, “Creativity is the art of survival. If one is willing to look at all situations with an open mind, a creative attitude, then the limitations imposed by the problem become the finest incentives to exercise one’s maximum ability and talent.” That wonderful quote sums up why architects are well suited to take on the complex challenges of 21st-century urban life, not as bystanders, but as leaders. Architects are visionaries who both inspire and depend on others to get their projects built, from zoning officials, review boards, clients, and builders, to civil and structural engineers. Architects must be confident yet humble, decisive yet collaborative, all in the right ratios, and make connections with the right people all at the right time to solve gnarly multifaceted problems. These are the same traits that make for an effective elected or appointed political leader or community advocate. It’s probably why I won three out of four political campaigns and successfully served for twelve years in local elected office.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?
There was no one architect, but there were memorable urban places shaped by great architecture that inspired me. Despite our family’s precarious economic situation, my mother always found time for enriching experiences that unwittingly made me a lover of both great architecture and cities. Whenever we went to Boston, she would take me to wonderful places like the Italian North End and Copley and Lewisburg Squares (while my dad and brother went to Fenway Park). We’d visit magnificent buildings like H.H. Richardson’s Trinity Church, McKim, Mead and White’s Boston Public Library, Henry Cobb’s (of I.M. Pei & Partners) John Hancock Building, and Willard Sear’s magical Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; designed as a Venetian palazzo, built by Venetian craftsmen and embraced by Frederick Law Olmstead’s “Emerald Necklace.” Little did I know as a child, that someday decades later I would become a UVA student of architecture studying in Venice, surrounded by such beauty every waking moment of my day.

What are you currently reading?
Adam Bede by George Elliot, Why Nation’s Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, and Sick City: Disease, Race, Inequality and Urban Land by Patrick Condon.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
It was a dinner party in 2016 at the Ristorante il Falcone, a restaurant in Charlottesville’s Sister City, Poggio a Caiano, owned and operated by septuagenarian, Chef Roberta Vivetta Cintelli. Chef Roberta had come to Charlottesville that year as part of a restaurant exchange program to mark the 40-year anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Charlottesville and Poggio inspired by the friendship of two famous native sons, Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazzei (a celebration I helped plan as a City Councilor.) That same summer, I gave a talk in Rome, about resident-centered community revitalization work, after which I was joined by my husband and sons for a tour of Tuscany. I alerted Mayor Marco Martini of our arrival in Poggio and he arranged for us to visit Guiliano da Sangallo’s renaissance palace for Lorenzo the Magificent. “Il momento culminante” however, was dinner at il Falcone with the Mayor, his city councilors and their spouses, my husband Michael and our sons Patrick and Kevin. The food and wine were spectacular, the company and conversation were brilliant and the friendships forged that evening are still alive and well!

Why do you volunteer with AIA?
It was time to give back to a noble profession that had enriched the life of this working-class girl from Brockton, MA beyond measure, affording her countless opportunities to do well by doing good.

New Members

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

New Architect Members

Mr. Matson L. Roberts Jr., AIA (Richmond)

New Associate Members

Mr. John C. Thomas Jr., Associate AIA (Richmond)
Ms. Sara Hoxha, Associate AIA (Blue Ridge)
Miss Nicole W. Gallini, Associate AIA (Richmond)
Mr. Benjamin Polzer, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Mrs. Chelsea Heckenkamp, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Mr. Alex Haley, Associate AIA (Richmond)
Mr. Russell L. Southard, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Bre Carter, Associate AIA (Blue Ridge)
Joely Fischi, Associate AIA (Hampton Roads)
MaryLissy Tarabillo, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Adriana Torres, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)

Transferred In

Mr. Stanford R. Britt, FAIA (Hampton Roads) from AIA DC
Dongyoung Jung, AIA (Central Virginia) from AIA New York

AIA Virginia Allied Members

Jim Jenkins, Region Sales Manager, Huber Engineered Woods

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 members for passing their exams and gaining licensure. This is great news that thrills all of us and we are so proud to call you an architect!

Matthew T. Bundy, AIA (Blue Ridge)
Jacob Bushmire, AIA (Richmond)
Ramatoulie M. Sallah-Muhammed, AIA (Northern 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,

Roundtable Wrap Up

Meeting of the Roundtables | Thursday, May 27, 2021 | Meeting Notes

The next Meeting of the Roundtables gathering will occur on August 4, 2021 at the Art of Practice.

Large Firm Roundtable – 11 participants
Chair: Paul Battaglia, AIA

The following comments were shared from the roundtable participants:                     

Topic 1: Defining and Mentoring Leaders

  • Emerging professionals within the firm were having difficulty being mentored by those that are not on their project team.
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring is suffering because of remote working.
  • A participant shared that their firm has a structured mentoring program that rewards participants.
  • One firm provides formal education that includes speakers/consultants and rewards participation.
  • The building of relationships is missing unplanned gatherings and exchanges during remote working. It used to be organic and now requires formal programming (ex: 6-month dating game structure)
  • People who are looking for mentorship can find it.
  • Mentorship is different from training. Mentorship is messy and creates future leaders. The question, “how do you teach people to run at problems?” was posed.
  • There is a new focus on equity and diversity. One firm shared they are trying to reach out to institutions like Hampton University and Howard desiring to set up mentorships as students start their education. This is a much different approach to the traditional “wait until they graduate” model.
  • One participant shared that they had a good mentorship experience through NOMA and was assigned a mentor who gave notes on their portfolio and helped keep them in the profession.
  • Firms are shifting to the development of remote work policies.
  • A discussion was held on how do firms identify and/or entice new leaders in their firms? There are employees with 15–20 years of experience who are not ready to move into leadership.
  • A participant expressed that Zoom calls are for project discussions and business; not so much for mentoring conversations and cultivating those to become firm leaders.
  • Rebuilding social capital is intensely needed. There is a need for getting back to gathering for informal/organic discussions.
  • There is a need to disassociate age from career longevity. Firms must intentionally cultivate leadership as an important component of diversity.
  • A firm leader shared that when they were intentional about reaching out and calling people one-on-one during remote work, the individuals were more vulnerable and shared struggles.
  • It seems more younger leaders are stepping up to ownership and leadership roles.
  • Current leaders are already choosing replacements for succession regardless of how many years they have left in the practice.
  • An important distinction was made between ownership and leadership. Those terms should be divorced. Anyone can own part of the firm. Not all have leadership potential.
  • A participant shared that the firm has been so busy that they struggle to spend time with their people.

Topic 2: Construction Costs

  • There is a desire to have a presentation given by an economist such as Kermit Baker from AIA or Ken Sorenson from AGC to talk about volatile construction costs.
  • The current issue seems to be deliverability.
  • One participant noted that deliberate conversations with clients are needed regarding rising project costs so that it can be built into the project’s scope and fee.

Mid-Size Firm Roundtable – 9 participants
Chair: Andrew McKinley, AIA

The following comments were shared from the roundtable participants:

Topic 1: Getting Work Done

  • Firms in the residential and multi-family markets are very busy.
  • In general, employees are returning to the office. One firm leader shared that a little more than half of the staff is back in the office.
  • One firm had a slower than anticipated start in the first quarter of the year, but projects are starting to pick up.
  • Some firms noted that they were hiring.
  • A firm shared that it attended a virtual career fair and noted that students want to access architects in-person.
  • A participant shared that they are resuming the firm’s internship program which was suspended last year due to COVID-19.

Topic 2: Getting Back to Work

  • One firm interviewed staff, developed cleaning strategies, and built group consensus before returning to the office.
  • In general, firms are not mandating vaccinations for employees and following CDC + Virginia public health policies.
  • A firm shared that employees have fully returned to work and may work remotely one day per week.
  • A participant noted that it encourages daily check-ins if an employee is working across offices.
  • Some firms are just starting conversations around coming back to the office.
  • Generally, employees have had a desire for some in-person collaboration.

Topic 3: Navigating Code Enforcement

  • One participant shared how they have been having increasingly more non-collaborative experiences with code officials.
  • Another participant noted that they have been having great experiences with younger plan reviewers. The non-collaborative attitude has occurred more with code inspectors.
  • The spirit of collaboration differs from locality to locality.
  • A firm who does projects for the Commonwealth of Virginia shared challenges with the Division of Engineering and Buildings’ inspections being performed by video chat.
  • A participant noted that local government project reviewers are changing between design submittals thus increasing required time investment.

Small Firm Roundtable – 6 participants
Chair: Tim Colley, AIA

The following comments were shared from the roundtable participants:

Topic 1: Getting Work Done

  • Short-term and long-term impacts on elevated material costs:
    • Some are trying to delay projects because due to volatile material costs.
    • One participant noted that they stopped giving cost estimates because they are changing so fast.
    • There was a concern about how long residential projects could be delayed with new building codes becoming effective on July 1.
    • There is a belief that the profession should be prepared for inflation in the construction business for the foreseeable future.
    • Participants noted that there is a shortage of sub-contractors.
    • One participant shared that they are finding alternate specifications to replace materials they cannot access.
    • A firm shared that working with smaller general contractors makes it difficult to handle increasing costs since their profit margins seem to differ from larger general contractors. When the cost per square foot increases, the scope of work changes (more work for the architect).
    • Clients are now breaking projects into phases which creates more work for the architect, more permits, and the necessity to explain increased cost of phased construction.
  • Hiring, recruiting, and retention in post-COVID:
    • There is a concern about finding candidates with the increased competition with large firms who can offer larger salaries.
    • Firm leaders shared that they may have to pay current staff more to keep current with market conditions.
    • There will be a need to go back to the office when a small firm hires a new person just to orient/collaborate.
  • PPP forgivable loans
    • For some, the PPP program was a financial lifeline.
    • One firm received a grant from the Alexandria Development Corp.
    • One firm leader indicated that the PPP program was beneficial if one had a delay in the project pipeline, otherwise you were delaying the inevitable.

Topic 2: Redefining Firm Culture in the Age of Remote Working

  • An issue discussed was generational gaps and the ability to feel comfortable in the digital realm.
  • Small firms were using online collaborative software to meet with staff and clients.
  • Firm leaders discussed how to bring in new employees/interns with no office space.

Topic 3: Returning to Work

  • One firm got rid of office space eight months ago.
  • One participant shared that it is most helpful to talk to employees and meet them where they are regarding vaccinations. An example was given regarding an employee who had not planned to get vaccinated until discussing it with their peers in the office.
  • A firm is having conversations around eliminating 100% remote work. The conversation in some firms include allowing employees to work remotely 20%-40% of the time.

Emerging Professional’s Roundtable – 5 participants
Chair: Krystal Anderson, AIA

The following comments were shared from the roundtable participants:

Topic 1: Mentoring

  • One firm mentors emerging professionals informally through events such as happy hours with senior leaders.
  • In another firm, emerging professionals select an “advocate” within the company to perform their employee review as a chance to obtain a different perspective.
  • One participant shared that annual reviews are performed by a project manager and one other individual. The mentor role can be fulfilled by anyone.
  • A firm has “employee advocates” in the Human Resources department to coach emerging professionals in career advancement.
  • The group discussed the question of “how do you pick a mentor?”
  • Mentoring through COVID has been difficult due to the required intentionality.
  • A participant noted that mentoring was needed most when onboarding at a new office.

Topic 2: Career Advancement

  • In general, demystification of the path to career advancement is needed within firms. One firm was noted as doing this well.
  • Emerging professionals desire to know what it means to be a shareholder in the firm and the associated responsibilities.
  • It was noted that emerging professionals have left firms because of a lack of career mobility.

Topic 3: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

  • One firm has a committee of employees evaluating strategies for diversity.
  • Book clubs and Slack channels are being used to engage in conversation on this topic.

The next Meeting of the Roundtables gathering will occur on August 4, 2021 at the Art of Practice.