Meet the Emerging Leaders in Architecture class of 2023! This year’s class of 15 comprises architects and associates from around the state and students from Hampton University and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center. We will be traveling around the state throughout the year for our educational sessions and focusing on the Charlottesville area for this year’s class project. Would you like to support the class as they travel around the state? Contact Cathy Guske, email@example.com for more information.
Bottom row: Noah Bolton (2023 Chair), Emily Baker, Ava Helm, Mira Abdalla, Anna Kniceley, Haley DeNardo (2023 Vice-Chair), Middle row: Lindsey Blum, Caitlin Morgan, Perry Hammond, Veena Shah, Adam Schultz. Top row: Cat Smith, Jason Lin, John Sturniolo, Briana Smith-Stiff, Kelsey White, Javius Richardson.
On Nov. 4, 2022 the members of the 2022 class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture presented their project presentation at Architecture Exchange East. The project was focused on solutions for the Belmont-Fallon community in Roanoke.
Join AIAVA for our Procrastinator series – a series of Lunch and Learn sessions for those of us who couldn’t get around to it before now. These sessions are for you if you happen to be running behind on your learning units for the year or waiting till the last minute.
Because we get it.
Each approved course is worth 1 AIA | HSW credit.
We hope you’ll join us below:
(click the date to be taken to registration link)
December 5: Design Green & Healthy Built environments with Natural Wood Flooring with Walter Laurie
December 8: Maximizing Tile Installation Using Profiles with Gustavo Tovar
December 9: Using High Pressure Laminate (HPL) Compact Panels for Drained and Back-Ventilated Rainscreen Wall Systems with Dan Brown
December 12: Interior Non- Load Bearing Partitions with Anthony Stazzone
December 13: Waterproofing Roof Decks and Balconies with Walkable PVC Membranes with Nathan C. Heavel
December 14: Meeting LEED v4.1 Acoustical Requirements for Schools with Scott Harvey
December 15: Structural Mulling for Fenestration with John Pugh
How amazing it will be to return to our annual gathering of friends and colleagues in November as we assemble for Architecture Exchange East 2022! For the post-pandemic ArchEx, we are retaining the best bits from the past, refining other bits, and adding new bits to create (and curate) a lighter and brighter ArchEx as we explore the conference theme of “(re)Building Community.”
“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”
~ Eliel Saarinen
As I contemplated possible topics for this month’s newsletter article, I decided that concentrating on our largest gathering of architects was well worthy of the space and attention. Mr. Saarinen’s quotation seems the perfect representation of our intentional ‘redesign’ of Architecture Exchange East. We are doing more than reinvigorating this significant member event; we are enlivening it in a way that will have our members and stakeholders departing genuinely uplifted, with their batteries fully recharged.
Energizing all aspects of the conference aligns with our desire to make it more aspirational and inspirational for everyone through enhancements to the exhibit hall, educational programming, marketing and promotions, hospitality, social events, and other major components. Foremost in our minds, in each and every way, is elevating your experience as an attendee.
Arriving in your inbox this week was your invitation that explains all of the opportunities for networking collegially, growing professionally, and rebuilding societally. We hope this stimulates your interest in participating in a wholly redesigned user experience – one that promises to be awesome for attendees, vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers alike.
CPSM changes were made to reflect recent legislative changes, updated legal interpretations and administration initiatives, and to improve communication and business operations. Because some changes are a result of changes to the Code of Virginia, these changes require immediate compliance. Therefore, a CPSM revision is effective on the date issued for all projects that do not have an approved CO-6 or working drawings approved by DEB. See CPSM Section 220.127.116.11 for how these changes impact A/E services and contracts.
Are you looking for ways to be deeply involved in design-forward, inspirational programming? Consider joining the Design Committee! The committee meets monthly to envision the biennial Design Forum —developing the theme, identifying speakers, selecting the location, hosting the program, and everything in between.
You can expect to commit about 1 hour a month for committee meetings. The commitment outside the meetings can vary from 15–30 minutes a month to 2 or 3 hours. You might spend that time brainstorming ideas, researching inspirational designers, considering the location, or sending out sponsorship appeals. Can it be hard work? Yes. But, it’s also an incredibly rewarding way to serve the profession. Bonus: You’ll get to meet (and dine with) some of the most well-known, respected designers working today.
Past speakers include Sam Mockbee, Tod Williams, Julie Eizenberg, Craig Dykers, Thomas Phifer, Monica Ponce De Leon, Phil Freelon, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Ma Yansong, Anne Fougeron, Eric Höweler, Doris Kim Sung, Steven Holl, Kirsten Murray, Cazú Zegers, Smiljan Radic, and many more.
If you’re passionate about design, join your fellow enthusiasts on the Design Committee. Interested? Contact Rhea George to receive an invitation to the next meeting.
Virginia’s Historic Resources Committee (HRC) is pleased to present “Fundamentals of Historic Brick & Mortar.” Hear an overview of key characteristics of historic brick and mortar and the importance of using compatible materials in restoration.
This program was originally presented and recorded on Wednesday, Aug. 10 from noon–1:30 p.m.
Amanda Edwards, PA-AIC LEED Green Associate | Senior Associate @John Milner Associates Preservation a division of MTFA
Amanda is an architectural conservator who has been responsible for the preservation of some of the nation’s most iconic buildings. Her experience includes materials testing and analysis, condition assessments, and construction documents for the preservation and stabilization of a wide variety of historic buildings.
Warren is third- generation brick and stone mason with 30 years of experience, specializing in Historic Masonry Restoration and Preservation.
Susan Reed, AIA, NCARB (Moderator) | Senior Associate & Director of Historic Preservation Studio @Glavé & Holmes
Susan Reed brings two decades of experience to support Glavé & Holmes Architecture’s renovations of older buildings and new work in historic settings. Susan has worked on over a dozen high-profile projects involving sensitive renovations to historic properties. Recent projects include the Carr’s Hill Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia, the Scott House Renovation at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Wilson Hall Rehabilitation at James Madison University.
Anthony Hita joined LimeWorks.us in 2018 as an architectural conservator overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company’s laboratory. Mr. Hita is responsible for laboratory analysis, technical documentation, sample preparation, report writing, product development, and client consultations. He specializes in masonry conservation and is a designated Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). In addition to his role in the laboratory, Mr. Hita also teaches conservation and preservation theory and practice during classes at the Craftwork Training Center. Mr. Hita has published several papers on architectural history and has been invited to speak several times nationally and internationally on the topic of vernacular architecture. During his time with the company, Mr. Hita has participated in dozens of projects, helped develop six commercial restoration products, and conducted or overseen nearly 100 mortar analyses.
This program was made possible with generous support from:
Virginia’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) is pleased to announce the launch of Embodied Carbon 101. The 12-part series is free and takes place weekly on Tuesdays from noon–1:30 p.m. Each segment of the series features pre-recorded content followed by discussion and Q&A period with a subject matter expert.
Embodied Carbon 101 is designed to help designers understand embodied carbon and immediately apply that knowledge to projects to reduce emissions and get to zero carbon.
Unlike operational carbon, which can be reduced during a building’s lifetime, embodied carbon is “locked in” as soon as a building is completed. Over 12 courses, you’ll learn how to measure, manage, and implement practical solutions from expert practitioners including architects and sustainable building product manufacturers. Buildings contribute about 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, and embodied carbon is a big slice of the pie. Let’s all do our part to get to zero together.
AIA Virginia’s award-winning Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) program was developed in 2009 to jump-start the careers of young professionals. Conceived of and lead by a passionate steering committee of successful architects (now ALL past ELA alumni!), the program was designed to share the things they wished they had learned in architecture school.
Each of the seven day-long sessions focuses on developing essential skills like community engagement, collaboration, firm creation, financial management, advocacy, public service, and much more. The remaining monthly sessions are dedicated to their class project from a region around the commonwealth.
Want to be a member of this elite group of leaders? The application for the 2023 class will be available later this summer. Contact Cathy Guske for information on how to nominate an emerging leader or with any questions about the program.
We asked members of the ELA class of 2022 the same five questions. Here are their inspiring answers.
Shahadah Allah, AIAS
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? I recently had the opportunity to study abroad in France and I was able to see some really beautiful, thought-provoking architecture. Of course, seeing Notre Dame in its current state was the most impactful. Centuries’ worth of work and craftsmanship brought us one of the most iconic cathedrals and being able to witness the restoration progress was a very cool experience. However, I will say it has left me pondering will it return to its former glory or will there come a time when the building takes on a new life and purpose
What is the last book you read? The last book I read was Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. I remembered skimming through it as an adolescent but decided to pick it back up for some design inspiration. It was a great read, and a reminder to always stay generous with your kindness.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I come from a family of creatives (artists, curators, writers, etc). This coupled with my love for math and science led me to the field of architecture. From an early age, my elders would always mention that I was going to become an architect one day. It started with legos and forts and progressed to room planning and landscaping my backyard with my grandmother. When I got a little older, I ventured into graphic design. Once I began designing I instantly fell in love. The transition from graphic design to architecture was a smooth one. It was challenging and I felt I was able to express my thoughts in my work. After my first rigorous semester, the satisfaction that came with seeing my work on the wall is when I knew I discovered my niche.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Anytime I need to recenter myself and relax, I like to take the day to do all my favorite self care activities. I brew some tea and sit on the patio and listen to the sounds surrounding me. My fur friend, Saturn, tends to join me. It’s always refreshing to see the clouds and stargaze at night.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? My advice for aspiring architects is to be open to varying perspectives.I’m always pulling inspiration from the craziest of places because I find it keeps the work fresh and fun.
Christopher Brown, AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? Chichen-Itza and the Mayan ruins. I admittedly don’t know enough about the history or culture of the Maya, but the intentional way in which their world seems to be designed let me feel that something was important beyond my own comprehension. That feeling resonated with me for quite some time.
What is the last book you read? A Year of Playing Catch by Ethan D. Bryan
How did you discover your passion for architecture? In high school, I loved the structure of technical drawing. I was attracted to the idea of putting something together on such a grand scale, so I pursued it. I didn’t yet understand what it was I was drawing, but I knew it was a space I could dream within. As my education progressed, I became more and more interested in the way the built environment was a reflection of our experience. My interest had evolved to question why we build and why it matters. As I pushed myself to satisfy this question I found such a beautiful answer that it shaped my outlook on the human experience and I knew that my place was in architecture.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Go for a long run, work on my garden/yard, or simply taking a step back and watching my family as they experience the world.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? No matter how public or private a structure may be, its architecture is a representation of culture and values in a specific period of time. Take the time to discover what matters to you and the people around you, and find that idea in your design. Be slow to judge, quick to learn, and always open to what your environment is telling you.
Preethi Chitharanjan, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? One of the most evoking architectural masterpieces I have seen is the City Palace in Udaipur, India. This palace is one of the most intuitive and magnificent pieces of architecture I have ever seen in the most recent times. Historic architectural styles have always fascinated me. This palace was built in the 1600s and served as the home of the ruler of the city. The intricate detailing showcases the power of architecture in ancient India.
What is the last book you read? Harlen Coben’s The Woods.
How did you discoveryour passion for architecture? As a kid, my parents used to take me and my brother on vacations all around the country. Every city had a unique style of building and urban fabric…. How do these buildings all look so different and unique? India is a county filled with unique historic-style architecture. It was at that point that I got curious about how they are built and their unique styles of architecture. The more curious I got the more I read about the different styles of architecture. That was where my passion for architecture was evoked.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Play Badminton.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Follow your dreams. Curiosity can take you a long way, never shut it down until you answer your thoughts.
Cody Dodd, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? Visiting the construction site of my own project for the first time this winter evoked a strong positive reaction. Not because it’s the greatest design or anything, but because I was able to see with my own eyes how our design decisions made as a team were actually carried out in the built world. Often times as architects we create designs that exist only in a digital space and never come to fruition, however in this case I was able to evaluate and critique my own work in person on site. Unforgettable.
What is the last book you read? Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I’m from a small town with hardly any buildings you might call “architecture”, however, my parents took us on many summer trips up and down the east coast. It was on these trips that I became fascinated with the built environment.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Sitting on the beach in the sun is my favorite relaxation activity.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Don’t be afraid to be a specialist. The practice of architecture is vast and there are many avenues to pick from. Find what makes you tick and channel your efforts in that direction.
Steven Foster, AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? The Getty Center in Los Angeles. My wife Caitlin and I spent hours just exploring the buildings and surroundings in awe. There were plenty of exhibits when we visited, but the architecture was so captivating that we didn’t even have time to see any of the art on display!
What is the last book you read? The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. I’ve been a Foo Fighters fan for as long as I can remember. He’s the greatest rock star of my generation and seems like a really interesting guy.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I always loved drawing and building things ever since I was a kid. However, I never really made the connection to architecture until later in life. I began my education studying engineering, but the moment I switched to architecture, I truly fell in love with the profession.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? I love to play golf with my friends.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Keep learning and always be open to new ideas. Architecture is constantly evolving, and it’s really important to be able to evolve with it.
Cedric N. Gilliam, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? The Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright. On a recent trip to Chicago, I took some time to carve out an architectural photography tour for myself and the Hyde Park landmark was my first stop.
What is the last book you read? Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
How did you discover your passion for architecture? Mrs. Bailey, my 7th-grade mentor/teacher always had us do projects from problem-solving matrices to constructing building models and doing research. Her husband was an architect and I would always “sneak over” to look at his blueprints whenever he stopped by…he always knew I did and eventually realized my interest in it and would bring in current project documents to show me what he was working on.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Playing some records while sketching or planning out an art project. A trip to the record shop always gets me in a creative mindset.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Be willing to step out of your comfort zone early on, the earlier you do the more exposure and opportunity will be available for you. No growth comes from a place of complacency.
Brian Gore, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? This wasn’t recent but while in grad school my class visited The Fisher House by Louis Kahn. Kahn is a master of light and shadow and the quality of light in that house was simply amazing. We had to take our shoes off while in the house and because the house isn’t open to the public the space was cold. It was an overcast day, but when the sun peeked from behind the clouds the living room and kitchen lit up in a way that made you forget about how cold it was. Being in that house is one of my favorite experiences.
What is the last book you read? I have recently started reading The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard and Missing Middle Housing by Daniel Parolek
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I discovered my passion for architecture by helping my dad with the numerous projects around the house. As a kid, many Saturday mornings were spent at Lowes picking up materials for whatever we were working on that weekend. My brothers and I were digging footers, framing, hanging drywall… you name it we did it. There was nothing in our home that we didn’t have a hand in installing. I didn’t know it then, but I was getting an education on the building process. It was that experience that helped me discover my passion for architecture.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Two things. I LOVE to cook! To me, it is very therapeutic, and it is another creative avenue for me outside of architecture. If you show or let me try a plate of food I’ve never had before I can figure out how to cook it (slight flex). I also enjoy going on walks. I love being out in nature breathing fresh air. It is very relaxing to me, and it is also a way for me to think through problems and ideas.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? My advice would be to find a mentor whether they are inside or outside your office. Architecture can be difficult for young professionals to navigate. It’s great to have a person who you can go to for advice, lessons learned, or just to hear you vent about any frustration you have. Shoutout to Rasheda!
Darian Henry, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? The Rotunda at the University of Virginia. After hearing and learning so much about it in school, it was like standing in front of a celebrity and seeing it for the first time.
What is the last book you read? Essentialism by Greg McKeown
How did you discover your passion for architecture? My love for architecture started with HGTV marathons with my family. When it was time to decide what to study in college, I went on this path not knowing what to expect. After my first year, I was hooked. It felt as if I had just gotten a deeper understanding of the world around me.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? I love baking, especially chocolate chip cookies.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Even after graduating, always be in student mode. There is so much to learn and that’s what keeps architecture exciting.
Helen Jadlowski, AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? There’s nothing like going to a job site and seeing the project you spent months or years pouring over finally rising out of the ground. It’s a labor of love and a major commitment. Recently I visited Arbor Acres in Winston Salem, NC where SFCS designed two apartment buildings currently under construction that are full steel and concrete structures. It was important to achieve ten-foot ceiling heights for the lower floor levels and up to fifteen-foot ceilings for the top floor units, so the buildings are colossal. Standing on the top floor of the partially framed building and looking out at the city skyline took my breath away.
What is the last book you read? Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. It spoke to me on a molecular level and revolutionizes everything I thought a leader was. It made me want to become a leader. The book emphasizes being brave through vulnerability. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I always thought I’d be an artist until my seventh-grade art teacher taught us about Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. A light bulb went off in my mind when she made the relation between art and architecture. Before this, I hadn’t imagined architecture as a profession. At that moment I was irrevocably in love with architecture.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? I love to paint and garden. When I paint, my mind is completely transported and focused on the task of creation. I feel connected to myself and centered in those moments. Gardening is a physical connection to nature that doesn’t require much thought. I feel joy and excitement when a plant grows and thrives.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Be a sponge. The architecture field is vast and that can be daunting. Never stop learning and believe in your abilities. Be bold and brave!
Christina Jeyaseelan, AIAS
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? I just LOVE historic buildings! I feel they provide a unique sense of place and connection to the past world. The most evocative building I came across after moving to the States from India is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. The form represents the style of the greek doric temple is just marvelous and I also admire the way it creates a sense of destination for the national mall. My favorite thing to do around the national mall is to watch the Lincoln Memorial and the reflecting pool at dusk with the hues of twilight shades in the sky. And yes the Capitol building too, I struggle a lot to choose between these two!
What is the last book you read? The recent book I read was Life between Buildings by Jan Gehl and Writings on Architecture & Identity by Balakrishna Doshi. The book by Gehl gave me a new perspective on how public spaces play an integral role in the life and evolution of cities. As an aspiring Urbanist, I love the way this book explains strategies for creating more lively, vibrant, and healthy public spaces which is very much enlightening to me personally. Writings on Architecture & Identity is a curated set of anthologies by Indian architect Balakrishna Doshi who is also the 2018 Pritzker Laureate. His works shifted the dynamics of postcolonial architecture in India. After reading this book, I realized how important an architectural narrative is in a design. The simple yet beautiful sketches in this book explain the thought process behind each of his projects from the 1950s till the present day, which I admire the most!
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I have always been a science and an art person since my childhood. My passion for architecture began especially during my high school history classes. Learning about the past while designing for the present and the future is the one thing I love most about my profession. The way architecture strives and adapts itself to create better livable spaces for the users in a constantly changing world is the notion that keeps me curious to learn something new every single day!
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? I love reading books in my leisure time, mostly historical fiction and science fiction. I am also more of an outdoor person, love to go on bike rides, and short hikes, and love to do picnics in the parks around!
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Architecture and its tenets are timeless. It requires endurance depending on the various context and dimensions which is highly subjective. Thrive, Learn, Adapt, and more than everything, be confident about your own potential!
Isabella Nassar, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? During a recent trip to Sri Lanka, we decided to climb Sri Pada, a holy mountain where at the top sits a Buddhist temple. While the temple itself is not the most glamorous or ornate, the arduous trek up those 5500 stairs, the religious significance of the site and the shared joy of the pilgrimage made it such an incredible journey. Being able to experience the sunrise over the mountains from that temple was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
What is the last book you read? Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung. I went through a psychology phase during quarantine and I just finally got around to finishing it! It’s an incredible read, I highly recommended it.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I discovered my passion for architecture sophomore year of college – at the time I was majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in architecture. It was my first time experiencing studio culture and I found the creative process addictive. Let’s just say my grades definitely reflected where my interests were and it’s a great thing I switched majors!
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Without fail I always find I am most relaxed when I’ve gone for a long drive somewhere playing my favorite music, eventually finding a good spot for a walk and sitting out in nature.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Nurture your curiosity and try hard to never lose that sense of childlike wonder.
Bronwyn Redd, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? Mildred B. Cooper Chapel by E. Fay Jones and Maurice Jeanings. While in school I always appreciated and researched the design of the famous Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones, and I recently had the pleasure of attending a wedding at its sister chapel, the Mildred B. Cooper Chapel. It was a beautiful and serene space. The wood and river rock textures as well as the tall windows, clerestories, and skylight immersed you in the natural wooded environment surrounding the chapel. The tall, curved wood structure felt light, soft, and airy. It was a refreshing space to visit and signified harmonious and fruitful beginnings for my friends’ marriage.
What is the last book you read? The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
How did you discover your passion for architecture? My passion for architecture started at home. Growing up, I had many influences surrounding me. Most notably, I was encouraged by my parents and influenced by the two major renovations/additions done to my childhood home. Watching the house grow and evolve over the years to fit my family’s needs heavily influenced my appreciation for design. In addition to the house renovations, I always enjoyed art, drawing, and building from a young age. My curiosity and imagination often led me to build forts and draw floor plans of my future home, and I think architecture and design combine art and building by emulating artistic conceptual thought in the built environment.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Taking leisure walks to clear my head and ponder everyday thoughts is a favorite, relaxing activity I typically enjoy. In addition to walks, I have recently and surprisingly enjoyed taking care of my house plants as well. I feel relaxed by the controlled yet fast, developing condition of a plant’s evolution. Plants are strong and resilient, and they play an important role in our mental and physical health. Everyone should own a plant!
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? As an aspiring architect myself, I have received a lot of great advice from mentors and peers in recent years. Their advice has helped me learn and grow as I have experienced new and challenging situations. Here are some key takeaways from my experiences as an aspiring architect:
Be Confident. Don’t be afraid to try new things and challenge yourself. You will only grow from new experiences.
Be Humble. Be respectful and open to new ideas. Take the time to listen to others because you might learn something valuable from their differing perspective.
Be true to yourself. Pursue your interests and do things that make you excited and happy. Your happiness will lead to your own success.
Cody M. Solberg, AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? I was just recently in Joshua Tree National Park and was fascinated by the many diverse contemporary homes on the outskirts of the park. Driving up to the park’s west entrance felt like driving through an architectural playground.
What is the last book you read? The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. After wrapping up my ARE’s last year I have been head down in some truly wonderful, albeit heavy, fiction books. This book was beautiful, raw, and emotionally captivating in all the right ways.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I was always creative at a young age with drawing, photography, etc, and architecture felt like a logical step in combining a lot of my passions.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Jump in a pool and swim the day away.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Explore as many outlets as you can, especially while in school! Act like a sponge and absorb as much as you can and then continue to pursue your own individual creative outlets outside of the profession.
Katrina Van Orden, Associate AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
What is the last book you read? Living Queer History by Samantha Rosenthal
How did you discover your passion for architecture? I had the amazing privilege of visiting Spain in 8th grade and I was so impressed with how much better the cities were designed to navigate and experience. The buildings were beautiful and intentional.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Knit!
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Chase the “why” within your passion for architecture. Figure out who you want to make for, and why you want to make it.
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? I recently did a case study of Villaggio Matteotti, a housing development by Giancarlo di Carlo. I love how he worked to design it with the factory workers who would be living there.
What is the last book you read? I am currently reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. It is a gripping and dramatic detailing of how our economic structure drives the progression of climate change. Klein presents a radical call of action to drastically change that economic structure in order to save our planet. Her book scares me to my core, but it is an excellent reminder of what my purpose as an architect is.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? Back in high school, I started urban spelunking. Some people might call it trespassing. I have always loved the history and character of old buildings being reclaimed by the environment. There’s something eerily romantic about abandoned urban space. Now that I’m older, I prefer to leave those old ghosts alone, but I still admire them.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Definitely playing with my pet rats. I build them little mazes and cardboard forts to climb around in. They’re silly little critters. Nothing is quite like coming home after a stressful day to two pocket-sized sewer puppies.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Find a healthy work-life balance. It’s easy to lose yourself in the world of architecture. There’s so much to learn and so much work to do, but your health is of the utmost importance. Make time for friends, family, hobbies, and especially sleep. Your work will be of higher quality and you will be happier as a result.
Alec Woletz, AIA
What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative? The UVA Memorial to Enslaved Laborers – During our most recent ELA session in Charlottesville, we were given a tour of the memorial with one of the descendants of enslaved laborers and 2 members of the design team. I’ve walked around the memorial many times and admired the design, but this experience unlocked a much deeper level of understanding of all the thought and symbolism that went into it.
What is the last book you read? The Ships of Earth, by Orson Scott Card. After learning a lot from non-fiction books in the past few years, I am rediscovering my love of Sci-Fi pleasure reading and going through a book series that was on my shelf for a long time. This is number 3 of 5.
How did you discover your passion for architecture? In early childhood, my parents recognized my passion for building with Legos, K’nex, playing cards, and 3D puzzles. They encouraged me to pursue architecture and I am grateful for they set me on that path early on.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax? Hiking or biking to a quiet place where I can read and/or sketch outside.
What advice do you have for aspiring architects? Be curious and go explore as many buildings as you can! There is a huge difference between learning about a building in an article, book, or an image in a lecture and experiencing it in person. If you don’t have the resources to travel the world and see famous buildings from history, explore the architecture of your town, city, or state. You will be surprised to find how many interesting buildings are in your area, and learning from them will inform your work for many years to come.
Having a rather quiet start to 2022, and being an eager newcomer on the AIA Virginia board, I packed my bag and headed east for the two-day inaugural AEC Conference in Virginia Beach. Jointly sponsored by the Virginia chapters of the AIA, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and the Association of General Contractors (AGC), the conference aims to promote building-industry connections and to foster vital cross-disciplinary conversations relevant to our industry.
AIA Virginia kindly distributed the attendee list ahead of the conference, so I scouted out the demographics. And yes, I color-coded the list to identify the A’s, the E’s, and the C’s that I might connect with. (Hey, architects are visual learners, right?!) Architects and engineers made up almost 75%, with owners and contractors making up the final 25%. I also noted that men would outnumber women by 3 to 1.
As we gathered for breakfast on Thursday in a waterfront room overlooking a foggy coast, the level of experience and influence in the room was palpable. Nearly everyone in attendance held the title of Principal, Director, or Vice President. And although an early morning storm triggered a power outage, water leaks, and last-minute room shifts, our AIA, ACEC & AGC hosts were remarkably focused, jovial, and calm.
I put on my networking cross-training shoes and engaged in the breakout sessions on risk management, leadership, business development & economic development through an architect’s lens. But my peripheral vision was keenly aware of the diverse perspectives in the room. And rather than lecture, facilitators with a wealth of knowledge on their subject matter crowd-sourced topics and moderated roundtable discussions on emerging issues in the building industry. It was so refreshing to hear the candid (and well-seasoned) experiences and objectives of owners, contractors, and other designers on issues like delivery methods, succession planning, and motivating young professionals – all in the same room! Leaders from VCU, UVA, ODU, Norfolk, Suffolk, Henrico & Fairfax shared future CIP opportunities, how they’re dealing with current cost escalations, and their preferences on building materials, procurement methods, and project teams. (Who’d have thought a higher-ed client would want to eliminate the use of acoustic ceiling panels?!) Hearing this information firsthand in a small group setting, I gained unique insights into some rather large bureaucracies.
Whole group mealtimes and Thursday evening’s reception gave us opportunities to continue conversations begun in breakout sessions, share future opportunities, and make plans to follow up and connect. On Friday, I had the privilege of sharing a morning run along the boardwalk with Corey Clayborne. I gained a new understanding of pandemic life with two working parents, a preschooler, and an infant, but more so, I recognized the humility and fortitude of this admirable leader, motivator, and mentor.
Looking around the room as we came together on Friday for lunch and ‘Graphs and Laughs’ (a session on the state of the economy by manic presenter Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D.), I realized that connections were established over those two days that, quite frankly, have been missing from our virtual gatherings for nearly two years. I’m already pursuing new opportunities based on relationships made at the conference. And, as we all smiled for the inaugural conference photo, I was certain we were a catalyst for a more connected and compassionate industry. Thanks to all who had the vision and took the risk to bring us together, and let’s rally to broaden the table for the sequel!
About Kelly Callahan, AIA
Kelly Callahan is a design principal in VMDO’S innovative K-12 studio, where she leverages over 30 years of educational planning and design experience to create happy, healthy, high-performing places for learning. Her projects have been recognized at regional, state, and national levels for educational innovation, user satisfaction, sustainability, and design excellence. Kelly’s foundational years at Virginia Tech instilled a respect for the honest use of materials and a focus on the human experience. She offers synergistic, research-based solutions to create meaningful places that support and uplift people.