ArchEx 2021 Registration Open

Registration is now open for Architecture Exchange East 2021.

ArchEx is AIA Virginia’s annual conference. This year, it takes place (mostly) virtually from Nov. 1–5, 2021. The program is curated to bring together the brightest minds and most engaging speakers to explore a broad theme.

In 2021, we’ll consider consequences — both intentional and unintentional. Design sometimes follows unexpected paths. Like cracks in the sidewalk, the built environment blooms in surprising ways with unexpected actors, leading us to new horizons. This year’s program features designs and designers responding with innovation, synthesis, and perhaps even a lesson or two from the undesigned constraints around us.

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ELA 2022 Nominations Open

AIA Virginia announces the call for applications for the 2022 class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA): An Honors Academy of AIA Virginia.

The application and more information is available here>>
The application deadline is Nov. 5, 2021.

ELA is an intensive program of educational sessions structured around presentations, discussions, team exploration, analysis, consensus-building, collaboration, and case study activities undertaken over the course of a year by a small cadre of participants selected for their potential to be outstanding contributors to the profession and the community. Facilitators and mentors who are established leaders in the building, finance, non-profit, development, university, legal, consulting, and design professions and in the community at large develop and deliver the sessions, designed to provide participants with advanced knowledge and skills related to specific areas of leadership and practice.

The program consists of monthly, day-long seminars, work sessions, or class project presentations, culminating at a presentation at Architecture Exchange East in November.

The seminars are interactive, drawing on real examples and actively involving participants. They rotate among sites in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Richmond, Alexandria, and Norfolk in conjunction with the firms, schools, and the local AIA component in each area.

The class project for 2022 will be in Roanoke, so many sessions and the project workdays will be located in the Roanoke area.

How to Apply
The committee seeks applicants from three categories:

Component Nominees: Each of the five AIA Virginia local component Boards may nominate one or more individuals for admission to the program. One participant will be selected from each component for a total of five. If interested, please contact your local AIA chapter representative. Each chapter sets its own deadline and application requirements for these positions.

Student Nominees: Each Virginia Architecture School (UVA, VT, Hampton, and WAAC) may nominate one or more students for admission to the program. One participant will be selected from each school for a total of four. If interested, contact your department Chair/Dean.

Open Applications: Applicants may apply on their own or be nominated by someone else. Seven participants will be selected from among these applicants.

The application and more information is available here>>
The application deadline is Nov. 5, 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact Cathy Guske, Member Services Director,

It’s a Wrap: Art of Practice 2021

More than 70 firm leaders came together online on Aug. 4 to exchange ideas, enjoy fellowship, and learn at the third biennial Art of Practice business symposium.

The program kicked off with a talk from Carole Wedge, FAIA, the CEO of Shepley Bulfinch, and the 2020 AIA Edward C. Kemper Award winner. She spoke about her professional journey from the mailroom to CEO and her approach to leadership. Following her talk, she had a conversation about the future of the profession with Rasheda Tripp, AIA, an Architect at Guernsey Tingle; Simone Saidel, AIA, a Project Architect at HGA Architects and Engineers; and Michael Spory, Assoc. AIA a Designer at VMDO Architects. They explored how the disruptions of 2020 revealed new opportunities to engage and empower teams.

Next up, we heard from a series of experts about what’s on the horizon for practice — from emerging technologies, trends in risk management and decarbonization, and the latest developments in employment law. Then, attendees talked about what they heard during our firm roundtable breakout sessions.

We closed out the day with a lively economic update and Q&A session with the AIA’s chief economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D.

Art of Practice: What’s Next

Registration is now open for the third biennial Art of Practice event from 1-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. Held virtually, the half-day program, kicked off by a keynote address from Carole Wedge, FAIA, is intended to cultivate leadership skills, identify solutions to common business problems, and fuel collaboration across the profession. With a focus on “what’s next” for the industry, current and aspiring firm leaders will hear timely, relevant, actionable advice on how to grow and sustain their businesses.

About the Keynote Speaker

Carole Wedge, FAIA

Carole Wedge, FAIA | CEO, Shepley Bulfinch
2020 AIA Edward C. Kemper Award winner
Immediate Past
Chair, AIA Large Firm Roundtable

Carole Wedge, FAIA, LEED AP, is CEO of Shepley Bulfinch, a national design firm with offices in Boston, Hartford, Houston, and Phoenix. Since 2014, she has led the firm’s evolution and growth into an innovative organization with an open and diverse culture.

Throughout her career in architecture and advocacy in the wider community, Carole has sought to challenge conventions and incite organizations to become more transparent and diverse. Her dynamic and collaborative leadership has powerfully impacted cornerstone institutions — from higher education and civic organizations to the architectural industry. In 2009, she was one of seven women from the Boston Women Principals Group to pilot the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit. She has also been recognized with the Boston Society of Architects’ Women in Design Award. Carole is a member of Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission, a member of the board of trustees for Boston Architectural College and a board member of Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Following Carole’s talk, she’ll be joined by Rasheda Tripp, AIA, an Architect at GuernseyTingle; Simone Saidel, AIA, a Project Architect at HGA Architects and Engineers; and Michael Spory, Assoc. AIA a Designer at VMDO Architects, for a conversation about the future of the profession and a Q&A with the audience.

Other program highlights:

Economic Forecast

Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA
The AIA’s Chief Economist will share the latest economic forecast along with insights on infrastructure spending and supply chain issues.

What’s Next: Ignite
Experts in tech, employment law, and risk management share rapid-fire insights about what’s on the horizon for the profession.


Nathan King, DDes
Nathan King is Co-Director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research (CDR) and teaches courses in Architecture, Industrial Design, Construction, and Engineering-related disciplines. Prior to Virginia Tech, Nathan taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Rhode Island school of Design, and the University of Innsbruck’s Institute for Experimental Architecture. He is also the Senior Industry Engagement Manager for the Autodesk Technology Centers focusing on Architecture, Engineering and Construction, where he develops applied research collaborations relating to industrialized construction and automation technologies.

Yvonne Castillo, Esq. | Decarbonization Trends and Impacts on the Design Industry
Yvonne Castillo is Vice President & Director, Risk Management with Victor US. She is an architecture-degreed lawyer with 22 years of experience. She began her law practice as a judicial law clerk and then a trial lawyer and later became the Chief In-House Lobbyist and General Counsel for the American Institute of Architects, Texas Chapter. After almost 10 years, she worked at AIA National Headquarters and supported all state government affairs programs with research, analysis, and programming that connected state components with common issues and strategies.

Karen Elliott | Labor and Employment
Karen Elliott focuses her practice at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott on labor and employment law and commercial litigation matters. She strives to provide practical legal advice to help employers craft reasonable business solutions for their human resource challenges. Her clients span all sizes, from start-ups to the Fortune 500. As a labor and employment lawyer, Karen helps clients navigate the alphabet soup of the 40 or more employment laws from the ADA, FMLA, GINA, OSHA to USERRA, and the myriad federal agencies such as DOL, EEOC, and NLRB.

Kathy Blanchard, CIC, RPLU | Risk Management
A familiar name to many in Virginia, Kathy Blanchard is a Professional Liability Consultant and Senior Vice President with McGriff. She leads McGriff’s design professional liability practice group for the mid-Atlantic.

Firm Roundtable Discussions

Following these info-packed talks, attendees will join breakout sessions moderated by our Small, Mid-sized, and Large Firm Roundtable chairs. With a focus on peer-to-peer sharing, discuss common challenge and share solutions.

AIA members: $60
Assoc. AIA member: $25
Non-members: $100

Aug. 4, 2021 from 1-5:30 p.m. Earn 4.25 AIA LU|Elective

ELA Day in Manchester

We all agreed. If we were going to meet in Richmond, we wanted to spend as much time as possible getting to know Manchester, our project location, and its people, those we are seeking to serve.

The 2021 Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) group had been only meeting online, in classic pandemic fashion, until this past mid-May when a number of our team members made the trip to Richmond for a hybrid session of goal setting; exploring Manchester, a neighborhood of Richmond just south of the James River; and engaging with community members in person. Our group has 16 members from all over the state, but only one of us lives in Richmond. This has been a particular challenge that we have been grappling with as we seek to get to know Manchester and make a meaningful response to the particular needs of the community. Early on we decided that we wanted to be collaborators with the people and different organizations who make Manchester special and are deeply invested in its future. It is through centering these people and including typically marginalized voices in the design process that we could make something that was relevant and responsive to everyone’s needs. Manchester is changing rapidly with big questions about how it can develop in a way that benefits all who live there now. We hoped the process by which we developed our project would help build collective power within Manchester’s community and give them tools to better advocate for themselves. 

Our Charlottesville class session about community engagement left us inspired by the speakers who shared their experiences. We heard stories from Bruce Wardell of BRW about the resident-led design of a redevelopment project, gleaned insights from Katie Swenson’s experience at MASS Architects, and were excited by the examples Serena Gruia, a public engagement specialist for Albemarle county, shared with us about how we might design engagements in order to co-create with the community. These stories, and the values of centering the community in the process, formed the basis of our outreach to Manchester in May.

This first engagement was an effort to make our group known and to start building trust with the people that live and work here. That afternoon, we broke into five teams with four of them focusing on talking to businesses. Since we do not have a permanent location in the area, getting business’s support and insights were essential to starting to connect more deeply with the community. While these groups shared about who we are, asked questions, and put up our blue ELA posters, they also made observations about the different things they saw while walking around. Our fifth team was stationed outside the library with a large map of Manchester and colored stickers inviting passersby to place stickers on the map indicating favorite places, home, work, etc. The stories they shared about this place through this exercise helped us start to discern themes that we can explore more deeply as a design team. We hope to go back again with another in-person session as well as develop a survey that starts getting into more specifics.

Doing this engagement in-person made me realise how many voices we would have missed by only doing something online. We would not have been able to reach the people who engaged with us on the street that day without physically being in this place and putting faces to our name. Another in our group offered their experience of that day saying, “It was amazing to hear how passionately the local businesses felt about their community once we started our conversations. You can tell they genuinely care about preserving the sense of place that already exists in Manchester.” Someone else shared that, “I’ve realized that being able to holistically understand Manchester is like getting to know a person… To be able to offer support you have to be open-minded, compassionate to their history, their goals, and character.” 

If you have insights to share about Manchester or thoughts on our engagement efforts so far we welcome you to contact us! We can be reached at:

submitted by:
Hayley Owens, Associate AIA
ELA Class of 2021

2021 ELA Class Profiles

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 financial management, communication and negotiation, advocacy and 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 2022 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 2021 the same five questions. Here are their inspiring answers.

Barbara Benesh, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I’m very proud to currently be renovating a farmhouse-turned-restaurant for the local non-profit, Vanguard Landing. If you’re not familiar, Vanguard Landing offers a safe, intentional, interactive and inclusive community where people with intellectual and developmental differences can thrive and achieve their life’s full potential. Besides being proud to support a wonderful cause, it’s been amazing to hear the stories this historic home has to tell. There’s something very special and humbling about being a part of a building’s story—I’m grateful to help write this chapter.

What is the last book you read?
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My passion for architecture began while growing up in the American South East, surrounded by historical buildings and learning about stories of the interesting people who lived and worked in them. Understanding the way in which architecture expresses our past and present ways of life felt (and still feels) magical to me. I began to see buildings as time capsules, pillars of adaptation with layers of cultural context. Sometimes architecture feels akin to archeology, and I love that intersection.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Taking walks on the Elizabeth River Trail brings me so much peace. There’s something very therapeutic about being in nature, especially on the water. I find the ERT an especially calming space to connect with myself and organize my thoughts.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Embrace the challenge. If studied right, I promise you will grow from it.

Marcos Alberto Borjas, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I will never forget visiting my grandmother’s house ten years later. The feeling of nostalgia leaves a personal imprint that I never experienced in any other place.

What is the last book you read?
Call of the Wild

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Through my endless obsession with skyscrapers

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Hot chocolate on a rainy day

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Architecture is not defined, and it never will. Use your aspirations as a guide to creating your own definition. You may have to go against everyone and everything, but if you are protecting your values, that is completely fine.

Kayla Bromley, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Caperton House by Fernau + Hartman Architects (my firm has the honor of designing new additions/renovations for this house and I recently went to visit it).

What is the last book you read?
The Overstory by Richard Powers

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I think I just fell into the profession. I’ve always enjoyed creating things–like making box forts and always playing with K’Nex and Legos when I was little–so in high school, my brother told me, “You should go to Virginia Tech and study architecture.” I thought “Okay, sure, I’ll try it,” and the rest is history! After my first year studio, I knew I was exactly where I belonged, pursuing a career that was constantly inspiring and challenging me.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Play board/card games (current favorites are Dominion and Terraforming Mars)

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Architecture is largely about listening and communication! As designers, our work extends beyond the built; We can positively impact our communities by simply starting with, “how we can help,” and listening/responding empathetically.

Haley DeNardo, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
My childhood home in upstate NY. Being home during the pandemic reminded me of memories, love, and stability, which was a great reminder to not take those things for granted. Emotion and inspiration can be drawn from any type of building. For more of an ‘architectural building’ it would be the Beinecke Rare Books Library at Yale University. The thoughtful and detailed use of material is inspiring.

What is the last book you read?
Eat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I discovered my passion of architecture through communication. Public speaking and enhancing others lives is really important to me. Creating impact and community through the built environment brings importance to our work to do right by the community and established relationships. I strive to meet people’s needs and my goals through architecture and communication.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Cooking, embroidery, or hiking depending on the season and what I’m decompressing from.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Never forget to be your authentic self. There is room for everyone in architecture, and sticking to your gut and using your voice is critical. We all have things to contribute and learn, no matter our age or status.

Maggie Dunlap, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
David Adjaye’s Francis Gregory Library in Washington, DC is one of the most successful pieces of community architecture that I’ve seen in recent memory. The building uses materials efficiently and creatively and is tucked into a woodland environment. Overall, it is accessible, functional, and fun – everything a great building should be!

What is the last book you read?
I always have a stack going simultaneously but the most recent ones that I’ve finished are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Memorial by Bryan Washington, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer, and a biography of Frederick Douglass by David Blight. These all explore themes of culture, belonging, climate awareness, love, and identity, and have found their way into my professional and student work in the past months.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
At different points, I’ve been interested in interiors, textile design, fashion, and music. I’m always inspired by a wide range of sources, and architecture has always been the career that seemed to marry my dual personalities of the technical and artistic.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love hiking, traveling, and visiting museums with my family – something I’m looking forward to doing again post-pandemic. One of my other hobbies is genealogy, which I love as a puzzle and as a way to explore cultural narratives.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Research, research, research! Architecture should never exist in a vacuum, and listening to history, culture, community, and above all the environment, is critical to creating conscious, humble, and inclusive architecture that adds value and a sense of place to the natural and built environments.

Alex Foster, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
It wasn’t as recent, but of course, the Pantheon. I arrived prepared to be skeptical, but when I walked in, I remember not even having air to gasp. You know that feeling? Serendipitously, it actually started raining. I grabbed a friend’s hand, we ducked under the dividers, and stood under the oculus, looking up through the drizzle at what was still a surprisingly sunny day. Although we were promptly escorted out, it reinforced for me that a big part of architecture is placing ourselves in those unique positions that leave lasting impressions and change our perspectives.

What is the last book you read?
I recently wrapped up two books: Walkable Cities, by Jeff Speck and Scarcity, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. It was really interesting to read these two in tandem, as at surface level, they are relatively unrelated. However, Scarcity helped to frame many of Speck’s urban planning strategies in a way that better helped me understand not only the missing pedestrian vibrancy in our downtowns but also the motivation and approaches our communities use to replace it.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
As a child, a future mentor demonstrated that stair dimensions shape people’s behavior: long, monumental steps induce a leisurely stroll and steep, narrow terraces provoke a driven, vertical sprint. The experience made me think about the impact of design on the human experience and later influenced my thesis decision to explore architecture as a medium for transformative dialogue.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Throughout the week, I enjoy staying busy after work. But, when I get a chance to decompress, I love to get out to bike or golf, practice my bagpipes, and play backgammon over a beer with friends.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Find good mentors and keep your ears open. The best advice I was given was to never wear headphones in the studio. Architecture doesn’t exist in a bubble – and neither does a good design process! Listen and participate in the conversations around you!

Gary Glinsey, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Foster + Partners’ RCC Headquarters in Yekaterinburg really caught my eye. It is such a visually stunning building that has quality interior spaces.

What is the last book you read?
The Fire Next Time
by James Baldwin. Written over 50 years ago, but just as timely as ever. It is definitely a must-read for everyone this year.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My passion began with growing up in Chicago. The diverse neighborhoods really influenced my eye for drawing the environments around me. Coupling that with the exceeding amount of art classes I took in high school, my love for buildings grew. At first it was skyscrapers, but gradually museums, houses, and other building types got me to love the field of architecture.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Listening to music has to be at the top of the list. Spotify has to be my most used app on my phone!

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Being an aspiring architect myself I think making time outside of work/class is extremely important. You have to know when to close the computer or wrap up the trace and get out once in a while. Design takes a lot out of you, so knowing when to give yourself a little free time to clear your head is key. For me, bike riding is essential to my process, however, some may have different methods. Once you’re able to give yourself time away from projects, you can come back more level-headed and focused.

Aria Hill, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Architect Michelle Ja and her studio JaJa Co are currently working on a private studio gallery in Chesapeake, VA. The exterior formal language is quite striking! The project uniquely attempts to further the contextual vernacular of the local big box store claddings. I welcome more architecturally “funky” projects to the Hampton Roads area.

What is the last book you read?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates! A must-read.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I discovered architecture through my dad who suggested that my interests in mathematics and crafts would make me an ideal candidate for architecture school. Though, I would say architecture became my passion after an invigorating 2nd year of architectural studies in which the innumerous possibilities of architecture were revealed to me.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I really enjoy cooking new (plant-based) recipes to de-stress after studio! Put on some alternative soul music and just cook–a perfect stress relief. And then I will get my family to taste test the final product. 🙂

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
I recommend that everyone in this profession find their niche. I know–pretty easy to say, harder to do–but over time, I have come to discover a few passions that motivate me in my endeavors. I am strongly convicted to become licensed after graduation due to the lack of licensed Black female architects at the moment (~500).

Iroda Karimova, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I love Zeider’s American Dream Theather in Virginia Beach Town Center, It came out to be one of the best and successful public urban spaces, including an inviting upper-level terrace. It enhances the adjacent plaza, and the terrace offers the best spot for picture taking with Town Center behind. The massing of the building is very dramatic and modern. I always visit it with the Cold Stone Ice cream in my hand.

What is the last book you read?
Big Magic, Creative living beyond fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Interior Design Magazine, as a 10-year old, I used to recreate the floorplans on my sketchbook. Then started making my own dream house floorplans. I also admired the new type of residential construction in my neighborhood.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Reading a book, painting with watercolor,  swimming at the beach, and shopping.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Dream Big and Take Risks!

Sasha Light, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD is a local project that I was very impressed by. The exhibit spaces use primarily natural light, and provide a very tranquil and minimalist experience. The museum is heavily focused on a connection with nature and how it accentuates the displayed works. The detailing – especially the concrete work – was stunning and exemplified how details and a minimal material palette truly can create a timeless design. Visiting Glenstone made me further appreciate the importance of dialogue between designer, contractor and manufacturer, as it is clear that strong coordination can produce such amazing work.

What is the last book you read?
I am currently reading Creativity Inc. by a co-founder of Pixar, Ed Catmull. It details his experience in the animation industry and the critical components of creating a productive and positive work atmosphere. He focuses on the balance between fostering creativity and highly conceptual ideas with the realities/struggles of a young company. The situations and experiences of Ed Catmull’s career can be easily applied to the architecture industry and was very insightful to read, I recommend everyone to give the book a shot.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I think all designers growing up have a fascination with the tangible products of human creation. When I was young I absolutely loved everything related to construction, the yard was littered with Tonka trucks and my mothers flowers were always dug up (woops). That really began my appreciation for the built world and the amazing feats of engineering and designs many buildings have employed. Sketches and technical drawings have always given me a sense of wonder and pleasure, seeing how conceptual ideas can be developed and meshed with reality to create a physical product, and the human expression that inherently comes with that. I think everyone is a designer in some sense, and to be able to exercise creativity and decision-making is a very important human trait.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I will never turn down a good movie, especially one by A24 studios. If I am not vegging out on the couch, I really enjoy sketching, cooking, backpacking and skiing (followed by a nice cold beer of course).

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
An inherent attribute about the architecture industry (or any design focused industry for that matter) is the vulnerability when an idea is presented. Do not be afraid to share your own ideas, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be. You will grow as a person and, although there may be harsh criticism at times, you will find some of the most rewarding experiences in life and situations that you can learn from. I still look back at some of my school projects and wince, trying to understand how in the world I would want to put that in front of other people. It was those situations though, that allowed me to grow, whether I knew it or not.

Ashley Montgomery, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Stephen Lawrence Center | London UK, Adjaye Associates. I saw a couple of photos recently and fell in love with the façade pattern. The textures and patterns on the façade and the shadows they emit on the interior walls are beautiful.

What is the last book you read? The last book I read was Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown, highly recommend it! And I am about to start a new book, Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I have always had a deep passion for creating, and culture how the two relate to one another. I wanted to be able to contribute to the narrative of our culture and our environments and Architecture for me is a connection between the two.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
A good, long nap!

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Some things I have learned along the way are, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be comfortable with not having an answer but being willing to find one. Also, find your voice, figure out what makes you want to practice Architecture and do that.

Hayley Owens, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I would not normally say my apartment, since it is no architectural wonder, but over this past year, I have spent an amazing amount of time in this space. This experience has intensified my awareness of how important it is to have high-quality, affordable, and beautiful places to live. Places that are restorative and allow one to express themselves while also fostering connection with others and the natural world. It all starts at this intimate scale. Affordable, quality housing and neighborhood design should be available to everyone. Having this experience has definitely awakened a sense of activism for me around this.

What is the last book you read?
I have just finished reading Cradle to Cradle by architect Bill McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. I keep coming back to the fact that it is written in 2002 and that the ideas are as revolutionary now as they were then. I am someone who frequently feels guilty for the impact I have on the environment and am forever carefully calculating ways to minimize my waste and be “less bad.” This book flips this scarcity mentality on its head, instead proposing that the way we make things needs to change and uses natural systems as a model. Our products and buildings should be delightful, safe, prolific, and not elicit guilt. Very hopeful and inspiring.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
As a young person, I spent a lot of time making mini-worlds out of polymer clay, mud, and whatever I found in the woods. I never connected this to place-making but certainly made places through narrative and storytelling with found items. It wasn’t until I participated in the ACE Mentoring program in high school that I was exposed to the different creative careers of landscape architecture and architecture. Getting to know professionals and have their support with a group project helped me get excited and commit to architecture as a career path.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love spending time carefully cleaning, folding, organizing, and thinking through how everything is put away. This could be in my own space, my mom’s house, or for someone I am dog-sitting for. I can get deeply immersed in the space and my own thoughts for hours. It is satisfying to step back and see something transformed. In my daily rituals I like to test how I have previously organized something — should it be redone next weekend?

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
We are all made up of multitudes. We have different interests, passions, personality traits, identities, and backgrounds that shape our experiences and thinking. It is so important that we bring our whole complex and curious selves to the table as designers; the design questions we seek to answer are equally complex and require a diversity of thinking and training. I have spent a lot of time fretting about not being “enough” or not fitting a perceived ideal. I encourage you to not limit yourself to who you think you should be, but to really examine who you are now and the great richness you have to offer with your unique experiences and interests.

Marium Rahman, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The house across the street; I can see it from my chair as I look out the window while working remotely from my dining table. They recently painted it black and I wondered how hot that house will get during the summer?!

What is the last book you read?
I am currently trying to read the Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, however, ARE books keep distracting me from finishing it.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I discovered my passion for architecture during undergrad; I had started studying architecture without truly understanding how much I would enjoy it and its potential to shape my perspective in life. And even after 11 years, I can say I am still discovering it every day.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
A good meal with friends and family.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
You are always learning so try to absorb as much as you can, knowledge is one of your strongest assets, and most importantly have fun with whatever you are doing, architecture is hard work but it is definitely worth it!

Stephanie Smid, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Right before the lockdown started I visited the International Spy Museum in DC. Having only seen the building in photos I was initially uncertain about the design, but experiencing it in person gave a whole different feeling. What appeared clunky in a photo felt dramatic and exciting when approaching the building. The bold colors were a great contrast to the surrounding brutalist concrete, but my favorite part was the staircase behind the curtain wall.

What is the last book you read?
Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s one of my favorite stories that I try to reread whenever I have a lot of upcoming downtime, so this past year was perfect for it.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I chose architecture in undergrad because I thought it would be a good blend of science and art, but it wasn’t until I took a digital fabrication class that it finally felt right. Exploring new ways to use materials by leveraging technology and parametric design combined all the skills and fields I was looking for- then the school got a robot arm. I was hooked.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love staying active and playing sports, so the lockdown was pretty hard at first. I got an iPad to start exploring digital illustration and I’ve become a bit obsessed! I also enjoy making small projects with my laser cutter and the occasional Netflix binge.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Try not to compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to licensure. Everyone has different interests and experiences that don’t all lead to getting licensed in the same amount of time. Architecture is a huge field, so don’t be afraid if your passion takes you down some twisty roads.

Lisette Stone, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia by Tod Williams and Billy Tsien. While the entire building is beautiful and impeccably crafted, standing under that monumental skylight made me feel small and inconsequential in the best way.

What is the last book you read?
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My mother adores old buildings. When I was young, we would frequently take detours through historic districts and pick out our favorite details. Her fascination was contagious, and I, too, soon felt a rush at the sight of a good leaded glass window. Much later, my husband and I bought our own old house. The process of restoring it sparked that same excitement all over again that my day job at the time did not, convincing me to pursue architecture as a career rather than a hobby.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love to read on my front porch or take my dogs on a long walk with a true-crime podcast for company.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Have fun with your studio assignments while in school, and remember to keep learning and exploring after you graduate.

Taylor Terrill, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
We recently purchased our first home and the words of Alain de Botton have never rung so true – “It (home) has provided not only physical but also psychological sanctuary. It has been a guardian of identity. Over the years, its owners have returned from periods away and, on looking around them, remembered who they were.”

What is the last book you read?
My wife recently gave birth to our first child, so sitting down to read has been few and far between. I do love a good podcast, a few of my favorites include Dolly Parton’s America, Radiolab, and 99% Invisible.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I always found myself looking up – at an intricate ceiling, at houses that lined the streets in my neighborhood, at buildings as they were constructed piece by piece.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Make a massive charcuterie board and find something good on Netflix.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Have confidence in your abilities. Stop comparing yourself, instead learn to celebrate the creativity of others.

Help Document Modern Structures

Initially inspired by the demolition of a beloved Marcel Breuer building in Northern Virginia, and now championed by the newly re-energized Virginia Historic Resources Committee (HRC), AIA Virginia is excited to partner with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) and Modern Richmond to advance a long-held goal of training designers to conduct field surveys on important Virginia buildings – particularly (but not limited to) those from the mid-20th century. An optional second program will train users how to enter the survey data into DHR’s Virginia Cultural Resources Information System. It is hoped that this work will contribute to the preservation of important architectural resources in Virginia.

If you’re interested in supporting this effort, join us on Thursday, April 29 for one or both of the following training sessions:

Conducting Field Surveys of Significant Architectural Resources from the Recent Past
noon-1 p.m.

This hour-long webinar shows participants how to complete a reconnaissance-level field survey using Highland Hills — a significant mid-1950s neighborhood designed by Charles Goodman in Bon Air, Virginia — as a case study. (Goodman is best known for having designed the Hollin Hills in Alexandria and the main terminal at Reagan National Airport.) After training, participants will be invited to participate in field surveys in early May (or encouraged to conduct them in their own region). The completed Highland Hills surveys will be archived at the Department of Historic Resources. 

No previous experience is required, though participants should be comfortable recognizing and describing basic building and site materials and forms.

Register online. (Submitted for AIA CES approval)

Entering Field Survey Data into the Virginia Cultural Resources Information System (VCRIS)
1:30-2:30 p.m.

Those interested in getting more deeply engaged in this effort are invited to join us to learn how to enter field survey data into DHR’s VCRIS database.

Some familiarity with DHR’s survey terminology and methods would be helpful. The information in the database and in DHR’s archives is available to the public for study and educational use.

Register online. (Submitted for AIA CES approval)

2021 AIA Virginia Prize Jury Announced; Special Event Scheduled for April 16

AIA Virginia is pleased to announce the jury for the 2021 AIA Virginia Prize. The competition — which took place over the weekend of Jan. 22–25 — was inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project and challenged students to design a pillar installation for the City of Alexandria’s Market Square. Each school’s faculty reviewed the submissions and sent up to 10 finalists for final consideration by the jury which will be chaired by Rob Reis, AIA. [See the complete jury list below.]

In a new initiative this year, AIA Virginia is convening a post-competition conversation with the students from the 4 schools, the jurors, and designers from the region. The virtual panel discussion takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 16. Register to see the winning submissions, hear jury comments, and join the discussion.

About the Jury

Rob Reis, AIA

Chair: Robert V. Reis, AIA, Principal and Design Director, Hanbury

Robert Reis is a design principal and design director at Hanbury, providing leadership for the firm in both projects and competitions. His award-winning designs throughout the United States and abroad include a wide range of project types in government, higher education, and corporate-commercial sectors.

Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis, Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum

Audrey Davis has worked at the Alexandria Black History Museum since 1993 and was appointed Director of the museum in 2014. Davis was one of five authors of the History Press book, “African Americans of Alexandria, Virginia: Beacons of Light in the 20th Century” and has served on the Board of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy.

Brad Grant

Brad Grant, Professor, Department of Architecture, Howard University

Howard University architecture professor Bradford Grant was named the first Instagram Artist-in-Residence at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in July 2020 and received the 2021 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Distinguished Professor Award in March.

 Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet

Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet, Design Advocate, Determined by Design

A design chameleon—Sequoyah Hunter-Cuyjet has the unique ability to tap into the heart of a community and give people a voice through design. With her diverse art and culturally-rich background as well as her multidisciplinary design experience, she is a versatile person who can help partners address any project challenge.
Sequoyah has a Bachelor of Art in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College—where she studied studio art, literature and anthropology—as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Moore College of Art + Design. Boutique Magazine recognized her as a 2020 Boutique 18—a rising star in hospitality design.

Christopher Lee

Chris Lee, FAIA, President, Johnson & Lee, Chicago

(Frank) Christopher Lee’s architectural practice has focused on designs for challenged urban communities. His practice serves as a model for the improvement of design standards that help rebuild social structure and provide architecture that enhances community life. Utilizing an inclusive approach enables the communities to voice their needs, programmatically, aesthetically, and culturally.

Ashley Montgomery

Ashley Montgomery, Assoc. AIA, Associate and leader of the Hanbury Resiliency Initiative, Hanbury

Ashley Montgomery, a recent Master of Architecture graduate with five years of experience as a land planning and environmental design project manager, has already left her imprint on the coastal

The Heights Building Panel Discussion Recording Now Available

On Friday, March 5, 2021, AIA Virginia and the AIA Northern Virginia Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) convened a panel discussion about the new Heights Building, an Arlington Public School (APS) facility in Northern Virginia. Speakers from Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Leo A Daly, APS, Silman, and Gilbane shared insights into the design and construction of this structural masterpiece.

Inspired by the values and educational mission of APS, the Heights Building serves as a model example for innovative solutions to school design. Green terraces at each floor become an extension of the classrooms, creating an indoor-outdoor learning landscape for both students and teachers — an educational oasis rather than a traditional school setting, addressing the academic needs of the school’s program while forming a vertical community within its dense urban context.

About the Panel

Tony-Saba Shiber AIA | Senior Architect, Designer at Bjarke Ingels Group
Daniel Sundlin | Partner, Bjarke Ingels Group
Aran Coakley, AIA | Project Manager, Bjarke Ingels Group
Andrew Graham, AIA | Senior Associate, Senior Architect, Leo A Daly
Dr. Casey Robinson | Principal, Arlington Public Schools
Jason Myers, PE, SE, LEED AP BD+C | Associate, Silman
Tyler Swartzwelder, DBIA, LEED AP | Senior Project Executive, Gilbane
Jenine Kotob, AIA | Chair, AIA Northern Virginia CAE

Watch a recording of that discussion below.

Learn more about this innovative learning facility visit the AIA Northern Virginia Virtual Tour site.

ELA Class of 2020 – Our Journey

Our journey as the AIA Virginia ELA Class of 2020, was unprecedented for many reasons. Tasked with finding ways to transform the city Portsmouth and create an equitable, vibrant and a resilient downtown was a challenge from afar. With the social and political crises and the challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic brought to test how the in-person program functions, our team managed to match the scale of the hurdles with the amount of dedication and passion we all brought to the table. This program is designed to bring select designers and architects from across the state of Virginia to hone their skills as future leaders, give the the opportunity to widen networks, all while meeting with other designers from varying points in their careers. As a group, we gained much more than we initially expected, and we experienced much more than we could have ever imagined. As the class of 2020, (Ariana Arenius, Catherine C. Hendrick, Paris Casey, Kenneth Johnston, Christopher Cheng, Kristin L. Jones, Amanda Ferzoco, Mert Kansu, Michael Lawson, Zach Robinson, James Vidoni, Jacob Sherry, Gabriela Orizondo, Matt C. Stevison, Allison Powell, and Randa Malkawi) we are thankful for all the individuals and organizations who have made this program possible, and how it helped us improve as designers, architects, and citizens.

Emerging Leaders in Architecture – Class of 2020 in Portsmouth, Virginia.

We started with bi-weekly tele-conferences for group and distributed tasks early in order to best coordinate. This made the transition to working from home and conducting the class fully virtually as smooth as possible. From the initial stages of the project research, we understood that any architectural intervention should reflect what the community desired. We did not aim to reform, transform, or rebrand the city without their involvement and accompaniment along the way. We believe what Portsmouth has in its local culture, history, and soul is invaluable. All we needed to do was make the right supporting moves as designers to reveal and compliment what was already present. Since we were not able to meet community members face-to-face, we utilized digital tools such as online surveys, social media advertisements, and digital flyers to reach out to the residents in survey form to get their opinions on what they feel was missing or could be improved in the city. With this survey data, site analyses, and research from past master planning efforts, we were able to pinpoint three main sites to focus our energy. We have selected two anchor sites, connected between with a re-envisioned street (High Street). These sites would help attract residents as well as visitors to the city, bringing a pedestrian friendly atmosphere to boost the commerce along High Street. This in turn could help kickstart a chain of development improvements throughout Portsmouth.

The Green Street Crossing site, located at the intersection of High and Green Streets, was an abandoned site of a former Church, since burnt down. Housing a large building mural of the Battle of Craney Island, this site has been envisioned as a park that includes green spaces, resting areas, a playground, and a community center. On redesigned High Street, more room for green space gives way to slowing traffic with pavement interventions and a more pedestrian and bike friendly setting. The High Street Landing site sits at the end of High Street at the waterfront. This development, already partially constructed in downtown Portsmouth, has been a commendable success, however the connection to the business corridor is lacking. An inlet housing music events and a dock for small boats is improves into an urban park with an educational and bio-diverse terrace containing oyster beds. This move  brings back the local biome to the water’s edge, helping with stormwater runoff. An improved dock and a new pavilion building on the edge of the waterfront brings a dynamic stronghold to the coastline view from across the river. As the pedestrian walks inland towards the High Street corridor, the street is pedestrian oriented, but still allowing one way traffic. This area is flexible, with Farmer’s Market stalls in place for public use except during market hours.

Efforts were organized into parcels and concepts that can be individually phased to be more realistically funded and built. The intention was to have a multi-scale approach to our design. As a part of this effort, we wanted to zoom in to the human scale, the daily life of a person that is walking or driving around Portsmouth. With Wayfinding & Signage studies, we developed a package that included a vision of what wayfinding objects, street furniture, signage, and city art could look like, in order to reinforce the Portsmouth brand. As this design could spread farther away from the core downtown, we looked into redesigning the look of the tunnels, to instill a strong impression of the city for those traveling through.

With the art installation, named “The P” (as in Portsmouth,) iterations of a steel P shaped object have been created that could exist in different locations throughout the city. Made from oxidized steel, a familiar material to this historic naval city, we imagined this object could be a way for the community to come together, gather their expertise in artisans, and build a branded object which would be placed along the streets that are walked everyday.

Our work has been extensive, but we could not be happier with the results of this challenge. We have worked passionately to present something that could help improve Portsmouth. We gathered our work for this year into a book and gave multiple presentations to the community members, local organizations, and city officials. Months after our official graduation from the program, we are still in touch with the City, and working hard as a group to keep the conversation going to get construction started. We love the excitement that has resonated with the locals who have heard about the work. Our dream is that the city benefits, and in some way the work we have done can catalyze action among officials and developers to help realize the great potential that the city contains already.