Remote Work During COVID-19: Webinar Recording and Notes

On Friday, March 20, 2020, AIA Virginia hosted an open discussion on managing and working in remote teams. Several Virginia architecture firm leaders shared their approaches, best practices, and lessons learned.

Robert Clark, PE |Baskervill
Nick Cooper, AIA | HKS
Bill Hopkins, AIA | Hanbury
Rob Reis, AIA | Hanbury

Moderated by: Corey Clayborne, FAIA

Listen to the webinar and read the key takeaways below.

Key Takeaways

  • Communication and transparency are key.
  • When comfortable, share your camera during video calls. It enhances communication when people can see facial expressions.
  • Maintaining a sense of community is important. One firm hosted a virtual happy hour where team members shared their favorite drink recipes. Another gives awards for best hat or hairstyle during online team meetings.
  • Firms are using GoToMeeting, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and Slack to stay in touch with each other and clients.
  • The biggest challenges so far have included audio quality and broadband/wifi issues.
  • Test technology in advance so meetings can start on time and glitches are minimized.
  • Consider business continuity. If you do not have a continuity plan in place, begin planning now in the event that key team members become ill.
  • If you don’t already have them in place, consider enacting policies regarding remote work, travel, and meetings that address the current call for social distancing.
  • Don’t forget to care for your well-being and mental health. Schedule breaks to walk around and get fresh air.
  • Try to carve out a working environment that matches your traditional space.
  • Temper your expectations. Your schedule may need to be flexible. With flexibility, comes transparency. Don’t forget to communicate.

Emerging Professionals Summit

On Friday, March 6, 2020, AIA Virginia convened YAF and Emerging Professional leaders from around the state to build connections, share resources, and identify service redundancies and gaps in services.

This group of leaders will continue to meet regularly in-person and via conference calls to discuss ways to support our emerging professionals.

Get Licensed

A Very Discounted Amber Book Opportunity

AIA Virginia will be providing the Amber Book to 24 Associate members this Spring for $50.  The sign-up will open on March 23, 2020 via an email announcement from AIA Virginia.

Here are the parameters:

  1. Upon receiving the email announcement, be one of the first 24 Associate members to sign up on March 23. This is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  2. The Amber Book will only be accessible for a two-month period and all licenses will commence at the same time.
  3. If you become one of the 24 recipients, you must sign an agreement that states you will register for all of your ARE exams when the Amber Book enrollment ends.
  4. Send AIA Virginia a screenshot proving you have registered for all of your exams.
  5. Let us know how many exams you pass on your first shot.

ELA Class Update

Get sixteen people in a room with different backgrounds, strengths, design philosophies, and passions, and what do you get? An incredible array of concepts that address a variety of problems in order to arrive, not to a single solution, but to a strong combination of ideas.

This is what the ELA class of 2020 has been focusing on for the past two months. In January the class got together for the first time, and through ‘Pecha Kucha’ presentations, students had three minutes to introduce themselves to fellow classmates and members of the executive committee. After an overview of the program, a team photo and a delicious lunch, the team got to hear from renowned design professionals in the industry. Bryan Clark Green Ph.D., LEED AP BD+C talked about the importance and emergence of our profession, followed by Kelly O’Keefe who gave an inspiring lecture on the importance of creative thinking and problem solving through design.

A month later, the team met in Portsmouth, VA for its second session of the program. It was then that the project brief was revealed. The class has to develop a project that focuses on promoting the growth of Downtown and Olde Towne Portsmouth districts. During the session, we heard from Brian Swets, AICP and Robert Moore, Director of Economic Development, about the city’s geography, history, culture, economy, social structure, and the city’s development plans. Afterward Nathan Lahy, PLA, ASLA discussed how to effectively and creatively transform underutilized “leftover spaces”. Following a walking tour led by Carl Jackson, AICP, Dick Gresham showed the team how to utilize and implement Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. The Friday session culminated with a presentation from Georgie Márquez, AIA on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

On Saturday morning the team got together to begin strategizing on how to tackle this very intentionally vague brief. Everyone had an opportunity to voice their thoughts on what this project is, who the clients are, and how is a group of 16 ‘students’ from different cities in Virginia going to approach this challenge. After long discussions, it seemed that similar concepts emerged in different forms, but these ideas were still too fresh and unpolished to decide on just one. Ideas were written down, notes were taken, polls were sent out, folders were created, calls were scheduled, and action items were assigned. The team left the meeting excited and motivated about the future sessions and project discussions. As not to lose any momentum, the team has kept in contact and is now working on refining ideas to select a client, a project type, and a scale to successfully complete the challenge that has been presented to them.

The class will meet again this month to discuss individual strengths and professionalism. This session will help the class explore and understand their top strengths, while also guiding them to recognize their roles within the group. The team is looking forward to meeting once again to further the discussion in person about the development of the project.

Submitted by Gabriela Orizondo, Assoc. AIA, 2020 ELA class member.

Jury Announced for 2020 AIA Virginia Prize

AIA Virginia is pleased to announce the jury for the 2020 AIA Virginia Prize. The competition — which took place over the weekend of Jan. 24–27 — challenged students to design an oyster hatchery in Norfolk. Students were asked to imagine sustainable solutions where humans and nature could gracefully coexist. [Read the full competition brief.]

Each school’s faculty reviews the submissions and sends up to 10 finalists to Richmond for final consideration by the jury.


Bob Moje, FAIA, founding partner, VMDO Architects | Jury Chair
Patrick Farley, AIA, owner, Patrick Farley Architect
Lynden Garland, AIA, project manager, Baskervill
Donna Phaneuf, FAIA, president and lead design principal, VIA Design Architects
Chuck Swartz, FAIA, principal, Reader & Swartz Architects

The Prize is expected to be awarded in April.

About the AIA Virginia Prize

Conducted simultaneously at Hampton UniversityUniversity of VirginiaVirginia Tech, and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, the competition is a design charrette that engages students at all of the accredited schools of architecture in Virginia. Students are given the competition program on a Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. They work over the weekend to create a design solution and submit it by 9 a.m. the following Monday. The top submission wins a $2,2500 prize, with $250 prizes to each “Best of School” honoree.

Launched in 1980, the competition is intended to promote collaboration between the profession, students, and professors in Virginia. Historically, the charrette has taken place in January, however over the last several years, the competition has been hosted in September to accommodate an ongoing scheduling conflict at one of the schools. Now that the conflict has been resolved, the Prize weekend has shifted back to the spring semester to better align with the demands of the academic calendar.

Development of the competition brief rotates between the four schools annually — the 2020 Prize challenge was developed by Hampton University.

2020 Student Design Competition Launched

The AIA Virginia Prize design competition kicks off the new semester by offering students the opportunity to win a $2,250 prize. Three additional $250 “Best of School” prizes will also be awarded. The competition is a design charrette that engages students at all of the accredited schools of architecture in Virginia. The 2020 AIA Virginia Prize, which challenged students to design an oyster hatchery in Norfolk, launched Friday, Jan. 24 at 5 p.m and ran through Monday, Jan.27 at 9 a.m. Read the complete prize brief.

Conducted simultaneously at Hampton University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, students work over the weekend to create a design solution. Each school’s faculty reviews the submissions and sends up to 10 finalists to AIA Virginia for judging.

Development of the competition brief rotates between the four schools annually — the 2020 Prize challenge was developed by Hampton University.

The competition was launched in 1980 and is intended to promote collaboration between the profession, students, and professors in Virginia. Watch for announcement about the winner in the coming months.

To learn about last year’s competition, check out the 2019 AIA Virginia Prize Announcement.

Interested in Architecture Tours?

We’ve received some great suggestions for multi-day architectural tours that offer the opportunity to earn learning units while exploring interesting and significant sites. We think they sound exciting, but we want to make sure you do too before exploring them further! Let us know by completing this 30-second survey.

Jefferson Pools and Homestead Tour
This multi-day event would involve overnight travel to the Omni Homestead Resort. Tour the newly restored Jefferson Pools (anticipated completion 2021) and get a behind-the-scenes look at the phased renovation of the resort. The program may include visits to other nearby sites.

Architectural Tour of Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail
The multi-day tour would involve overnight travel to destinations along Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail. Discover some of the unique challenges of distillery design and visit some of the architecturally significant stops along the trail.

(final programs may vary)

Your response is not an obligation to participate – we just want to see if enough members are interested before investing in further planning.

Have other programming ideas to share? Email your suggestions to Rhea George.

Class of 2020

The 2020 Class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture includes:

Allison Powell, AIA
Amanda Ferzoco, Associate AIA
Ariana Arenius, AIAS
Catherine Hendrick, AIA
Chris Cheng, AIAS
Gabriela Orizondo, Associate AIA
Jacob Sherry, AIA
James Vidoni, Associate AIA
Kenneth Johnston, Associate AIA
Kristin Jones, Associate AIA
Matt Stevison, Associate AIA
Mert Kansu, Associate AIA
Michael Lawson, AIA
Paris Casey, AIAS
Randa Malkawi, AIAS
Zachary Robinson, Associate AIA

Also pictured are Interim Chair, Christopher Kehde, AIA, Vice-Chair, Nick Cooper, AIA, and ELA 2019 member Divya Nautiyal, Assoc. AIA.

POSTPONED: Design Forum Explores Shadows, Craft and Materiality

As recommendations to protect public health rapidly evolve, we believe it is prudent to postpone the Design Forum. AIA Virginia will be working with our speakers and venue to identify a new date for this exciting program. Watch this page for an announcement regarding new dates. We will be in touch with ticket holders as soon as details can be finalized. Refunds will be available for those who are not able to join us for the rescheduled program.

Junichiro Tanizaki, in his book In Praise of Shadows writes, “In darkness, immutable tranquility holds sway.” Designers integrate this interplay of light, color, and shadow in the spaces they imagine — navigating the clarity that light brings alongside the ephemeral mystery of the shadows.

Inspired by this 73-page homage to “well-placed darkness,” the fourteenth biennial Virginia Design Forum: In Praise of Shadows embraces this theme through an exploration of craft and materiality.

The program, which is intended to challenge and stimulate design and creative thinking, was scheduled to take place on March 27–28, 2020, at the recently-opened Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Through a series of conversations, the Design Forum showcases the work of talented individuals whose shared craft extends beyond the calculated and strictly quantitative into more holistic practice — whose leading-edge preoccupation with light and shadow extends the diversity of approaches to how designers seek beauty through form, space, and materiality.

The work of the speakers embodies those essential connections.

About the Speakers
These thought leaders come from diverse cultural and professional contexts, yet their work shares the power and nuance of how architects and allied professionals shape form through light. Through engaging the continuum of dim to bright, these designers shape our experience.

Steven Holl, FAIA (Steven Holl Architects | New York, NY)
Steven Holl is widely recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.

Kirsten Murray, FAIA (Olson Kundig | Seattle, WA)
Throughout her 30-year tenure at Olson Kundig, Kirsten Murray has created buildings and spaces that strengthen and enrich communities. Long inspired by Scandinavian modernist traditions, her architecture emphasizes warmth, natural materiality, tactility and refinement. By translating the innate conditions of a site—its nature, culture, topography and history—into built form, Murray’s designs create new interpretations of place that remain relevant over time.

Herve Descottes (L’Observitoire International, New York, NY)
In 1993, Hervé Descottes co-founded the lighting design firm L’Observatoire International in New York City after eight years of design practice in Paris, France. Descottes creates the lighting concepts for all projects designed by L’Observatoire, and oversees project development through project completion. He has been recognized numerous times by the lighting design and architectural community.

David J. Lewis, AIA (LTL Architects, New York, NY)
David Lewis is founding principal of LTL Architects, a design intensive architecture firm founded in 1997 with Paul Lewis and Marc Tsurumaki, located in New York City. LTL Architects develops solutions that work within project constraints to inform the design trajectory, exploring opportunistic overlaps between space, program, form, budget, and materials.

Introduced and moderated by:
Kendall Buster
Kendall Buster earned a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues nationally and internationally.

Online registration will reopen as soon as details can be finalized.

The Design Forum is generously sponsored by:

Clark Nexsen

AIA Richmond
Nydree Flooring
School of Architecture + Design at Virginia Tech
UVA School of Architecture
William & Mary, Art & Art History

American Hydrotech, Inc.
Moseley Architects
Quinn Evans

Ascent Engineering Group, Inc.
Glo Windows and Doors
Lighting Environments
Reader & Swartz Architects

AIA Northern Virginia
Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan
Gulf Seaboard General Contractors, Inc.
Pella Windows of Virginia
Pyrok, Inc.
Sustainable Design Consulting, LLC

About the Schedule

The health, safety and welfare of our attendees, speakers, and staff are a top priority.

We’re monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) regarding COVID-19.

As recommendations to protect public health rapidly evolve, we believe it is prudent to postpone the Design Forum. AIA Virginia will be working with our speakers and venue to identify a new date for this exciting program.

We will be in touch with ticketholders as soon as details can be finalized. Refunds will be available for those who are not able to join us for the rescheduled program.


AIA/Allied Member: $185
Assoc. AIA Member: $60
Non-member: $225
Friday Keynote Only: $90
Student: $30 (students actively enrolled in a degree program are eligible)

Earn up to 8 AIA/CES learning units.

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact Judy Cheadle.

Virginia’s Fire Safety and Prevention Codes

When buildings or structures, except exempt structures such as farm structures, are constructed in Virginia and when work is done on existing buildings and structures, the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) ensures that a minimum level of safety is achieved. After the work is completed, the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) ensures that the level of safety in those buildings and structures is maintained. The USBC regulates construction-related aspects of fire safety and the SFPC regulates certain maintenance and operational related aspects of fire safety in existing buildings and outdoors. Both regulations incorporate provisions of the International Fire Code (IFC), a national model code that contains a comprehensive set of fire safety regulations that was developed to be used as a stand-alone code in jurisdictions that do not have a building code, or to be used in conjunction with the International Building Code (IBC) in localities that utilize the IBC as their model building code. The IFC also contains fire prevention regulations related to operations and the maintenance of buildings, structures, and systems, that can be referenced in jurisdictions that have a fire prevention code.

In Virginia, the IBC is incorporated as part of the USBC for construction. The IBC references the IFC for requirements related to hazardous materials, spray finishing, high-piled combustible storage, tents, and several other items. Each time the IFC is referenced, those provisions of the IFC are incorporated as an enforceable part of the IBC, and since the IBC is incorporated as part of the USBC, those referenced provisions of the IFC are incorporated as part of the USBC. When enforcing the USBC, it is important to remember that any references to the IFC are just that, and are not a reference to the SFPC.

The SFPC in Virginia is applicable to certain operations and to the maintenance of buildings and structures after a certificate of occupancy is issued or the work regulated by the USBC is completed and approved. It also includes some regulations specific to items that are not regulated by the USBC, such as food trucks. The SFPC incorporates those portions of the IFC, not incorporated by the USBC, that are related only to operations and the maintenance of buildings, structures, equipment, activities, and systems. The administrative provisions of the SFPC state that any provisions of the model codes that relate to the scope of enforcement of the code are deleted and replaced by the administrative provisions of the SFPC. Since the scope of the SFPC does not include the design, construction or installation of buildings, structures, systems, equipment or fire protection systems, those provisions are not incorporated as part of the SFPC.

The Virginia SFPC was edited during the 2015 code update cycle to remove references to construction requirements brought in from the IFC, in an effort to eliminate confusion over what is enforceable in the SFPC and what is not.

Local governments in Virginia are required to enforce the USBC. Enforcement of the SFPC is at the option of the local governments. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has the authority to enforce the SFPC in those localities in which there is no local SFPC enforcement.

The USBC and SFPC contain enforcement procedures that must be used by the enforcing agency as well as provisions for administrative appeals to resolve disagreements that may occur between the enforcing agencies and an aggrieved party.

Submitted by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development