1140 Formosa Ave. Lorcan O' Herlihy Architects.
1140 Formosa Ave. Lorcan O’ Herlihy Architects. Photo by Lawrence Anderson.

It is often said that beauty is only skin deep, and yet striking — sometimes astonishing —  façades are quickly becoming a device to charm developers, funders, and the public alike. Clients are beginning to understand what architects have long known: innovative building skins can be used to woo investors and buyers for commercial projects as well as funders for museums and universities. Because apparently impossible structures jar us out of our everyday pursuits and force us to contemplate the built-environment, unusual façades generate a tremendous amount public interest in contemporary architecture as well. But more than just a potential selling point, building skins are evolving as new computer technologies, new materials and new societal behaviors are changing the perception of architecture.  As architecture is functioning more as a synthetic organism working within its surrounding ecosystem, more literal comparisons are being made between biological skins and built skins, and thus the topic for the tenth bi-annual Virginia Design Forum was born.

The Virginia Society AIA has assembled some of the world’s most acknowledged experts on building skins to speak at the upcoming tenth Virginia Design Forum: SKINS in Charlottesville on March 16 and 17, 2012. Registration is open.

About the speakers:

Keynote Speaker

3XN's Bella Sky Hotel. Image courtesy of 3XN.
3XN’s Bella Sky Hotel. Image courtesy of 3XN.

Kim Herforth Nielsen, MAA, RIBA of 3XN, Copenhagen

Kim Herforth Nielsen is founder and principal of 3XN. He graduated from the Aarhus School of Architecture in 1981 and was one of three founders of 3XN in 1986 (all with the surname Nielsen). He has been involved in all the practice’s major projects, including The Blue Planet, Kubus in Berlin, Museum of Liverpool, Ørestad College, Muziekgebouw Concert Hall in Amsterdam, the Danish Embassy in Berlin, and the Architects’ House in Copenhagen. Often called upon as a jury member in international architectural competitions, and as lecturer at art academies and universities around the world, Nielsen is also a Knight of Dannebrog and has received Denmark’s highest architectural honor, the C.F. Hansen Medaille.



LOHA's Habitat 825. Photo by Lawrence Anderson.
LOHA’s Habitat 825. Photo by Lawrence Anderson.

Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA, of Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Los Angeles

Since LOHA’s inception in 1990, founder and principal Lorcan O’Herlihy has sought opportunities to engage the operative layers of the urban landscape with respect to spatial, sensory, and experiential information. In 2004, the Architectural League of New York selected O’Herlihy as one of eight Emerging Voices.  His firm has garnered 42 national and international awards including 17 AIA Design Awards. He has taught and lectured extensively over the last decade, including the Architectural Association in London, Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, Columbia University, New York, and the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., among others. Previously, Lorcan worked at Kevin Roche/John Dinkeloo & Assoc. on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at I.M. Pei and Partners on the celebrated Grande Louvre Museum in Paris, and as an associate at Steven Holl Architects, where he was responsible for several project, including the award-winning Hybrid Building in Seaside, Fla., which received a National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.


Marc Simmons, Front Inc., New York City

Marc Simmons, a founder of the New York-based façade-engineering and-design consultancy firm Front Inc., is a faculty member at the Princeton University School of Architecture and holds both a bachelor of environmental studies and professional BArch degrees from the University of Waterloo, Canada. His specialist façade knowledge and experience in custom curtainwall and hybrid cladding system design is built upon previous work at Foster and Partners, Meinhardt Façade Technology, and the structural glass and façade consulting group at Dewhurst Macfarlane & Partners in New York.

Voussoir Cloud by IwamotoScott with Buro Happold
Voussoir Cloud by IwamotoScott with Buro Happold. Image courtesy IwamotoScott.

Lisa Iwamoto of IwamotoScott Architecture, San Francisco

Lisa Iwamoto received her MArch from Harvard University, and a BS in Structural Engineering from the University of Colorado. She has worked as a Structural Engineer at Bechtel Corporation, and Architectural Designer at Schwartz Silver Architects, Thompson and Rose, and Architectural Intern at Morphosis. She previously taught at the University of Michigan where she was a Muschenheim Fellow, and Harvard University. Currently she is an Assistant Professor at University of California Berkeley where her design research concentrates on the perceptual performance of material and digital fabrication techniques.


The Virginia Design Forum X is sponsored by:

Special thanks to our sponsors

Benefactor Sponsors 

Clark Nexsen

College of William and Mary

HITT Contracting, Inc.

Mathers Construction Team

Potomac Energy Group, Inc.

US Smoke & Fire


Patron Sponsors 

Perkins Eastman

EvensonBest LLC


Sustaining Sponsors 

Hanbury, Evans, Wright Vlattas + Company

University of Virginia School of Architecture

School of Architecture + Design, Virginia Tech


Supporting Sponsors

AIA Northern Virginia

Alliance Lighting

Atlas Carpet Mills

BCWH Architecture Interiors Planning

Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS

Forrester Construction Company

Green Roofs of VA/McNeil Roofing, Inc.

Pinnacle Architectural Lighting/Ambiance Lighting

Pyrok, Inc.

Seaman Corporation’s FiberTite Roofing Systems

The Snead Co.

Steel Windows and Doors

VMDO Architects

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.