Donna Woodrum Dunay, FAIA, will be recognized with the William C. Noland Medal by AIA Virginia for her significant and sustained work across education, advocacy, service to the profession, and leadership. As the highest honor bestowed by AIA Virginia upon an architect, the Noland Medal is intended to honor a distinguished body of accomplishments, sustained over time, spanning a broad spectrum of the profession, and transcending the scope of normal professional activities. The honor is in memory of William C. Noland, FAIA, one of the founders of the AIA in Virginia, its second president, and Virginia’s first member to be elevated to fellowship.
A graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Dunay has has practiced the university moto, Ut Prosim’ that I may serve, her entire career. She was appointed its G. Truman Ward Professor of Architecture in recognition of her outstanding integration of critical knowledge through teaching, community service, and research. Her significant contributions to and through her students in her design studio and “What Makes a Town” course have created a legacy of excellence that stands as a tribute to the profession. Her book, Town Architecture: Understanding a Virginia Town, transformed the planning directives of many small towns through articulate, descriptive, and insightful research, as did the town forums it generated, many of which Dunay herself led.
Dunay’s nominators called her “immensely gifted and keenly devoted, yet thoroughly humble” and “one of our own” who has “wielded an influence and international impact well-beyond what most of us could only hope to achieve.” Each noted that thousands of Virginia Tech students credit their professional success to her role as their teacher, mentor, and guide. But it is the quality of architectural education that Dunay’s students remember as transformative and enduring. “She endows her students with a sensitivity and a curiosity that compels life-long learning; they seek to understand more than to be understood,” one wrote. Thanks to Dunay, “they look beneath the surface to understand deeply, think critically, and act wisely.” Her dedication to educational collaboration has provided seminal contributions in creating and maintaining a top ranked national architecture program.
And her influence extends well beyond her work as an educator. As chair of the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA), Dunay has advanced the stature of women in the profession globally by elevating this vital resource for research and scholarship. Beyond the more than 450 collections she has helped the IAWA amass, Dunay initiated and has chaired the IAWA Annual Research Prize, which has been awarded to researchers in seven countries over the last two decades.
Dunay’s service to the profession includes roles on the National Architecture Accreditation Board, the AIA National Strategic Council, and innumerable design juries, panels, colloquia, and committees. Her awards range from several AIA Virginia design awards to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor (DPACSA), and most recently the DesignIntelligence’s Most Admired Educator Award (Architecture) in 2020, with dozens between. She has initiated and collaborated on exhibitions and symposia that have been presented internationally.
For the wide scope of her work and its international impact, Donna Dunay FAIA, will be recognized with the William C. Noland Medal at the Visions for Architecture gala on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and online.