We are living during in a very bizarre time. Coping with a world- wide pandemic is not something any of us has experience with. It is very unsettling, from both a physical health perspective, and also from a financial health perspective. Additionally, human beings are social creatures by nature, and it feels uncomfortable to lose the common, everyday interactions that we took for granted, like just walking downtown for lunch, greeting friends and acquaintances along the way. Gathering around a table and sketching with “bumwad” and Sharpies. Having a beer with your co-workers at the end of a tough work week or a big deadline.

2020 AIA Virginia President, Beth Reader, FAIA

Now that most of us are working remotely, we’re bound to feel a little isolated. There is a way, however, to connect with other architects across the Commonwealth, and it’s through the AIA Virginia Roundtables. There are four of them in existence—the Small Firm, the Mid- Size Firm, the Large Firm, and the Emerging Professionals Roundtables. The Roundtables have existed for several years now, and have met during Architecture Exchange East and the Art of Practice conferences. Now they are becoming more active. Each of the four Roundtables last met via Zoom during the week of April 21 -24. There was a great turnout (although we were a little short on Mid-Size firm participants). There are now plans for the Roundtables to meet more frequently– some once a month, others quarterly.

During their virtual meetings, Roundtable participants discussed lots of relevant topics, like trying to collaborate creatively while working in isolation, virtually interviewing for projects, maintaining firm culture and morale, obtaining community input on public projects, making site visits while socially distancing, and even employees’ increased interest in working remotely after the pandemic subsides. On a positive note, there were also discussions among Roundtable participants that residential work inquiries may increase during this time, because potential clients, quarantined at home, are taking stock of their houses’ inadequacies. Another positive that could come out of the pandemic is that firms may allow staff members more leeway to selectively telework, thereby helping those who need more flexible schedules to accommodate their caretaking roles.

I encourage you to participate in these Roundtable discussions, which are accessible to you no matter where you’re located in Virginia. Ask your colleagues how they are dealing with issues that you or your firm is confronting. If you would like to participate please contact these Roundtable Chairs:

Dan Zimmerman, AIA, Small Firm Roundtable

Andrew McKinley, AIA, Mid- Size Firm Roundtable

Paul Battaglia, AIA, Large Firm Roundtable

Krystal Anderson, AIA, Emerging Professional Roundtable

Please realize that you’re not in this alone. Your fellow AIA Virginia colleagues and staff are here as a resource for you.

With best regards,