Where did you go to college?

I received my Bachelor of Architecture degree from The University of Texas in Arlington and Yes, I am a Texan and wear cowboy boots on occasion!

Kevin Sneed, FAIA

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person?

Yes, there has been an increase in the interest in Architecture because of the relationship of the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Math but let’s not forget the “Arts.” Also, there are a few Schools of Architecture and AIA chapters that are forming architecture camps to provide this inspiration to young adults in becoming Architects. Architecture has been one of the most critical points in shaping my life.

Now, with the advent of STEM programs and legislation in the US House of Representatives to officially consider architecture a part of STEM education young people will have additional support and many different programs available to them.

What does it take to be an architect?

To be an Architect, you must have patience and a genuine love of the art, design, and science.

In addition, a talent that one is often lacking in our profession is an in-depth understanding of the “business” side of architecture. Possessing the relevant knowledge of and skill in finance, negotiation, and strategic planning are critical keys to a successful practice.

And the aptitude to successfully both offer and accept criticism is an oft-overlooked skill, in architecture as in so many other fields. When offering criticism, take care to frame your thoughts in a way that will be respectful of, and constructive to, your colleague. In taking criticism, listen carefully to any concerns, and do not take them as a personal attack. Criticism may not be comfortable, but it is necessary for our profession at every level.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?

In college, one of my professors introduced me to O.M. Ungers who, at that time, was considered a minimalist architect. After college, I was inspired by the work of California Architect Paul R. Williams not only for his style of architecture but for his professional and personal life experiences during his extensive career. It was great to see Paul Williams receive the AIA’s Gold medal which was awarded posthumously in 2017 for his significant body of work and his influence he had in the architecture industry.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books. One, Malcolm Gladwell’s “David & Goliath” and two, “The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship” by Harold Zellman and Roger Friedland. I love reading books about Frank Lloyd Wright!

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

The Steak Au Poivre at the Le Diplomate in Washington, DC along with my favorite bourbon cocktail there called the “Clouseau.” It reminds me of my honeymoon with my wife in Paris.  

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?

My grandmother taught me to always give back to the community where you live and to serve in the organization you believe in. I have a love for architecture and helping in this organization gives me the pleasure of giving back and making a difference. Since 1987, the AIA Northern Virginia chapter has provided me with that springboard and platform on which my participation is based such as from the Young Architects Forum, the Virginia AIA Board, providing my expertise on the City of Alexandria’s Parker-Gray Historic District Board of Architectural Review and on to the AIA College of Fellows today. The AIA’s “Citizen Architect” is a reflection of these qualities. And the use of one’s insights, talents and experiences to give back to the community should be a necessity for all architects in the industry.