While logic and planning serve as the foundation for collaboration in the design process, artistic intention is essential in Manoj Dalaya’s approach to design. His high-performance, fortified spaces embrace art, environment, and community — all while integrating the security, infrastructure, and technological requirements of secure campuses. A principal at KGD Architecture, Dalaya serves on the AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Executive Committee and chairs their Design Awards Committee. He lends his architectural and real estate expertise to several Washington, D.C. area urban development committees and to architecture and real estate students at local universities. He was honored with AIA Virginia’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in 2018.

Where did you go to college?
I received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Bombay, India. I also attended the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC) Consortium while obtaining a Master of Architecture degree from Miami University of Ohio.

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person?
Architecture presents a unique opportunity for young people to make a profound and positive impact on society through creating the built environment, and I like to inspire young people to be part of this dynamic field.

What does it take to be an architect?
The architect engages all stakeholders and interprets their needs and aspirations to create a successful built environment. While logic and planning can serve as the foundation for the collaboration, artistic and creative intent is necessary to create successful projects that will inspire and serve society.

Was there an architect who particularly inspired you?
When I was in high school, someone gave me a book called Individual Creations that featured some outstanding architects. The building that really inspired me was Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko)
in Helsinki, designed by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, who won a design competition. I recognized that there existed a profession in which one could blend science and art.

What are you currently reading?
I enjoy reading the Swedish crime fiction writer Henning Mankell, the author of the Wallander series. His final novel, Quicksand, published in English four months after his death, is turning out to be a beautiful book with its perspective on humanity’s existence during great chunks of time between ice ages.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
One of the best meals was at Dionysos Zonar’s, Pnyx Hill in Athens. The meal was simple: cheese, wine, olives, and fresh bread. The view overlooking the city’s hills and the Acropolis was magnificent.

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?
We have unprecedented challenges that we face with climate change and deteriorating infrastructure. Understanding and influencing the architect’s role in designing a better future for our communities are best done by engagement with the AIA. If we wish to be architects of a better society and a promising future, our collective voice is more likely to be clear, sharp, and better heard by policymakers.