Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA
Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA

Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, has been selected to receive the Society’s highest honor bestowed upon an architect — the William C. Noland Medal. She will be recognized during the Annual Meeting of the Membership at Architecture Exchange East on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at 1 p.m. in room E11b. The Medal will be presented at the Visions for Architecture gala on Friday, Nov. 9, at the Hotel John Marshall.

The award recognizes a lifetime of achievement for an individual architect. Her work to advance the profession, nurture emerging professionals, and elevate public awareness of the contributions architects make to the community, has benefitted thousands of individual architects and firms — not just in Virginia and the United States — but throughout the entire world. “Helene is without a doubt the most influential architect I know,” says colleague Timm Jamieson, FAIA. “She exemplifies what we all want to be in this profession … and we are each the better for [her] service.”

Dreiling has dedicated decades of service and leadership to the American Institute of Architects, culminating in her recent election as First Vice President/President-Elect.  She will serve as President of the AIA in 2014. The road to this position features a series of notable milestones, including her election as the first female president of AIA Blue Ridge and the first female Director of the Region of the Virginias. She was the first woman from AIA Blue Ridge, and youngest member in Virginia, to be elevated to the College of Fellows. These accomplishments serve as a beacon for those who follow in her footsteps. “Helene has done more than just to serve,” say former Institute secretaries Betsey and Brian Dougherty. “She has touched those people and those issues that she is passionate about and dedicated to, and has made each of us a better volunteer and a better professional through her sensitivity, insight and guidance.”

Throughout her service, Dreiling became one of the AIA’s most ardent and respected voices in support of emerging professionals and the benefits of lifelong learning.  Her work on a host of key task forces and committees not only helped streamline the AIA’s Continuing Education System, but also helped lead a shift towards a more seamless transition in education, training, and practice, by redefining the term “intern” and un-bundling the Architecture Registration Examination(ARE).

Her ongoing commitment to educating the broader public about the value of architects and good design began early in her career with her work at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Later, she was singularly responsible for curating Virginia Women in Architecture, a highly acclaimed exhibition spotlighting the work of Virginia’s female architects. This passion for educational outreach continued as she managed the Institute’s AIA150 celebration and oversaw the creation of the nationally-recognized America’s Favorite Architecture exhibition and website.   In her short time as the Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, she has helped shepherd the Center to a position of financial and programmatic strength. “All members of the profession in Virginia will benefit as the public develops a greater understanding of the power of architecture,” says VCA Trustee Ellen S. Cathy, AIA.

“Helene superbly exemplifies those personal qualities and life-altering achievements for which the Society’s William C. Noland Medal is designed to recognize and celebrate,” said Paul H. Barkley, FAIA. In making this award, the Society recognizes a career-long dedication to her fellow architects and the profession of architecture.

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