Greetings Colleagues,

We are pleased to report on the activities of AIA Virginia for the first quarter of 2016. Truly, it has been a memorable quarter with excellent efforts on many fronts for the benefit of our members.

Nick Vlattas, AIA
Nick Vlattas, AIA
2016 President, AIA Virginia

We tipped off April in fine fashion with DESIGN FORUM XII held at the Slover Library in Norfolk designed by the partnership of Newman Architects and Tymoff + Moss Architects which provided an inspirational setting. It was a rainy weekend in Norfolk, but it did not dampen the spirits of the 160 in attendance and it kept us focused on our theme, TRANSFORMATION: The Turning Point, and the issues of sea level rise and resilient design.

Dr. Z Smith, AIA, Principal and Director of Sustainability and Building Performance at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, winner of the 2014 AIA Firm Award served as our dynamic moderator, orchestrating DESIGN FORUM XII which included keynote presentations by Jason Long of OMA in New York, Anne Fougeron, FAIA, of Fougeron Architecture in San Francisco, Archie Lee Coates, IV, of PlayLab Inc. in New York, and Stephen Kieran, FAIA, of Kieran Timberlake in Philadelphia.

Jason Long presented many examples of connecting the virtual world to the actual world while Anne Fougeron, FAIA, made the connection of architect as artisan and activist. Archie Coates spoke from his heart on inspirations that change our lives, while Stephen Kieran, FAIA, in “Power of Tens” style, opened our eyes to sea level rise in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and challenged us on what we were going to do about it in our own practices.

In addition to the four keynotes, we were welcomed by Christine Morris, Chief Resiliency Officer of the City of Norfolk, who told us about the $120,000,000 resilience grant for Hampton Roads from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We were also treated to four DESIGN FORUM TALK XII’s by Mel Price and Thom White of Work Program Architects in Norfolk on “Living at Sea Level”; Thomas Quattlebaum of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the new Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach on the building as an experiment in net zero sustainability; AIA Virginia’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2015 presentation on the “Porous City”; and Jackie Parks’ presentation on Parklets in Norfolk. It was wonderful to see the engagement of our Emerging Leaders in Architecture at DESIGN FORUM XII. I hope you will continue to encourage the participation of our Emerging Professionals in AIA programs at the local, state or national level for the future of our profession.

Thank you to the Design Committee chaired by Camilo Bearman, AIA who planned an outstanding event and our many sponsors who helped to make it possible. In addition, our AIA staff including Education Manager Marshall Dreiling, Special Projects Manager Rebecca Lonadier, Managing Director Rhea George, and Executive Vice President Helene Dreiling, FAIA, deserve special recognition for working tirelessly before and during the event to ensure the success of the Forum. It is also worthy to mention Jim Ritter, FAIA, Bob Steele, AIA, and Greg Hunt, FAIA, who inspired the creation of DESIGN FORUM I in 1994, at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, the tradition of which has continued as AIA Virginia’s premier biennial conference on architecture and design in the Commonwealth.

See photos from Design Forum XII.

Leadership from AIA Virginia and local components attended AIA Grassroots 2016 along with approximately 625 other leaders of the American Institute of Architects from around the country, February 23-25, in Detroit. This was truly an inspiring and motivational event to learn and collaborate with other AIA components and leaders.

AIA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Ivy, FAIA unveiled the next video in the #ilookup media campaign, “Look Up to America’s Future”, to air primarily during election coverage on major cable news networks to promote the value of architects to the public. More information on the campaign can be found at

A keynote panel which included architects, educators, and elected leaders who participated in the rebuilding of cities such as Detroit, Tampa, Birmingham, and Seattle was very informative on the impact architects can have on the quality of our cities when they are able to collaborate with civic leaders.

In his opening keynote, entrepreneur and author Josh Linkner shared the story of the decline and renaissance of Detroit and motivated us to rekindle our spirits. He gave us five big ideas to take home from Detroit which included: “get curious, crave what’s next, defy tradition, get scrappy, and adapt fast.” Josh challenged the audience: “I want you to recapture the reasons you got into this business in the first place: to rise to challenges, make an impact on your community, and build terrific organizations.”

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm delivered one of the most memorable keynotes which I have ever heard to close out the conference. She opened by outlining trends in politics, the work force, and smart buildings and made four predictions: (1) Forget the Feds, Congress isn’t working; (2) A new Federalism will come in which State and Local governments will drive policy and education will race to the top; (3) Policy will be focused on jobs and the economy; (4) Political consensus will revolve around funding for infrastructure. During a brief interlude, the Governor shared the Super Bowl Commercial from 2012, “Halftime in America”, about the downturn and the comeback in Detroit. She then shared the tragic story of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which led to her call for “Help Wanted! What can architects do to lead the way in encouraging, in rising from the ashes, and in rebuilding the hardest hit?”

The General Assembly began its 60-day legislative session on the second Wednesday of January. Thank you to our Government Advocacy Advisory Council led by Tim Colley, AIA, and staff liaison and Managing Director Rhea George for monitoring bills and working with our lobbyists on bills of interest to our members. A detailed report on the session is included in this newsletter.

It was clear at AIA GRASSROOTS in Detroit and DESIGN FORUM XII in Norfolk, that architects make a difference in our community. We need to continue to up our game to bring the perspectives of architects to the decision makers in our community. In this election year, it is even more important. Our policy makers and politicians are stewards of our built infrastructure, but most of them are not expects in design and planning. They need your advice. I am begging you to get involved: volunteer for a campaign, speak with your legislators, serve your community on a board or council, and please reach in your pockets and contribute to the AIA Virginia Political Action Committee. PAC money doesn’t buy influence, but it does help us gain access to legislators, so we can educate them on issues that are important to us and important to our communities. We don’t get resilient, sustainable, healthy cities without a strong advocacy program and strong advocates like the architects in Virginia. We have over two thousand members in AIA Virginia. Please consider giving to AIA Virginia PAC (, even if it is a small amount, many voices will help us be heard by our legislators.

In the months ahead we look forward to continued advancement on our Strategic Plan and the principles of the Virginia Accord which include commitments to job creation and a growing and thriving economy, to constructing environmentally sustainable buildings, to public health, to systems of mass transit, and to responsible land development and urban infill. We also are planning the convening of the next meeting of the Large Firm Roundtable, visitation by AIA Virginia leadership of several of our member firms, and an informative virtual membership meeting. There is still time to register for AIA Convention 2016 May 19-21, in Philadelphia.

AIA Virginia continues to work hard to bring significant value to our members, provide programs and services which are relevant to our fast-changing profession and to celebrate the prosperity of our members. Our mission is to be the voice of the architecture profession in the Commonwealth, dedicated to serving our members and through a culture of innovation, AIA Virginia empowers its members, advances their value, and inspires the creation of a better-built environment.

Congratulations to Ann Kosmal, FAIA, a member of AIA Northern Virginia, and David Oakland, FAIA, a member of AIA Central Virginia for being elevated to fellowship.

Thank you for being a member of AIA Virginia! It is an honor to serve the architects of Virginia.

Nick Vlattas AIA
AIA Virginia President 2016

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