John H. Spencer Recognized as the 2020 Noland Medalist

John Henri Spencer, FAIA, has been recognized with the William C. Noland Medal by AIA Virginia for his leadership within architectural education beyond the status quo to create opportunities for generations of architecture students. As the highest honor bestowed by AIA Virginia to an architect, the Noland Medal is intended to honor a distinguished body of accomplishments, sustained over time, spanning a broad spectrum of the profession, and transcending the scope of normal professional activities. The honor is in memory of William C. Noland, FAIA, one of the founders of the AIA in Virginia, its second president, and Virginia’s first member to be elevated to fellowship.

Spencer is a pioneering leader for Black architects in America, a distinguished teacher who influenced thousands of students, and a committed educational administrator who created countless programs, initiatives, and pathways for growth and mentorship. Under his leadership, the study of architecture at Hampton University evolved through focused curricular development, fundraising, and academic excellence–the pinnacle of a 63-year career of service in education, in the public arena, and to the profession of architecture. Spencer was born in Monrovia, Liberia to missionary parents serving at the Suehn Industrial Mission, which influenced his philosophy for teaching, community and professional service and social action. After high school in Huntington, West Virginia, John enrolled in the architectural engineering program at the Agricultural and Technical College (now university) in Greensboro, North Carolina. His education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and, upon discharge, John transferred to Hampton Institute (now University) graduating in 1956 with highest honors.

Spencer joined the faculty of the School of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he co-founded the Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black Students (CCEBS) with support from the Ford Foundation to increase the number of Black students enrolled at the school. The first group recruited by CCEBS arrived in 1968 and of the original 128 students, 90 graduated four years later in 1972–more than the total number of Black graduates of Amherst combined in its 105 years. In its first decade, CCBES recruited and Amherst graduated more than 2,000 Black students. At Amherst, he also led efforts to provide volunteer tutoring for Black students and led the Amherst Human Relations Council and Fair Housing Committee, and established Black history education in high schools that brought about positive change in the town of Amherst and beyond.

In 1970, Spencer returned to the Hampton Institute as Chair of the Department of Architecture, where he encouraged students to look beyond the campus gates and involve themselves in the larger community. Notably, he initiated a student exchange program between Hampton and Amherst, and a broader travel program soon followed, growing out of a need to strengthen the fifth-year planning studio. It began with trips to large American cities supported by alumni who provided housing and meals at no cost. With the support of faculty, Spencer revised and expanded the program to require a two-week travel module to foreign cities, from Europe to Asia, and from Africa to Latin America. Since then, he has always led by example, becoming the first Black architect elected to the National Architectural Accrediting Board, first Black architect appointed to the Virginia Licensing Board, and assuming numerous other local and national positions of influence within the profession.

In his nomination letter, Professor and Dean Emeritus of Howard University, Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA, noted, “His consistent leadership has contributed to the strength of the African American narrative in architecture and has increased the richness and stability of the Hampton University Department of Architecture. If the Noland Medal is the pinnacle of recognition, the contributions of Professor Spencer are nearly unmatched and exceeded most.”

The William C. Noland Medal will be presented at Visions for Architecture on Thursday, Oct. 8 in an online awards ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. The program is free but registration is required.

Cheadle, Cushing, and Daniel Granted Honorary Membership from Virginia Architects

Judy Cheadle, Patrick Cushing, and Sam Daniel will be recognized by AIA Virginia with Honorary Membership for their sustained commitment and tireless work on behalf of the Commonwealth’s 7,000 licensed architects. Honorary Membership is bestowed upon a person of esteemed character who is not eligible for membership in the AIA Virginia but who has rendered distinguished and exemplary service, over a sustained period of time, to architecture and the built environment within the domain of AIA Virginia.

Cheadle, who is retiring as AIA’s Director of Sales this year, served as the key business development team member instrumental in the financial success of AIA Virginia programs. For sponsors, exhibitors, and partners, she was the “face” of architecture, working tirelessly to make Architecture Exchange East, Design Forum, Art of Practice, and Inform Magazine valuable venues and resources for architects, product manufacturers, and everyone in the region’s design community. “ Her success is easily acknowledged by the number of allied partners who continue to support AIA Virginia year after year to build professional relationships with our 2,500 architects and designers,” says Elizabeth Reader, FAIA, in her nomination letter. “Undoubtedly, there is a direct and obvious link between Judy’s contributions to the profession and the success of AIA Virginia.”

Cushing, a Richmond-based attorney with Williams Mullen, has lobbied the Virginia General Assembly on behalf of the Commonwealth’s architects and engineers for nearly a decade, advancing the work of AIA Virginia’s and Virginia ACE’s Joint Legislative Committee. Cushing’s work has been instrumental in protecting Qualifications Based Selection, limiting low-bid practices for architecture and engineering services, and establishing a statute of limitations on design claims by state agencies, among other accomplishments.

Of Cushing, Kenneth Payne, AIA, Vice President of Quality Control, Risk Management, and Training at Moseley Architects and an AIA Virginia representative on the JLC, asks, “You may think, ‘Isn’t that what we pay him to do?’ Perhaps, but consider this: When negotiations were not going well and it looked like the other side was going to oppose our bill, Patrick could have given up, as well, but instead, encouraged us to keep discussions going.” Simply put, says Payne, “Patrick has rendered distinguished and exemplary service representing the architectural community before the General Assembly for nearly ten years.”

Daniel, of Daniel & Company, a full-service general contracting and construction management firm, is a committed preservationist who eagerly accepts projects with historical significance and executes thoughtful and contextual renovations and additions. His company’s passion for “Building History,” underscores decades of fruitful partnerships with Virginia’s premier firms to preserve whenever possible, restore in a respectful way, and construct anew with more than an eye toward the Commonwealth’s architectural heritage. “His leadership and support of the  Branch House through his stewardship efforts has been outstanding and the building’s health is turning the corner toward stabilization and prominence,” note architect Robert Boynton, FAIA, and AIA Richmond President Nick Cooper, AIA.

Daniel is also a champion of sustainability, encouraging all of Daniel & Company employees to participate in continuing education and obtain LEED Certification, enabling the company to successfully complete LEED Certified Projects, some achieving Gold status. Over the years, Daniel & Company has worked with a who’s who of Virginia firms, from Hanbury Evans to Carlton Abbott to BAM Architects to Odell to Commonwealth Architects, among dozens of others. His affiliations over the years have included the Virginia Council of CEOs, the Construction Specifications Institute, and the Monument Avenue Preservation Society, as well as Virginia AIA, about which Boyton and Cooper write, “His impressive credentials and his continued support of AIA Virginia will certainly enrich all of our architectural lives.”

Honorary Membership will be conferred at Visions for Architecture on Thursday, Oct. 8 in an online awards ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. The program is free but registration is required.

Crozet Elementary School Receives 2020 Test of Time Award

Crozet Elementary School by VMDO Architects was intended to be a community anchor whose architecture reflects the modest, yet aspirational identity of this tight-knit, rural community. Thirty years later, AIA Virginia honors the project with the Test of Time Award for achieving a high standard of excellence and inspiring students, faculty, and staff with a unique and enduring design vision.

As Charlottesville and Albemarle County grew in the 1980s, traditionally agrarian communities like Crozet had to accommodate population growth while safeguarding the local ecology. Completed in 1990 and inspired by community stakeholders and a “village” concept, while also honoring classical Jeffersonian architecture, the design struck a balance between function and symbolism, which contributed to its distinctive forms. Writing in the pages of Inform Magazine, Elena Marcheso-Moreno noted, “Crozet Elementary grew out of a unique concept that highlights the image of the one-room schoolhouse. By recalling the ideal of the schoolhouse as an important town structure, this facility reinforces the importance of education while creating a new source of civic pride.”

VMDO recognized public expectations for a conventional main façade and balanced with a more progressive design throughout the rest of the 47,000 square feet of learning space. The school’s wings join together to encircle the library, in a nod to Thomas Jefferson’s placement of the Rotunda library at the center of his ideal campus plan less than 20 miles away. The library is the focal point and the heart of the school, and the enduring architectural characteristic that generations of students remember and cherish.

Light-filled classrooms and expansive views also figure prominently in the memories of former students–features long recognized as having health benefits, but rarely accomplished so thoughtfully and expertly as it was at Crozet. Lead designers Bob Moje, FAIA, and Randy Livermon, AIA, have steered this project and dozens of others by VMDO to continuously challenge the status quo of school design. Dan Simpson, now a principal at ZGF, also contributed significantly to the school’s design approach. Their goal at Crozet, beyond creating a salubrious learning environment, was to engender in students a lifelong love of learning about academic subjects, the natural world, materiality, and the power of good design.

“I know Crozet Elementary School very well and have a deep appreciation for the enduring quality of its design,” wrote Karen Marcus, School Principal from 2005 to 2010. “I believe that it set a new bar for school design and its legacy as an enjoyable and positive learning environment will last far into the future.”

The Test of Time Award will be presented at Visions for Architecture on Thursday, Oct. 8 in an online awards ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. The program is free but registration is required.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools Awarded the Architecture Medal for Virginia Service

Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) will be awarded the Architectural Medal for Virginia Service this year for its commitment to environmental, social, and financial health in its building campaigns, and aligning this commitment with curricular innovation. As the AIA Virginia’s most prestigious public award, the Architecture Medal for Virginia Service honors an individual or an organization that has made an unusually significant contribution to Virginia’s built environment or to our understanding and awareness of the built environment. Since 1984, and with this year’s award, 35 individuals and two organizations have been premiated with the medal.

VBCPS students actively learn about the interconnectedness of our world, and through the shool district’s efforts, they are able to recognize the importance of place, values, and culture in the Commonwealth. For the past 15 years, VBCPS has been both a regional and statewide recognized leader in school design and sustainability. Since the development and initiation of their Sustainable Schools program in 2006, VBCPS has constructed nine LEED buildings, and plans to complete three more in 2020 alone, bringing its LEED building inventory to over 2 million square feet. Since 2006, they have managed to reduce their energy use per square foot by 27 percent, even while adding nine percent to their total building square footage, resulting in a cumulative cost avoidance of $45 million since 2006.

VBCPS’s commitment has expanded beyond the building envelope to demonstrate how the Commonwealth’s fourth largest school district can walk the walk on sustainability in a real and long-term way. Examples include implementing a “cook-from-scratch” program for cafeteria food (thereby relying less on packaged items and instructing students on food sourcing and preparation), to supporting electric buses and charging stations, to its 25-year partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to create outdoor learning experiences, to integrating sustainable messages, practices, and principles into all aspects of its curriculum for all grades.

In his nomination letter, AIA Hampton Roads President Scott A. Campbell, AIA, applauded “VBCPS’s exceptional and relentless dedication to their mission of ‘educating students about the Triple Bottom Line and understanding the interconnectedness and interdependency of social, economic and environmental systems,” and calling VBCPS’s award, “a well-deserved honor for their incredible accomplishments in school design and sustainability.”

The Architecture Medal for Virginia Service will be presented at Visions for Architecture on Thursday, Oct. 8 in an online awards ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. The program is free but registration is required.