AIA Virginia Hosts First Community Dinner

Last month, we announced that AIA Virginia would be hosting its first Community Dinner in Richmond. Each dinner, which will take place in cities around the Virginia, is intended to forge relationships between architects and community-influencers by bringing them together over dinner for conversations around community. Plans are under way to host one in the Hampton Roads region before the end of the year.

Our first Community Dinner took place on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 at the home of Burt Pinnock, FAIA. Throughout dinner, everyone shared their individual perspective on the meaning of community. We discussed what made us proud of our community and what challenges needed to be overcome.

When our host asked how the designers at the table could be a resource to the community, a truly meaningful conversation took place. Below are a few quotes and images from the evening.

“We need to provide safe, affordable and dignified housing for all of our citizens.”

“Just give me ONE really good building to set the tone.”

“Design matters. You have to make people feel good about where they live. When they feel proud of where they live, it changes their behavior. When I look at Jeff Davis, I see a blank canvas. Right now, there is crime, prostitution. But, if people felt uncomfortable tossing their bottles out their window, and people could take pride in the neighborhood, you would reduce crime. Build a walkable neighborhood. And, it can’t be built in tax credits – we need to have a tax base.”

“We have great opportunity zones. Tell us where to start.”

“It’s time for Richmond to make its own place.”

“How do we make sure that Richmond’s unique character is not an impediment to growth, density, and great communities for our citizens?”

“We haven’t really had a vision-setting, goal-focused plan. You can help shape that plan.”


Community members in attendance were

Lincoln Saunders, Mayor’s Chief of Staff, City of Richmond

Rich Sliwosk, Assoc. VP, VCU Facilities Management

Hon. Andreas Addison, Richmond City Council, First District

William Friday, Deputy Chief of Police, City of Richmond

Leonard Sledge, Director, City of Richmond Economic Development

Mark Olinger, Director of Planning and Development Review, City of Richmond

Bernard Rogers, Vice President of Real Estate Development, Better Housing Coalition

Cindy Davis, Deputy Director, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Rhea George, Managing Director, AIA Virginia

Architects in attendance were:

Burt Pinnock, FAIA, Chairman, Baskervill

Nick Cooper, AIA, Vice President, HKS, Inc.

Krystal Anderson, AIA, Architect, Gresham Smith

Andrew Moore, AIA, Partner, Glave and Holmes Architecture

Charles Piper, AIA, Managing Director, Quinn Evans Architects

Patrick Thompson, Assoc. AIA, Associate, Commonwealth Architects

Ed Gillikin, AIA, Principal, KOP Architects

Lou Wolf, AIA, Principal, SMBW Architects

Corey Clayborne, AIA, MBA, Executive Vice President, AIA Virginia

Community Dinners

In September, AIA Virginia will Unveil Groundbreaking Initiative to Connect Architects with Local Community Leaders over Dinner

I’ve seen the data.  I’ve read the survey results.  One major common thread is that, in general, Architects wish the public understood what they did and why they are of importance to society.  As a professional architect, I want that also. The knowledge and skills we possess through our unique education, experience, and training, position us to be a valuable resource to those who influence the quality of life in our respective communities.   In September, AIA Virginia will unveil a groundbreaking initiative that will help bridge that gap around the Commonwealth.

This initiative will be centered on a simple concept of bringing together architects and community influencers over a private catered dinner to discuss what community means to each individual.  Within the context of this conversation, we will discuss what we are most proud of in our community and what challenges are we working to overcome.  How can architects be a resource in overcoming these challenges?

Dinners will have no more than 20 invited individuals.  Of these invitees, six to eight will be architects who live or work in that hosting community.  The other seats will be reserved for local leaders who have influence over shaping the quality of life.  Positions that come to mind are the Mayor, School Superintendent, the individual overseeing Transportation, Housing, and so forth. 

We are proud to announce that the first dinner will be held in Richmond on September 10th at the home of Burt Pinnock, FAIA.  The attendance of Mayor Levar Stoney has been confirmed and we are working on inviting other local leaders.  This initiative is planned to continue for five years with the hope of hosting anywhere between 25 to 50 dinners during this time frame in all corners of Virginia.  Our hope is that this initiative is a seed project in which each of our local components will begin to host their own dinners to continue this dialogue. 

Meal after meal, we look forward to positioning our members to be a valuable resource for the community.

With service,
Corey Clayborne, AIA, MBA
Executive Vice President