ELA 2022 Nominations Open

AIA Virginia announces the call for applications for the 2022 class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA): An Honors Academy of AIA Virginia.

The application and more information is available here>>
The application deadline is Nov. 5, 2021.

ELA is an intensive program of educational sessions structured around presentations, discussions, team exploration, analysis, consensus-building, collaboration, and case study activities undertaken over the course of a year by a small cadre of participants selected for their potential to be outstanding contributors to the profession and the community. Facilitators and mentors who are established leaders in the building, finance, non-profit, development, university, legal, consulting, and design professions and in the community at large develop and deliver the sessions, designed to provide participants with advanced knowledge and skills related to specific areas of leadership and practice.

The program consists of monthly, day-long seminars, work sessions, or class project presentations, culminating at a presentation at Architecture Exchange East in November.

The seminars are interactive, drawing on real examples and actively involving participants. They rotate among sites in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Richmond, Alexandria, and Norfolk in conjunction with the firms, schools, and the local AIA component in each area.

The class project for 2022 will be in Roanoke, so many sessions and the project workdays will be located in the Roanoke area.

How to Apply
The committee seeks applicants from three categories:

Component Nominees: Each of the five AIA Virginia local component Boards may nominate one or more individuals for admission to the program. One participant will be selected from each component for a total of five. If interested, please contact your local AIA chapter representative. Each chapter sets its own deadline and application requirements for these positions.

Student Nominees: Each Virginia Architecture School (UVA, VT, Hampton, and WAAC) may nominate one or more students for admission to the program. One participant will be selected from each school for a total of four. If interested, contact your department Chair/Dean.

Open Applications: Applicants may apply on their own or be nominated by someone else. Seven participants will be selected from among these applicants.

The application and more information is available here>>
The application deadline is Nov. 5, 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact Cathy Guske, Member Services Director, cguske@aiava.org

ELA Day in Manchester

We all agreed. If we were going to meet in Richmond, we wanted to spend as much time as possible getting to know Manchester, our project location, and its people, those we are seeking to serve.

The 2021 Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) group had been only meeting online, in classic pandemic fashion, until this past mid-May when a number of our team members made the trip to Richmond for a hybrid session of goal setting; exploring Manchester, a neighborhood of Richmond just south of the James River; and engaging with community members in person. Our group has 16 members from all over the state, but only one of us lives in Richmond. This has been a particular challenge that we have been grappling with as we seek to get to know Manchester and make a meaningful response to the particular needs of the community. Early on we decided that we wanted to be collaborators with the people and different organizations who make Manchester special and are deeply invested in its future. It is through centering these people and including typically marginalized voices in the design process that we could make something that was relevant and responsive to everyone’s needs. Manchester is changing rapidly with big questions about how it can develop in a way that benefits all who live there now. We hoped the process by which we developed our project would help build collective power within Manchester’s community and give them tools to better advocate for themselves. 

Our Charlottesville class session about community engagement left us inspired by the speakers who shared their experiences. We heard stories from Bruce Wardell of BRW about the resident-led design of a redevelopment project, gleaned insights from Katie Swenson’s experience at MASS Architects, and were excited by the examples Serena Gruia, a public engagement specialist for Albemarle county, shared with us about how we might design engagements in order to co-create with the community. These stories, and the values of centering the community in the process, formed the basis of our outreach to Manchester in May.

This first engagement was an effort to make our group known and to start building trust with the people that live and work here. That afternoon, we broke into five teams with four of them focusing on talking to businesses. Since we do not have a permanent location in the area, getting business’s support and insights were essential to starting to connect more deeply with the community. While these groups shared about who we are, asked questions, and put up our blue ELA posters, they also made observations about the different things they saw while walking around. Our fifth team was stationed outside the library with a large map of Manchester and colored stickers inviting passersby to place stickers on the map indicating favorite places, home, work, etc. The stories they shared about this place through this exercise helped us start to discern themes that we can explore more deeply as a design team. We hope to go back again with another in-person session as well as develop a survey that starts getting into more specifics.

Doing this engagement in-person made me realise how many voices we would have missed by only doing something online. We would not have been able to reach the people who engaged with us on the street that day without physically being in this place and putting faces to our name. Another in our group offered their experience of that day saying, “It was amazing to hear how passionately the local businesses felt about their community once we started our conversations. You can tell they genuinely care about preserving the sense of place that already exists in Manchester.” Someone else shared that, “I’ve realized that being able to holistically understand Manchester is like getting to know a person… To be able to offer support you have to be open-minded, compassionate to their history, their goals, and character.” 

If you have insights to share about Manchester or thoughts on our engagement efforts so far we welcome you to contact us! We can be reached at: elamanchester2021@gmail.com

submitted by:
Hayley Owens, Associate AIA
ELA Class of 2021

2021 ELA Class Profiles

AIA Virginia’s award-winning Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) program was developed in 2009 to jump-start the careers of young professionals. Conceived of and lead by a passionate steering committee of successful architects (now ALL past ELA alumni!), the program was designed to share the things they wished they had learned in architecture school.

Each of the seven day-long-sessions focuses on developing essential skills like financial management, communication and negotiation, advocacy and public service, and much more. The remaining monthly sessions are dedicated to their class project from a region around the commonwealth.

Want to be a member of this elite group of leaders? The application for the 2022 class will be available later this summer. Contact Cathy Guske for information on how to nominate an emerging leader or with any questions about the program.

We asked members of the ELA class of 2021 the same five questions. Here are their inspiring answers.

Barbara Benesh, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I’m very proud to currently be renovating a farmhouse-turned-restaurant for the local non-profit, Vanguard Landing. If you’re not familiar, Vanguard Landing offers a safe, intentional, interactive and inclusive community where people with intellectual and developmental differences can thrive and achieve their life’s full potential. Besides being proud to support a wonderful cause, it’s been amazing to hear the stories this historic home has to tell. There’s something very special and humbling about being a part of a building’s story—I’m grateful to help write this chapter.

What is the last book you read?
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My passion for architecture began while growing up in the American South East, surrounded by historical buildings and learning about stories of the interesting people who lived and worked in them. Understanding the way in which architecture expresses our past and present ways of life felt (and still feels) magical to me. I began to see buildings as time capsules, pillars of adaptation with layers of cultural context. Sometimes architecture feels akin to archeology, and I love that intersection.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Taking walks on the Elizabeth River Trail brings me so much peace. There’s something very therapeutic about being in nature, especially on the water. I find the ERT an especially calming space to connect with myself and organize my thoughts.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Embrace the challenge. If studied right, I promise you will grow from it.

Marcos Alberto Borjas, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I will never forget visiting my grandmother’s house ten years later. The feeling of nostalgia leaves a personal imprint that I never experienced in any other place.

What is the last book you read?
Call of the Wild

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Through my endless obsession with skyscrapers

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Hot chocolate on a rainy day

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Architecture is not defined, and it never will. Use your aspirations as a guide to creating your own definition. You may have to go against everyone and everything, but if you are protecting your values, that is completely fine.

Kayla Bromley, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Caperton House by Fernau + Hartman Architects (my firm has the honor of designing new additions/renovations for this house and I recently went to visit it).

What is the last book you read?
The Overstory by Richard Powers

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I think I just fell into the profession. I’ve always enjoyed creating things–like making box forts and always playing with K’Nex and Legos when I was little–so in high school, my brother told me, “You should go to Virginia Tech and study architecture.” I thought “Okay, sure, I’ll try it,” and the rest is history! After my first year studio, I knew I was exactly where I belonged, pursuing a career that was constantly inspiring and challenging me.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Play board/card games (current favorites are Dominion and Terraforming Mars)

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Architecture is largely about listening and communication! As designers, our work extends beyond the built; We can positively impact our communities by simply starting with, “how we can help,” and listening/responding empathetically.

Haley DeNardo, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
My childhood home in upstate NY. Being home during the pandemic reminded me of memories, love, and stability, which was a great reminder to not take those things for granted. Emotion and inspiration can be drawn from any type of building. For more of an ‘architectural building’ it would be the Beinecke Rare Books Library at Yale University. The thoughtful and detailed use of material is inspiring.

What is the last book you read?
Eat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I discovered my passion of architecture through communication. Public speaking and enhancing others lives is really important to me. Creating impact and community through the built environment brings importance to our work to do right by the community and established relationships. I strive to meet people’s needs and my goals through architecture and communication.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Cooking, embroidery, or hiking depending on the season and what I’m decompressing from.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Never forget to be your authentic self. There is room for everyone in architecture, and sticking to your gut and using your voice is critical. We all have things to contribute and learn, no matter our age or status.

Maggie Dunlap, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
David Adjaye’s Francis Gregory Library in Washington, DC is one of the most successful pieces of community architecture that I’ve seen in recent memory. The building uses materials efficiently and creatively and is tucked into a woodland environment. Overall, it is accessible, functional, and fun – everything a great building should be!

What is the last book you read?
I always have a stack going simultaneously but the most recent ones that I’ve finished are Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, Memorial by Bryan Washington, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer, and a biography of Frederick Douglass by David Blight. These all explore themes of culture, belonging, climate awareness, love, and identity, and have found their way into my professional and student work in the past months.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
At different points, I’ve been interested in interiors, textile design, fashion, and music. I’m always inspired by a wide range of sources, and architecture has always been the career that seemed to marry my dual personalities of the technical and artistic.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love hiking, traveling, and visiting museums with my family – something I’m looking forward to doing again post-pandemic. One of my other hobbies is genealogy, which I love as a puzzle and as a way to explore cultural narratives.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Research, research, research! Architecture should never exist in a vacuum, and listening to history, culture, community, and above all the environment, is critical to creating conscious, humble, and inclusive architecture that adds value and a sense of place to the natural and built environments.

Alex Foster, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
It wasn’t as recent, but of course, the Pantheon. I arrived prepared to be skeptical, but when I walked in, I remember not even having air to gasp. You know that feeling? Serendipitously, it actually started raining. I grabbed a friend’s hand, we ducked under the dividers, and stood under the oculus, looking up through the drizzle at what was still a surprisingly sunny day. Although we were promptly escorted out, it reinforced for me that a big part of architecture is placing ourselves in those unique positions that leave lasting impressions and change our perspectives.

What is the last book you read?
I recently wrapped up two books: Walkable Cities, by Jeff Speck and Scarcity, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. It was really interesting to read these two in tandem, as at surface level, they are relatively unrelated. However, Scarcity helped to frame many of Speck’s urban planning strategies in a way that better helped me understand not only the missing pedestrian vibrancy in our downtowns but also the motivation and approaches our communities use to replace it.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
As a child, a future mentor demonstrated that stair dimensions shape people’s behavior: long, monumental steps induce a leisurely stroll and steep, narrow terraces provoke a driven, vertical sprint. The experience made me think about the impact of design on the human experience and later influenced my thesis decision to explore architecture as a medium for transformative dialogue.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Throughout the week, I enjoy staying busy after work. But, when I get a chance to decompress, I love to get out to bike or golf, practice my bagpipes, and play backgammon over a beer with friends.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Find good mentors and keep your ears open. The best advice I was given was to never wear headphones in the studio. Architecture doesn’t exist in a bubble – and neither does a good design process! Listen and participate in the conversations around you!

Gary Glinsey, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Foster + Partners’ RCC Headquarters in Yekaterinburg really caught my eye. It is such a visually stunning building that has quality interior spaces.

What is the last book you read?
The Fire Next Time
by James Baldwin. Written over 50 years ago, but just as timely as ever. It is definitely a must-read for everyone this year.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My passion began with growing up in Chicago. The diverse neighborhoods really influenced my eye for drawing the environments around me. Coupling that with the exceeding amount of art classes I took in high school, my love for buildings grew. At first it was skyscrapers, but gradually museums, houses, and other building types got me to love the field of architecture.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Listening to music has to be at the top of the list. Spotify has to be my most used app on my phone!

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Being an aspiring architect myself I think making time outside of work/class is extremely important. You have to know when to close the computer or wrap up the trace and get out once in a while. Design takes a lot out of you, so knowing when to give yourself a little free time to clear your head is key. For me, bike riding is essential to my process, however, some may have different methods. Once you’re able to give yourself time away from projects, you can come back more level-headed and focused.


Aria Hill, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Architect Michelle Ja and her studio JaJa Co are currently working on a private studio gallery in Chesapeake, VA. The exterior formal language is quite striking! The project uniquely attempts to further the contextual vernacular of the local big box store claddings. I welcome more architecturally “funky” projects to the Hampton Roads area.

What is the last book you read?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates! A must-read.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I discovered architecture through my dad who suggested that my interests in mathematics and crafts would make me an ideal candidate for architecture school. Though, I would say architecture became my passion after an invigorating 2nd year of architectural studies in which the innumerous possibilities of architecture were revealed to me.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I really enjoy cooking new (plant-based) recipes to de-stress after studio! Put on some alternative soul music and just cook–a perfect stress relief. And then I will get my family to taste test the final product. 🙂

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
I recommend that everyone in this profession find their niche. I know–pretty easy to say, harder to do–but over time, I have come to discover a few passions that motivate me in my endeavors. I am strongly convicted to become licensed after graduation due to the lack of licensed Black female architects at the moment (~500).

Iroda Karimova, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I love Zeider’s American Dream Theather in Virginia Beach Town Center, It came out to be one of the best and successful public urban spaces, including an inviting upper-level terrace. It enhances the adjacent plaza, and the terrace offers the best spot for picture taking with Town Center behind. The massing of the building is very dramatic and modern. I always visit it with the Cold Stone Ice cream in my hand.

What is the last book you read?
Big Magic, Creative living beyond fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Interior Design Magazine, as a 10-year old, I used to recreate the floorplans on my sketchbook. Then started making my own dream house floorplans. I also admired the new type of residential construction in my neighborhood.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Reading a book, painting with watercolor,  swimming at the beach, and shopping.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Dream Big and Take Risks!

Sasha Light, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD is a local project that I was very impressed by. The exhibit spaces use primarily natural light, and provide a very tranquil and minimalist experience. The museum is heavily focused on a connection with nature and how it accentuates the displayed works. The detailing – especially the concrete work – was stunning and exemplified how details and a minimal material palette truly can create a timeless design. Visiting Glenstone made me further appreciate the importance of dialogue between designer, contractor and manufacturer, as it is clear that strong coordination can produce such amazing work.

What is the last book you read?
I am currently reading Creativity Inc. by a co-founder of Pixar, Ed Catmull. It details his experience in the animation industry and the critical components of creating a productive and positive work atmosphere. He focuses on the balance between fostering creativity and highly conceptual ideas with the realities/struggles of a young company. The situations and experiences of Ed Catmull’s career can be easily applied to the architecture industry and was very insightful to read, I recommend everyone to give the book a shot.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I think all designers growing up have a fascination with the tangible products of human creation. When I was young I absolutely loved everything related to construction, the yard was littered with Tonka trucks and my mothers flowers were always dug up (woops). That really began my appreciation for the built world and the amazing feats of engineering and designs many buildings have employed. Sketches and technical drawings have always given me a sense of wonder and pleasure, seeing how conceptual ideas can be developed and meshed with reality to create a physical product, and the human expression that inherently comes with that. I think everyone is a designer in some sense, and to be able to exercise creativity and decision-making is a very important human trait.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I will never turn down a good movie, especially one by A24 studios. If I am not vegging out on the couch, I really enjoy sketching, cooking, backpacking and skiing (followed by a nice cold beer of course).

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
An inherent attribute about the architecture industry (or any design focused industry for that matter) is the vulnerability when an idea is presented. Do not be afraid to share your own ideas, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be. You will grow as a person and, although there may be harsh criticism at times, you will find some of the most rewarding experiences in life and situations that you can learn from. I still look back at some of my school projects and wince, trying to understand how in the world I would want to put that in front of other people. It was those situations though, that allowed me to grow, whether I knew it or not.

Ashley Montgomery, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Stephen Lawrence Center | London UK, Adjaye Associates. I saw a couple of photos recently and fell in love with the façade pattern. The textures and patterns on the façade and the shadows they emit on the interior walls are beautiful.

What is the last book you read? The last book I read was Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown, highly recommend it! And I am about to start a new book, Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I have always had a deep passion for creating, and culture how the two relate to one another. I wanted to be able to contribute to the narrative of our culture and our environments and Architecture for me is a connection between the two.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
A good, long nap!

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Some things I have learned along the way are, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be comfortable with not having an answer but being willing to find one. Also, find your voice, figure out what makes you want to practice Architecture and do that.

Hayley Owens, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I would not normally say my apartment, since it is no architectural wonder, but over this past year, I have spent an amazing amount of time in this space. This experience has intensified my awareness of how important it is to have high-quality, affordable, and beautiful places to live. Places that are restorative and allow one to express themselves while also fostering connection with others and the natural world. It all starts at this intimate scale. Affordable, quality housing and neighborhood design should be available to everyone. Having this experience has definitely awakened a sense of activism for me around this.

What is the last book you read?
I have just finished reading Cradle to Cradle by architect Bill McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. I keep coming back to the fact that it is written in 2002 and that the ideas are as revolutionary now as they were then. I am someone who frequently feels guilty for the impact I have on the environment and am forever carefully calculating ways to minimize my waste and be “less bad.” This book flips this scarcity mentality on its head, instead proposing that the way we make things needs to change and uses natural systems as a model. Our products and buildings should be delightful, safe, prolific, and not elicit guilt. Very hopeful and inspiring.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
As a young person, I spent a lot of time making mini-worlds out of polymer clay, mud, and whatever I found in the woods. I never connected this to place-making but certainly made places through narrative and storytelling with found items. It wasn’t until I participated in the ACE Mentoring program in high school that I was exposed to the different creative careers of landscape architecture and architecture. Getting to know professionals and have their support with a group project helped me get excited and commit to architecture as a career path.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love spending time carefully cleaning, folding, organizing, and thinking through how everything is put away. This could be in my own space, my mom’s house, or for someone I am dog-sitting for. I can get deeply immersed in the space and my own thoughts for hours. It is satisfying to step back and see something transformed. In my daily rituals I like to test how I have previously organized something — should it be redone next weekend?

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
We are all made up of multitudes. We have different interests, passions, personality traits, identities, and backgrounds that shape our experiences and thinking. It is so important that we bring our whole complex and curious selves to the table as designers; the design questions we seek to answer are equally complex and require a diversity of thinking and training. I have spent a lot of time fretting about not being “enough” or not fitting a perceived ideal. I encourage you to not limit yourself to who you think you should be, but to really examine who you are now and the great richness you have to offer with your unique experiences and interests.

Marium Rahman, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The house across the street; I can see it from my chair as I look out the window while working remotely from my dining table. They recently painted it black and I wondered how hot that house will get during the summer?!

What is the last book you read?
I am currently trying to read the Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, however, ARE books keep distracting me from finishing it.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I discovered my passion for architecture during undergrad; I had started studying architecture without truly understanding how much I would enjoy it and its potential to shape my perspective in life. And even after 11 years, I can say I am still discovering it every day.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
A good meal with friends and family.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
You are always learning so try to absorb as much as you can, knowledge is one of your strongest assets, and most importantly have fun with whatever you are doing, architecture is hard work but it is definitely worth it!

Stephanie Smid, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Right before the lockdown started I visited the International Spy Museum in DC. Having only seen the building in photos I was initially uncertain about the design, but experiencing it in person gave a whole different feeling. What appeared clunky in a photo felt dramatic and exciting when approaching the building. The bold colors were a great contrast to the surrounding brutalist concrete, but my favorite part was the staircase behind the curtain wall.

What is the last book you read?
Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s one of my favorite stories that I try to reread whenever I have a lot of upcoming downtime, so this past year was perfect for it.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I chose architecture in undergrad because I thought it would be a good blend of science and art, but it wasn’t until I took a digital fabrication class that it finally felt right. Exploring new ways to use materials by leveraging technology and parametric design combined all the skills and fields I was looking for- then the school got a robot arm. I was hooked.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love staying active and playing sports, so the lockdown was pretty hard at first. I got an iPad to start exploring digital illustration and I’ve become a bit obsessed! I also enjoy making small projects with my laser cutter and the occasional Netflix binge.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Try not to compare yourself to others, especially when it comes to licensure. Everyone has different interests and experiences that don’t all lead to getting licensed in the same amount of time. Architecture is a huge field, so don’t be afraid if your passion takes you down some twisty roads.

Lisette Stone, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia by Tod Williams and Billy Tsien. While the entire building is beautiful and impeccably crafted, standing under that monumental skylight made me feel small and inconsequential in the best way.

What is the last book you read?
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My mother adores old buildings. When I was young, we would frequently take detours through historic districts and pick out our favorite details. Her fascination was contagious, and I, too, soon felt a rush at the sight of a good leaded glass window. Much later, my husband and I bought our own old house. The process of restoring it sparked that same excitement all over again that my day job at the time did not, convincing me to pursue architecture as a career rather than a hobby.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love to read on my front porch or take my dogs on a long walk with a true-crime podcast for company.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Have fun with your studio assignments while in school, and remember to keep learning and exploring after you graduate.

Taylor Terrill, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
We recently purchased our first home and the words of Alain de Botton have never rung so true – “It (home) has provided not only physical but also psychological sanctuary. It has been a guardian of identity. Over the years, its owners have returned from periods away and, on looking around them, remembered who they were.”

What is the last book you read?
My wife recently gave birth to our first child, so sitting down to read has been few and far between. I do love a good podcast, a few of my favorites include Dolly Parton’s America, Radiolab, and 99% Invisible.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I always found myself looking up – at an intricate ceiling, at houses that lined the streets in my neighborhood, at buildings as they were constructed piece by piece.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Make a massive charcuterie board and find something good on Netflix.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Have confidence in your abilities. Stop comparing yourself, instead learn to celebrate the creativity of others.

ELA Class of 2020 – Our Journey

Our journey as the AIA Virginia ELA Class of 2020, was unprecedented for many reasons. Tasked with finding ways to transform the city Portsmouth and create an equitable, vibrant and a resilient downtown was a challenge from afar. With the social and political crises and the challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic brought to test how the in-person program functions, our team managed to match the scale of the hurdles with the amount of dedication and passion we all brought to the table. This program is designed to bring select designers and architects from across the state of Virginia to hone their skills as future leaders, give the the opportunity to widen networks, all while meeting with other designers from varying points in their careers. As a group, we gained much more than we initially expected, and we experienced much more than we could have ever imagined. As the class of 2020, (Ariana Arenius, Catherine C. Hendrick, Paris Casey, Kenneth Johnston, Christopher Cheng, Kristin L. Jones, Amanda Ferzoco, Mert Kansu, Michael Lawson, Zach Robinson, James Vidoni, Jacob Sherry, Gabriela Orizondo, Matt C. Stevison, Allison Powell, and Randa Malkawi) we are thankful for all the individuals and organizations who have made this program possible, and how it helped us improve as designers, architects, and citizens.

Emerging Leaders in Architecture – Class of 2020 in Portsmouth, Virginia.

We started with bi-weekly tele-conferences for group and distributed tasks early in order to best coordinate. This made the transition to working from home and conducting the class fully virtually as smooth as possible. From the initial stages of the project research, we understood that any architectural intervention should reflect what the community desired. We did not aim to reform, transform, or rebrand the city without their involvement and accompaniment along the way. We believe what Portsmouth has in its local culture, history, and soul is invaluable. All we needed to do was make the right supporting moves as designers to reveal and compliment what was already present. Since we were not able to meet community members face-to-face, we utilized digital tools such as online surveys, social media advertisements, and digital flyers to reach out to the residents in survey form to get their opinions on what they feel was missing or could be improved in the city. With this survey data, site analyses, and research from past master planning efforts, we were able to pinpoint three main sites to focus our energy. We have selected two anchor sites, connected between with a re-envisioned street (High Street). These sites would help attract residents as well as visitors to the city, bringing a pedestrian friendly atmosphere to boost the commerce along High Street. This in turn could help kickstart a chain of development improvements throughout Portsmouth.

The Green Street Crossing site, located at the intersection of High and Green Streets, was an abandoned site of a former Church, since burnt down. Housing a large building mural of the Battle of Craney Island, this site has been envisioned as a park that includes green spaces, resting areas, a playground, and a community center. On redesigned High Street, more room for green space gives way to slowing traffic with pavement interventions and a more pedestrian and bike friendly setting. The High Street Landing site sits at the end of High Street at the waterfront. This development, already partially constructed in downtown Portsmouth, has been a commendable success, however the connection to the business corridor is lacking. An inlet housing music events and a dock for small boats is improves into an urban park with an educational and bio-diverse terrace containing oyster beds. This move  brings back the local biome to the water’s edge, helping with stormwater runoff. An improved dock and a new pavilion building on the edge of the waterfront brings a dynamic stronghold to the coastline view from across the river. As the pedestrian walks inland towards the High Street corridor, the street is pedestrian oriented, but still allowing one way traffic. This area is flexible, with Farmer’s Market stalls in place for public use except during market hours.

Efforts were organized into parcels and concepts that can be individually phased to be more realistically funded and built. The intention was to have a multi-scale approach to our design. As a part of this effort, we wanted to zoom in to the human scale, the daily life of a person that is walking or driving around Portsmouth. With Wayfinding & Signage studies, we developed a package that included a vision of what wayfinding objects, street furniture, signage, and city art could look like, in order to reinforce the Portsmouth brand. As this design could spread farther away from the core downtown, we looked into redesigning the look of the tunnels, to instill a strong impression of the city for those traveling through.

With the art installation, named “The P” (as in Portsmouth,) iterations of a steel P shaped object have been created that could exist in different locations throughout the city. Made from oxidized steel, a familiar material to this historic naval city, we imagined this object could be a way for the community to come together, gather their expertise in artisans, and build a branded object which would be placed along the streets that are walked everyday.

Our work has been extensive, but we could not be happier with the results of this challenge. We have worked passionately to present something that could help improve Portsmouth. We gathered our work for this year into a book and gave multiple presentations to the community members, local organizations, and city officials. Months after our official graduation from the program, we are still in touch with the City, and working hard as a group to keep the conversation going to get construction started. We love the excitement that has resonated with the locals who have heard about the work. Our dream is that the city benefits, and in some way the work we have done can catalyze action among officials and developers to help realize the great potential that the city contains already.

ELA 2021 Class Announced

Here’s the 2021 class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture.

Barbara Benesh, AIA, B. Grace Design
Marcos Alberto Borjas, Associate AIA, HKS Inc.
Kayla Bromley, Associate AIA, Reader + Swartz Architects, P.C.
Haley DeNardo, Associate AIA, Niles Bolton Associates
Maggie Dunlap, Associate AIA, WAAC
Alexandra Marie Foster, Associate AIA, MTFA Architecture, PLLC
Gary Glinsey, Hampton University
Aria Hill, Virginia Tech School of Arch + Design
Iroda Karimova, Associate AIA, HBA Architecture & Interior Design
Sasha A. Light, Associate AIA, Jacobs Engineering Group
Ashley Montgomery, Associate AIA, Hanbury
Hayley Owens, Associate AIA, VMDO Architects
Marium Rahman, Associate AIA, KGD Architecture
Stephanie Smid, Associate AIA, Jacobs
Lisette J. Stone, Associate AIA, SFCS Inc.
Taylor Terrill, Associate AIA, TKA Architects

If you are interested in supporting this group through a sponsorship, please contact Cathy Guske at cguske@aiava.org.

2021 ELA Tuition Payment

2021 ELA Class Nominations Open

AIA Virginia announces the call for applications for the 2021 class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA): An Honors Academy of AIA Virginia.

The application and more information is available here>>
The application deadline is Nov. 6, 2020.

ELA is an intensive program of educational sessions structured around presentations, discussions, team exploration, analysis, consensus-building, collaboration, and case study activities undertaken over the course of a year by a small cadre of participants selected for their potential to be outstanding contributors to the profession and the community. Facilitators and mentors who are established leaders in the building, finance, non-profit, development, university, legal, consulting, and design professions and in the community at large develop and deliver the sessions, designed to provide participants with advanced knowledge and skills related to specific areas of leadership and practice.

The program consists of monthly, day-long seminars, work sessions, or class project presentations, culminating at a presentation at Architecture Exchange East in November.

The seminars are interactive, drawing on real examples and actively involving participants. They rotate among sites in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Richmond, Alexandria, and Norfolk in conjunction with the firms, schools, and the local AIA component in each area.

The class project for 2021 will be in Richmond, so many sessions and the project workdays will be located in the Richmond area.

How to Apply
The committee seeks applicants from three categories:

Component Nominees: Each of the five AIA Virginia local component Boards may nominate one or more individuals for admission to the program. One participant will be selected from each component for a total of five. If interested, please contact your local AIA chapter representative. Each chapter sets its own deadline and application requirements for these positions.

Student Nominees: Each Virginia Architecture School (UVA, VT, Hampton, and WAAC) may nominate one or more students for admission to the program. One participant will be selected from each school for a total of four. If interested, contact your department Chair/Dean.

Open Applications: Applicants may apply on their own or be nominated by someone else. Seven participants will be selected from among these applicants.

The application and more information is available here>>
The application deadline is Nov. 6, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact Cathy Guske, Member Services Director, cguske@aiava.org

2020 ELA Class Profiles

AIA Virginia’s award-winning Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) program was developed in 2009 to jump-start the careers of young professionals. Conceived of and lead by a passionate steering committee of successful architects (now ALL past ELA alumni!), the program was designed to share the things they wished they had learned in architecture school.

Each of the seven day-long-sessions focuses on developing essential skills like financial management, communication and negotiation, advocacy and public service, and much more.

Want to be a member of this elite group of leaders? The application for the 2021 class will be available later this summer. Contact Cathy Guske for information on how to nominate an emerging leader or with any questions about the program.

We asked members of the ELA class of 2020 the same five questions. Here are their inspiring answers.

Ariana Arenius, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Last Fall, I studied abroad in Barcelona and fell in love with the courtyard of a museum called the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. One of the facades is filled with windows, reflecting the courtyard and parts of the city. It was great to see people using this courtyard in different ways, people using the facade as a mirror and practicing dance moves, and others enjoying a meal with a friend. It was a unique moment of how people use public spaces, something that I’ve been learning more about as I study architecture.

What is the last book you read?
I’ve started reading a book called X-Ray Architecture by Beatriz Columina. She’s an architectural historian who is currently teaching at Princeton and came to UVA as a guest lecturer this past February. Her research and analysis dives into the role of healthcare and its influence on architecture in the 20th century, something that feels surprisingly relevant to what we’re experiencing now during and what may follow after Covid-19.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Since I was young, I had always been interested in architecture, but never knew exactly why. I found myself sketching buildings, but didn’t know anything beyond what I would see outside. Once I came to college and began studying architecture, I was drawn to architecture as a tool for crafting design while also addressing many of the issues we face today. It has an amazing ability to bring people together, to capture moments of history, and to propose new ways of thinking about our world.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
When I’m not trapped in the studio, I enjoy spending time outdoors (hiking, playing tennis, going for walks and runs). Since I was in middle school, I loved taking photos and have recently taken up film photography. Above all else, it’s always relaxing to watch a movie or tv show from my never-ending list of things to see!

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
As an aspiring architect myself, I can speak to the students who are hoping to pursue architecture. I’m thankful for the opportunities and leaps I took in my undergraduate career, especially with my involvement in AIAS. Take advantage of the career talks and seminars, as well as the networking events that are offered in your school. These helped me strengthen the basic skills of communicating with people, especially with strangers (overcoming this nervousness is key!). Don’t be afraid to reach out and establish connections with the faculty and staff in your school. I’ve learned that they truly are your biggest supporters and want nothing but the best for you.

Paris Casey, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Pace Gallery in Hong Kong caught my eye due to its illuminated facade. It sits in a busy street corner and presents itself as a work of art rivaling those that it houses within.

What is the last book you read?
After watching the show on Hulu, I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I recommend both the show and the novel!

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My passion was encoded in high school. After taking a technical drawing class on a whim, I decided I wanted to delve deeper into the profession and enrolled in an architecture course the following year. I fell in love with design and the process of creating a building and I’ve been pursuing a career in architecture ever since.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
My favorite thing to do to relax is to have sip and paints with my friends. A nice glass of wine while we create some art and have good conversation is always enough for a good time in my book.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
My advice is to keep working!! Becoming an architect is no easy feat and the work can be challenging, but at the end of every project I always feel so accomplished and proud. I’m sure that’s what all aspiring architects wish to feel, so just keep pushing and be open to learning.

Christopher Cheng, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Over the summer I was able to visit the Portland Japanese Garden Cultural Village by Kengo Kuma & Associates. The approach to the project slowly winds up, around, and through the existing landscape to create an appreciation for the subtle integration of the set of buildings into the existing 1960s gardens, blurring the discrepancy between old and new, creating a harmony across time. In addition, each building engages the specific conditions of the site, through deep overhangs and transparent facades to encourage visual connection to the surrounding environment.

What is the last book you read?
Architecture and Disjunction by Bernard Tschumi. I decided to read this book in correlation to my undergraduate thesis as Tschumi explores recent concerns with ideas of ‘event’ and ‘program’ as their roles/relationships have evolved over time.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Honestly, I cannot pinpoint the exact moment or year. My grandfather, father, and older brother are all licensed architects, and architecture has been around me my entire life. From an early age, I loved going to the office with my dad and looking through the large sets of drawings, always wanting to help with a sketch or model. With this early exposure, I took an interest and extra appreciation in all things related to design, so naturally, when the time came for college, I instantly decided on architecture.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
When I have the time, I love to go on long bike rides without a particular destination in mind, exploring as I ride. It is a good way to just get away with no agenda and get outdoors.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
As I wrap up my five years at Virginia Tech I think my advice would be, to always be a sponge both academically and professionally. There will always be so much to learn in the realm of design and the best way to do so is through being proactive, constantly seeking to develop new skills and understanding. Everyone has something different to bring to the table, and it is extremely important to recognize this because curiosity and collaboration will be a benefit to both you and your colleagues.

Amanda Ferzoco, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Oculus designed by Santiago Calatrava on a recent trip to New York City. The last time I had been in NYC the building was still under construction, and based on the exterior structure that was taking shape I was uncertain if the sculptural form was a bit exaggerated given the solemn surroundings. However, when I returned in November I was awestruck by how elegant the structure was and how it poetically floated on the heavy site. This time I also got to go inside and experience the breathtaking light and scale of the project and just… WOW.

What is the last book you read? (Listened to*)
I am addicted to audiobooks! I am always listening to the autobiographies of people I find interesting, successful, and inspiring. I am currently listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama and I just finished Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Of course, for some heavier reading, the incessant Ballast ARE 5.0 Review Manual is always ongoing in the background.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
When I was younger, my parents fulfilled a dream of theirs by designing and building a log cabin in the mountains of Maine. Observing the entire process from site selection to construction to handpicking finishes fascinated me and inspired my love for design.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Sit on the beach with a glass of wine, good music, snacks, and a design magazine.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Never stop learning! Education doesn’t end in school, you must continually stay up to date on the new materials, systems, codes, and technologies that are out there. Be proactive and ask questions, attend design lectures, go to learning seminars, and lunch and learns.

Catherine Carlisle Hendrick, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Castello del Balio o Pepoli and the Castello di Venere in Èrice, Sicily. The castles are on top of a mountain surrounded by wine country, overlooking the city of Trapani, and built into the mountainside. The architecture has withstood hundreds of years on top of that windy mountain, and the views are breathtaking.

What is the last book you read?
The Alice Network
, by Kate Quinn.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
My father is a handy-man in his spare time and my uncle was a custom home-builder – both introduced me to the field from the side of construction. My uncle would show me plans and tour me through homes under construction, and I’d get my hands dirty working on projects at home with my dad. My favorite part of my work now is observing the construction process and the client’s reaction to their new space that we get the privilege to work with them to design.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love to knit to be able to truly turn off my brain and remove my hands from my mobile device! That combined with a nice cup of tea and my cat or dog snuggled up in my lap is a great way to slow down. I also enjoy painting, whether with acrylic, watercolors, or oil paint. When we finally are not in quarantine, I’ll enjoy spending time with friends and family, playing board games, and visiting local breweries.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Find ways to challenge yourself outside of design, whether it is taking a business course or diving deeper into an area of engineering. Being knowledgeable in fields that are not directly related to the design portion of our profession can create opportunities to better communicate and collaborate. In the long run, this can create even better architecture. Also – live a little! Take stock in time outside of studio or work to inspire you.

Kenneth Johnston, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Embassy of the Netherlands in Berlin by OMA. The building’s interior spatial relationships are truly remarkable.

What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was ARE Review Manual: Architect Registration Exam
Studying for the exams right now and still many pages to go!

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I was always the creative type. I loved building towers out of anything when I was younger (dominos, cards, pots, Lincoln Logs, etc.) and attended art classes on the weekend. In high school, I took a few art and engineering classes for my free electives. I really enjoyed the act of making but wanted the creative freedom offered by the arts. From there, it seemed like the only logical step was architecture. I toured Virginia Tech and saw the endless number of messy models and hung drawings. It just felt right…. it felt like home.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love walking around the city or going to a new place to photograph. My best friend and I would do this often to escape the rigors of studio. Not only is it relaxing, but it a great way to reconnect and brings out a different side of your creative spirit.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
You can always learn from someone else’s experiences. Open yourself up experiences outside your profession, outside your family/friends, and outside of those with your same beliefs and views. The world becomes bigger this way, and so does your heart.

Kristin L. Jones, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque located in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, it evoked a sense of wonder and peace. Mosques are sacred spaces that allow for contemplation and prayer. It was an honor and a privilege having the experience to respect the cultural significance and history of this building.

What is the last book you read?
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
In 2010, I attended the SoCal NOMA Project Pipeline Summer Camp. I was exposed to architects of color that were doing groundbreaking projects without compromising their cultural identity and it showed me that I could be apart of this community.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I enjoy going to a spa for the day and enjoying a nice meal with friends until we shut the restaurant down.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Do everything over the top! Never allow yourself to limit your opportunities. That sports team? Join it. That language? Learn it. That person you admire? Tell them. That snack? Eat it. Look for options and never compromise.

Mert Kansu, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
One of the most memorable moments I remember was when I entered Basilica La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I was moved by how light and shadow can activate so much. As I got to look around and appreciate the level of craft and construction, I became convinced that Gaudi thought about every aspect possible of architecture while designing this structure.

What is the last book you read?
How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog, by Chad Orzel. I do not know quantum physics, nor have a dog. Luckily, you don’t need both to enjoy this book!

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
During my first studio projects. I understood that by blurring the borders between science and art, architecture was the right fit for me. I have a broad range interests and passions that I won’t want to constrain with a discipline that requires a narrow focus of practice.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Spending time with my friends, the activity and purpose of gathering would not matter! If I’m by myself, working out, or finding a new hobby to do!

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Don’t let anyone scare you away by the workload of architectural school, do what you are passionate about and you will never get bored. Have patience, be curious and have fun!

Michael Lawson, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I feel very lucky to say that my home is that building. My wife and I bought it last year, and to have this place as my shelter during the pandemic has been quite a gift – there is enough room for me to set up an office with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a trail near my front door I can use to take a short break from work. The house was built in 1920, so it keeps giving in ways that are educational to say the least

What is the last book you read?
I just finished Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut which was published in 1952 but illustrates a dystopian society run entirely by machines. It shows incredible foresight from Vonnegut, warning of the changing relationship between worker and machine, and how human behavior becomes the thing that is mechanized. It is absolutely worth a read today knowing how automation is sneaking into every aspect of human life.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I graduated with a degree in music at the height of the 2008 recession and ultimately desperately needed a job. Without knowing a thing about architecture, I eventually found a job in the mailroom of the firm where I am now employed as a Project Architect, but the time between then and now was filled with edification and discovery, and a good sabbatical to grad school somewhere in the mix.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
While I used to walk to and from work to clear my head, I’ve always found riding my bike or running to be great ways of allowing my brain to decompress.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
The path of an architect is one of continual education, learning things from the time you start until your career ends. The best architects out there always tried new things in acts of discovery as much for their own education as for the place they were making.

Randa Malkawi, AIAS

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in NYC. Its facade is exciting and fascinating enough to spark an interest in the viewer and invite them to explore what lives inside the building. However, the interior of the building is quite disappointing and doesn’t satisfy the sense of excitement that its exterior portrays.

What is the last book you read?
Desert Tourism: Tracing the Fragile Edges of Development. The book contains a series of essays that are edited by Virgninie Picon – Lefebvre with Aziza Chaouni

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
In Toronto, at the intersection of Queen and College St. I looked up and was amazed at the clusters of buildings that framed the sky. The contrast between the rigidity of these architectural objects and the softness of the sky, and the ways in which these buildings would come to a stopping point while the sky would continue infinitely created a stark contrast that sparked my passion and interest.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Walk around the city and make observations or explore art galleries and museums.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Be confident and don’t be afraid to explore that one crazy idea that you have.

Gabriela Orizondo, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Does an entire ‘city’ count? On the positive, visiting Machu Picchu reminded me of the power and permanence of the built environment. On a negative note, it made me realize how fast-paced our profession has become, and how we don’t see new ‘buildings’ like that anymore.

What is the last book you read?
El Alquimista’ (The Alchemist) by Paulo Coelho

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I still have this vivid memory of me staring at a construction worker mixing concrete by hand with a shovel. My mom was doing an addition to the back of our house, and I was allowed to sit and watch all day as they created something out of nothing. As the worker laid each block I just kept thinking, “this is real life Legos!” When the workers were done for the day, I went to my room and built two different Lego models to show my mom what the addition could look like. I didn’t know it then, but I guess you could say that was my first design presentation.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Puzzles. I can easily let my mind go blank and spend hours putting a puzzle together. The last one I completed was a moon puzzle, and I am currently working on an earth one.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Being a ‘good’ sketcher does not mean you should be an Architect, just like being a ‘bad’ sketcher does not mean you shouldn’t.

Allison Powell, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
I was really impressed with the addition to the Beth Ahabah Education Building in Richmond by Shinberg Levinas. Located in the historic residential district of the Fan, it definitely stands out, but in a subtle way. I love the detailing of the façade. It is unique and telling of the building use while still remaining contextually proportionate.

What is the last book you read?
I’m currently reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I remember finding house plan advertisements in some of my mom’s magazines growing up. I loved to study them, sketch them out, and then make my own changes to try and “improve” the designs.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love to take my dog for walks along the James River.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Being an Architect is about much more than what you learn in school. There are so many different ways to excel in the profession whether through design, project management, or firm leadership. Hold on to your original “why”, but also don’t limit yourself. Figure out where your own strengths are and always look for opportunities to continue to grow.

Zach Robinson, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Great Pyramids – the only surviving of the 7 wonders.

What is the last book you read?
When Rocks Cry Out – Horace Butler

How did you discover your passion for architecture?      
I was playing hide and seek with my father frequently. So I designed my own space to hide and he couldn’t find me, legitimately. Humbly, it was a masterpiece, lol. He sat me down and explained to me that he never had a space of his own as a child, and I learned then that everybody doesn’t have the privilege to have their own space. Since I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to do my part to create spaces for others to enjoy. Hence architecture, and then my second degree in Urban Design.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Read, sleep, eat, laugh, feel the sun on my face, cry, yell. It’s all pretty relaxing if I just breathe and allow my self to be present for a few seconds.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
Have fun protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Jacob Sherry, AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
The Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland by Thomas Phifer and Partners. I recently visited on my 29th birthday, an abnormally beautiful December day, and was truly inspired by simplistic but thoughtful use of materials and forms. It has always been a dream of mine to design & build a gallery and I hope to be fortunate enough to have a similar opportunity to design a space so elegant, materialistic, and rooted in nature.

What is the last book you read?
The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand. I felt like this was a must-read as an artist, architect, designer. It took me a long time to get through it but I’m glad I did. Honestly, I didn’t love the book because the overall motif became apparent about halfway through, and then it just felt like a chore to finish the rest of the book. It was a lot of words and pages for what I started to find as a redundant theme. All-in-all, reading it invoked some great internal thought on the pursuit of design and success, so I’m glad to have experienced it. I want to watch the film now to see how it holds up to my mental imagery.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I took some technical drawing classes in middle school and high school where I first discovered my love for a drawing board and T-square. We would draw axonometrics of tools & parts for machines and I became very proficient at it quickly. Through that workshop class, I was also introduced to designing and building sets for the plays & musicals at the school where I grew my love for building/creating. I thought this meant I wanted to be an engineer but after a few college visits, I became bored when I realized my artistic side was being neglected. I was then suggested to look into Architecture and it was the perfect fit of creativity, art, and technicality.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I’m always on the move whether it be design related, YAF, ELA, golfing, playing sports, working in my garden, training jiu-jitsu, yoga, going to see live music, and so on…. But when I do slow down it is typically for some local food, beers, and hanging with friends.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
You are and will always be your own best advocate. Take chances and don’t be afraid to fail. Find what is important to you. What excites you. What you like, what you don’t like. Allow this to motivate & challenge you through your entire pursuit. Keep note of it on a regular basis [in an iPhone note, a sketchbook, a post-it note on your bedroom wall, in your wallet/purse]. It will likely [should] change and evolve, but its motivating presence will remain the same if what you wrote down is of your truest self. Learn to incorporate it into your work, your leisure, your everyday life. And enjoy the journey!

Matt C. Stevison, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
Santiago Calatrava – World Trade Center Transportation Hub. It evoked the grandeur and scale of a cathedral and was one of the most ethereal and aspirational buildings I have recently had the pleasure to experience.

What is the last book you read?
Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
I always wanted to be involved with Architecture as far back as I can remember. That goal was cemented for me in 6th grade when my family took us to see Fallingwater.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Ski, Spend time at my cabin, Cook outdoors

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
This is more for architecture students. School is great for teaching people to think and speak like designers but the business and construction aspects of architecture tend to be glossed over and are arguably more important in the real world. If one cares about design, understanding how things are budgeted and built, and how a business needs to function to execute your good ideas is tremendously important. Spend some time taking business and construction management classes, intern for a construction company, and read books on these topics. It will set you up for more success once you begin work at a practice.

James Vidoni, Associate AIA

What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?
On a recent trip to Chicago, I stumbled upon the Apple store by Foster + Partners. It is simultaneously a pavilion, a plaza, and a room. Large structural glass sheets soften the edge of the building, blurring the line that separates the interior and exterior. I was surprised by the simplicity of the idea and the execution of detailing.

What is the last book you read?
Currently reading The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, an interesting account of how tree’s sense, how they communicate, and how they work together to survive. Also reading The Nature and Art of Workmanship by David Pye, this is a great read for anyone who is interested in gaining a better understanding of craft. Pye, an architect, and woodworker has a unique understanding of the difference between risk and certainty in design and manufacturing.

How did you discover your passion for architecture?
Through Making. Over the course of my adult life, I’ve lived in different parts of the country and had various jobs. I found a common thread that over the years that motivated me. I enjoyed making things that came from an idea. In some way, my passion for architecture came through life experience, through work, and searching for a career that would allow me to continue to make.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
When my children are awake we spend much of our time outside, there is a park nearby with several hiking trails and a meandering stream. This is where my family goes for fun and relaxation. When they are asleep, I enjoy a good IPA and carving wooden spoons.

What advice do you have for aspiring architects?
As you transition from an education to the practice of Architecture, continue to study and seek out the aspect of Architecture that moves you. Bring your findings and desire into your work.

ELA Class Update

Get sixteen people in a room with different backgrounds, strengths, design philosophies, and passions, and what do you get? An incredible array of concepts that address a variety of problems in order to arrive, not to a single solution, but to a strong combination of ideas.

This is what the ELA class of 2020 has been focusing on for the past two months. In January the class got together for the first time, and through ‘Pecha Kucha’ presentations, students had three minutes to introduce themselves to fellow classmates and members of the executive committee. After an overview of the program, a team photo and a delicious lunch, the team got to hear from renowned design professionals in the industry. Bryan Clark Green Ph.D., LEED AP BD+C talked about the importance and emergence of our profession, followed by Kelly O’Keefe who gave an inspiring lecture on the importance of creative thinking and problem solving through design.

A month later, the team met in Portsmouth, VA for its second session of the program. It was then that the project brief was revealed. The class has to develop a project that focuses on promoting the growth of Downtown and Olde Towne Portsmouth districts. During the session, we heard from Brian Swets, AICP and Robert Moore, Director of Economic Development, about the city’s geography, history, culture, economy, social structure, and the city’s development plans. Afterward Nathan Lahy, PLA, ASLA discussed how to effectively and creatively transform underutilized “leftover spaces”. Following a walking tour led by Carl Jackson, AICP, Dick Gresham showed the team how to utilize and implement Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. The Friday session culminated with a presentation from Georgie Márquez, AIA on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

On Saturday morning the team got together to begin strategizing on how to tackle this very intentionally vague brief. Everyone had an opportunity to voice their thoughts on what this project is, who the clients are, and how is a group of 16 ‘students’ from different cities in Virginia going to approach this challenge. After long discussions, it seemed that similar concepts emerged in different forms, but these ideas were still too fresh and unpolished to decide on just one. Ideas were written down, notes were taken, polls were sent out, folders were created, calls were scheduled, and action items were assigned. The team left the meeting excited and motivated about the future sessions and project discussions. As not to lose any momentum, the team has kept in contact and is now working on refining ideas to select a client, a project type, and a scale to successfully complete the challenge that has been presented to them.

The class will meet again this month to discuss individual strengths and professionalism. This session will help the class explore and understand their top strengths, while also guiding them to recognize their roles within the group. The team is looking forward to meeting once again to further the discussion in person about the development of the project.

Submitted by Gabriela Orizondo, Assoc. AIA, 2020 ELA class member.

Class of 2020

The 2020 Class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture includes:

Allison Powell, AIA
Amanda Ferzoco, Associate AIA
Ariana Arenius, AIAS
Catherine Hendrick, AIA
Chris Cheng, AIAS
Gabriela Orizondo, Associate AIA
Jacob Sherry, AIA
James Vidoni, Associate AIA
Kenneth Johnston, Associate AIA
Kristin Jones, Associate AIA
Matt Stevison, Associate AIA
Mert Kansu, Associate AIA
Michael Lawson, AIA
Paris Casey, AIAS
Randa Malkawi, AIAS
Zachary Robinson, Associate AIA

Also pictured are Interim Chair, Christopher Kehde, AIA, Vice-Chair, Nick Cooper, AIA, and ELA 2019 member Divya Nautiyal, Assoc. AIA.