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 Norfolk 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.

ELA 2020 Class Nominations Due

Nominations for the 2020 Class of Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) are due by 5 p.m.

The application and more information is available here>>

How to Stay Engaged in ELA

The Emerging Leaders in Architecture program now has 150+ alumni members! The first ten years of this program have shown that a majority of these alumni become more engaged AIA members, citizen architects, and leaders in their firms/industries.

Here’s how you can stay engaged with ELA:

  1. Sponsor class sessions/happy hour
  2. Follow/Like through Social Media Channels
    1. ELA Facebook page
    2. Current class social media
      1. 2019: Instagram – @elaclassof2019
    3. AIA Virginia Facebook and Instagram pages
  3. Attend the local event happy hours – when the class seminar day is in your area, plan to attend the happy hour afterward to connect with the current class and network with your alumni peers.
  4. Attend the annual networking dinner at Architecture Exchange East (November)
  5. Become part of the local steering or executive committees. View the Leadership structure.
    1. Work on planning sessions in your area
    2. Work on researching class project ideas. Be on a project advisory council for the class when it’s in your area.
  6. Nominate potential class members (August-October)
    1. Work with local AIA board or help with open applications
  7. Networking/Social events
    1. Help plan quarterly alumni socials around the state
    2. Help plan the annual summer reunion for all alumni and families

To get involved, or if you have any questions, email Cathy Guske, Member Services Director at AIA Virginia, cguske@aiava.org

2019 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 (and 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 2020 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 2019 the same five questions. Here are their inspiring answers.

Macy Anne Carman-Goeke

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

Macy Anne Carman-Goeke, AIAS

A: I recently had the chance to see the Pont Du Gard in person, and after all those years of studying it, it took my breath away to see it and appreciate the craftsmanship that brought such incredible engineering to life.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The All-Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg for a fun read, and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert for a more sobering read.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I had an early knack for puzzles, and discovered that I was more interested in designing a building for my future-career-of-the-day in childhood than the career itself. A dolphin training center, veterinary hospital, and horse barn were just a few of the things I designed. However my curiosity about all things led me down some other roads, and I came back to architecture as a career change after spending time in the environmental and community policy sector, and seeing first hand the way the built environment impacts human lives and the health of our planet.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: To spend time outside hiking, cycling, running, or camping with my husband, taking photographs, traveling to new places, listening to a fascinating podcast, or reading a good book.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: To never box yourself in- we build in a complicated and messy world. Everything is related to architecture and the more you know about it, the better the architect you will be.


Annesley Cole

Annesley Cole, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

A: Most recently, the Royal Danish Library (the Black Diamond) in Copenhagen. It was incredible to experience how something as traditional as a library could be a vibrant modern destination, constantly buzzing with activity – both from visitors and locals.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (and – ongoing in the background – the Ballast ARE 5.0 book!)

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I’ve always loved puzzles, and figuring out how to make things fit together. We moved a handful of times in my childhood, and each time my parents had the option of a move-in-ready house or one on the verge of collapsing. Needless to say, they always took on the challenge, and I spent many hours watching my mom (an author by trade) hand sketch over the architect’s blueprints to make each house work best for our family of 6. I loved seeing the way a building could shape how and where we spent our time, and continue to love the puzzle that is figuring out how a building will work best for the end user.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: At the end of a long day, I love to go down and sit on the beach with my husband (and our dog!) and just catch up and unwind.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Know that this field is a constant learning curve and that you will make mistakes (especially in the beginning!), and that is totally okay. Make friends with your coworkers, because work is a lot more fun when you have people to push through deadlines with, joke with, and collaborate with – not to mention someone who will answer your dumb questions. Also remember that acknowledgment of, credit to, and gratitude for others goes a long way. Everybody likes to know they are appreciated!


Ashley LeFew Falwell

Ashley LeFew Falwell, AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

A: Lately, I’ve loved opportunities for bird’s eye city views. In Paris, Sacre Coeur is glowing in the distance from many vantage points. Then once you’ve arrived, the perspective it provides is awe-inspiring.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The 12th book in the Gamache series by Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning. This is a mystery series, but I most enjoy Penny’s lovingly flawed protagonists, brilliant descriptions of art, and thoughtful reflections on human nature. And Book 13 features an architect!

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: My grandmother started teaching me to paint and draw when I was very young. Through her mentorship, I learned how to really slow down and see. I was equally drawn to all of the core subjects in school, but I craved subjectivity in response to an emphasis on memorization and testing. I found a counterpoint in art classes and enjoyed the intuition and embodied knowledge involved in making things. Through travel opportunities and over time, I became more and more interested in large-scale installation and the built environment. I see architecture as the fascinating intersection of many disciplines in physical form; it’s at once technical and empathetic.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Reading is high on the list. It’s even better when combined with the outdoors, a cat, or a cup of coffee. I also love knitting, walking, and meaningful conversations with my extraordinary family and friends.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: One of my professors always said, ‘It takes forty years to become an architect.’ At the time, I thought he was exaggerating. Once I began practicing in an office, his words rang true to me. Becoming an architect is a lifelong process. If you embrace a love of learning and a sense of curiosity, you will never lack for inspiration.


Ojima Glover

Ojima Glover, AIAS

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

A: The Research and Development Center at Virginia Tech. Reason being, I am currently working in the space and seeing how we can take the original design, and mold it to what Virginia Tech needs today. I have had the opportunity to talk to the building’s designers and see why they made certain design decisions. Having the opportunity to compliment the design is a wonderful learning experience for me and has reiterated for me that it is possible to work on an existing building without taking away a lot of its character.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The Warm of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. This book highlights the migration of African-Americans from the south to the north.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: That is a funny story. I grew up wanting to go into law because I felt that was the best way to help people. I didn’t want to do Architecture for a long time because of the math involved and I didn’t know how involved with people one could be. My mom pushed for me to look into it because I loved creating things and she didn’t want me to let that go. So after doing a days worth of research about what Architects do, I was hooked and knew that this was the field I wanted to go into. (With a complementary degree in contractual law of course.)

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: I love to spend time with friends, read, and SLEEP!!

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Don’t come in with any preconceived notions of what you must do or know. Enjoy your time exploring architecture and have fun with your designs! Push the boundaries and see what can come out of it. Find what’s important to you in design and let it influence your design and the firms you choose to go for!


Karim Habbab

Karim Habbab, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: The Garage in Charlottesville, VA. It is a single car garage located on a side street across from Market Street Park. Every once in a while the garage door opens, people gather on a grassy hill across the street, and a band performs live music. It is a gem hidden in plain sight and a wonderful use of space.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Growing up having architect parents instilled in me the importance of design excellence at a young age. I was privileged to have accompanied them to job sites as a child. It was when I saw their sketches become reality that I decided to pursue architecture as a career.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Reconnect with nature and get some fresh air. I currently live near the blue ridge mountains, so I usually hop on over to Shenandoah national park and go on a quick hike.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: You will excel if you are passionate about your work. I challenge you to wear many hats when analyzing your work and never be afraid to go back to the drawing board.


Kelley Holmes

Kelley Holmes, AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: I recently visited Paisley Park – the home, music studio, and playground of one of my music idols, Prince Rogers Nelson. The 65,000 square foot multi-purpose facility, constructed in 1987, blew me away in regards to its overall scale. Though many parts of it still felt of the 1980s/1990s era of postmodern architecture, it was an amazing and emotional experience to be in the same spaces where much of Prince’s music was recorded and where two of his films and many music videos were created. The 1500-person sound stage was by far the most jaw-dropping space, but I found myself especially intrigued with seeing samples of his handwriting on display.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The Hike: A Novel by Drew Magary. Filled with extraordinary characters, this fantasy saga is an exciting read with lots of twists and turns. The novel follows a suburban family man in an epic quest of life-or-death proportions. The essential lessons of the author’s overall narrative are to 1. keep moving forward in your journey and 2. practice the art of empathy by truly understanding what it is like to be in another person’s shoes.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?      

A: Like many young children, I was enamored with Legos, Lincoln Logs, and building forts in the woods. However, it was in 6th grade (’95-’96) when my father purchased a new desktop computer that came with several free programs, one of which was a very basic 3D modeling program. For me, this instantly sparked a deep interest in design, encouraging me to seek out additional programs and shadowing opportunities to explore, as well as encouraging me to include classes like drafting, art, and advanced math courses into my curriculum during middle school and high school.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Being in nature, especially near water is my preferred way to relax. But, when that option is not available, I enjoy singing along to music and listening to podcasts.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

Maintain a love for curiosity and exploration, as well as learn to ask the ‘right’ questions that will result in a thoughtful and informative response – whether it be in a job interview or during client meetings.


Sydney Huibregtse

Sydney Huibregtse, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

A: Midtown Center by SHoP Architects at 15th and I in DC. Utilizing bridges to connect the two sides make for a unique and fun feature, especially for DC.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: My mother is a graphic designer and my dad was in the construction field. Once I got old enough to understand what they did for a living, I realized my passion for wanting to design. I knew architecture was the path I wanted to take when I took a summer architecture course in high school at Cornell.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Running or paddle board

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Set goals and break boundaries. Enjoy what you do and don’t let anyone dim your light.


Breanna LaTondre

Breanna LaTondre, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

A: Biscuitville in Danville, Virginia. It is the most charming, little yellow shack in the middle of the city. I’m absolutely obsessed.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The Color of Law: Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I’ve always loved bridges, for as long as I can remember. For a while, I actually thought I wanted to be a civil engineer, but in high school, I came across the work of Santiago Calatrava. His work just absolutely changed everything I thought I knew about architecture. I thought I could design both bridges and buildings. But now, I understand my love for bridges is really driven by my love for the expression of structure, no matter what I’m designing.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Try everything. Having just graduated a year ago, I see how we can put so much pressure on ourselves to land the best job right out of school, and I have to love what I’m doing every day or I’ve failed. But that’s just not the case. You’ve got to start somewhere, taking on roles in your firm that maybe weren’t in your job description, or taking on a responsibility that you might never have done before, but it’ll stretch you to grow so much faster. Slowly figure out your strengths and weaknesses in order to shape your career for the long haul.


Divya Nautiyal

Divya Nautiyal, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Pruitt Igoe – mostly negative, but a reminder that architecture does not exist in a vacuum. Public policy, environmental & social psychology are not separate from architecture.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Design Like You Give a Damn by Cameron Sinclair and Beyond Shelter – Architecture and Human Dignity, by Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner, Patrick Coulombel, Teddy Cruz, Deborah Gans, Victoria Harris, John Norton, Sergio Palleroni, Anita van Breda, Sandra D’Urzo, Marie Aquilino.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Totally by accident but when I realized architecture had the capability to address social issues is when it truly became a passion for me.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Napping, sketching and cooking, in that order.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: To develop a discerning eye for everything around you.


Ryan Oldach

Ryan Oldach, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Not so much a single building, but an entire district – The Art Deco Historic District in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach felt like taking a step back in time. The colorful, retro, and iconic structures reminded me of how architecture from different eras can still be appreciated for their uniqueness and groundbreaking styles.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: What the Health by Eunice Wong with Kip Anderson & Keegan Kuhn

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I have always gravitated towards the creative realm of hobbies including drawing, music, and building with Legos from a very young age. When I no longer wanted to build Lego sets per their step-by-step instructions and instead come up with my own designs, I think is when I realized I wanted to be a designer.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Give me enough sunscreen and water, you can find me soaking up the sun on the beach all day long with my favorite music at my side.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Do not be afraid to speak up and ask questions – there are individuals in our profession with an immense amount of knowledge that are willing to share. All too often I found myself being too timid to ask the question of “Why?” within architecture but once I really grasped the idea that our professors, mentors, and colleagues were there to help, it opened a new world. The best advice I was ever given was by an architect with much more experience than I: “Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from a lack of wisdom.”


Jeff Rynes

Jeff Rynes, AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Palladio’s Villa Rotunda

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Lectures on Architecture Vol. 2 by Viollet-Le-Duc.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture? 

A: Playing with Legos and drawing when I was 5

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Spend time with friends and family

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Follow your passion, make the world a better place, and have fun!


Kelsey Sinichko

Kelsey Sinichko, AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently-either positive or negative?

A: The White House.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Building forts in the woods behind my house growing up

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Sunday morning ritual of coffee, piano, and easy crossword puzzles

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Surround yourself with people excited about what they do; be one of them


Ianta Summers

Ianta Summers, AIAS

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: At Fort Monroe, I am working with the National Park Service interpreting a museum house from civil war times. It is important to me that everyone’s story is told correctly so there is a lot of emotion put into my efforts.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Dear America, The Diary of a Freed Black Girl

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: On accident! I never knew this profession was something I wanted to do until I came to school and tried it out. I love how I was able to stay creative and precise at the same time.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: I love sitting by the beach. Sadly, I always have something running through my mind and never feel truly relaxed though.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: To my aspiring architects: do your homework, never stop sketching, and keep up with architectural news!! I see you’re already doing that and it’s appreciated this time 🙂


Zakiya Toney

Zakiya Toney, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: I was recently on a trip to Philadelphia and the Philadelphia City Hall building brought me to a standstill. The incredible grandeur of older masonry buildings – specifically those of more ornate architectural styles – will always be awe-inspiring to me.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: The last book that I read was the Site Planning and Design Handbook because I am currently studying for the Architect Registration Exams. (3 down, 3 to go!) I also started reading Becoming by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: I came across architecture as part of a career research project in high school, but I discovered my passion for architecture at NC State College of Design’s Design Camp in 2010. After being a camper, I applied to NC State for undergrad that fall (c/o 2015) and later returned to the camp as a Counselor and Teaching Assistant.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: My favorite way to relax is by listening to music (since taking a private jet on a quick overseas vacation is currently not a financially feasible option). It is the quickest way to calm down, ground myself and refocus.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Remember your “why.” No matter what the first projects that you are given may be, remember what got you into the profession and stay inspired. Hold on to the principles of design and principles of architecture that align with your purpose.


Jeanne Vick

Jeanne Vick, AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: I’ve never been a huge fan of Antoni Gaudi’s work, and even when standing in front of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona a few summers ago, I wasn’t “wowed.” I could appreciate the intricacy of the sculptures and was amazed by the sheer scale of the building, but it wasn’t until I stepped inside that my entire perception of his work changed. It was truly magnificent. Pictures don’t do it justice. You must see it in person.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Growing up in North Carolina, my parents took me to visit Biltmore in Asheville one summer. I was around ten or eleven and already had a passion for art and drawing. I left that house in complete awe and my desire to be an architect was born.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: Sit on a back porch with a drink and someone I love, or joyrides out into the countryside with my husband in his convertible.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Surround yourself with people that are better than you and don’t be intimated by it. They will keep you on your toes and will encourage you to reach your highest potential.


Alex Zondlo

Alex Zondlo, Assoc. AIA

Q: What building evoked a strong reaction from you recently—either positive or negative?

A: Notre Dame Cathedral because of the worldwide response in the wake of the fire.

Q: What is the last book you read?

A: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Q: How did you discover your passion for architecture?

A: Through Legos (way too many Legos) and a high school teacher who taught drafting classes.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do to relax?

A: I enjoy being outside, whether camping, hiking, or walking around DC. and also reading.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring architects?

A: Go shadow a firm and see what it is like to be an architect. If possible, participate in an experiences program during high school.