Meet Kathleen Frazier, FAIA

Kathy is a founding member of Frazier Associates and is the Principal-in-Charge of architecture, urban design, and wayfinding projects. She is a certified Historical Architect with the U. S. Department of the Interior. Kathy’s extensive experience in historic preservation and community redevelopment projects includes adaptive reuse, facade rehabilitation, new construction in historic districts, design guidelines, streetscape, and corridor design, as well as town-wide signage and wayfinding programs.

Kathy has overseen the design services for the Virginia Main Street Program since its inception in 1986; it is an affiliate of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center. She also has extensive experience with historic tax credit and Community Development Block Grant funding mechanisms. Kathy’s experience and collaborative approach extend to the firm’s numerous local government clients as well as various private and state institutional, and educational clients.

Through the firm, her projects have won numerous awards, including those from the American Institute of Architects, Preservation Virginia, and previously the Preservation Alliance of Virginia, as well as numerous regional and local organizations. Her projects have also been featured in publications such as Traditional Building, Southern Living, Virginia Living and Urban Land Magazine and she has written various articles on downtown revitalization for the National Main Street Center publications. Kathy was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia Main Street Program. She also served two terms on the governor-appointed Virginia Art and Architectural Review Board.

Where did you go to college?
I started at Mary Baldwin College because I thought that I wanted to be an artist. They had a terrific small art department but in the process of taking many art history classes, I realized that architecture was my calling. I then transferred to The University of Virginia where I received my degree in architecture.

What does it take to be an architect?
I think it begins with a love for buildings and places as well as a dedication to learning and serving. Of course, one needs to be able to think three-dimensionally too! After graduating from college, I worked as a designer for the Historic Staunton Foundation as they started their effort to preserve and revitalize downtown Staunton. That experience started me on the path of working with property owners and helping them understand the unique history of their building, how to bring it back to life, and at the same time, boost their business and visibility in the community.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?
When at Mary Baldwin, I learned about a Washington D.C. architect, T. J. Collins who moved to Staunton in the late 19th century. The firm was still in operation until about 15 years ago and I did an internship there in 1976 and also worked there after graduating from the University of Virginia. At that time, the firm was run by T.J. Collins’ grandson, the sixth generation of builders/architects in the family.

Collins and his sons designed hundreds of buildings in Staunton and other communities in the Valley in every conceivable style of the period from Romanesque to Classical Revival. All the drawings still exist in Historic Staunton Foundation’s archives and many of the buildings survive as well. That experience really gave me an interest in historic preservation, and also I met my future husband, Bill Frazier, at the office in 1976 as he was doing his architectural history master’s thesis on T. J. Collins.

I also want to acknowledge Bruce Abbey, one of my professors at UVa. I had him for studio as well as lecture classes. He is the one who really sparked my thinking about contextualism and it guided my thinking on design in historic areas.

What are you currently reading?
One Summer: America, 1927
by Bill Bryson. A fascinating moment in our history when so much happened!

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Every meal my husband, Bill cooks! That said, the most amazing surprise meal/restaurant was La Bernadin in New York City back in the late 1990s. It is still there today and is one of the best restaurants in the country. We found it simply by luck and oh my, what a meal.

Why do you volunteer with AIA?
Because it is important for the general public to understand what and how architects contribute to our communities. Everyone knows about the need to go to a lawyer or a doctor, but going to an architect somehow seems optional. It is always an interesting experience to work with communities and individuals who have never used an architect and see their understanding and appreciation grow for the profession. So, volunteering with AIA as well as with local non-profit organizations helps foster that link to society, and it helps to encourage more young people to join the profession! While it has been a long journey, it is so worthwhile and rewarding!

Sanford Bond, FAIA Exhibition

Currently on exhibit at The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design

Planar Assemblages: Furniture + Other Works
Sanford Bond, FAIA

Sculptures, furniture, and other work from the career of Sanford Bond, FAIA. In our Main Galleries November 8 – January 7, 2019.

“My career has focused on creating places by defining space with various materials and building methods. Primarily as an architect, I create places for human use and habitation using a palette of different materials with a range of spatial definitions in order to define discreet regions of space accommodating various human endeavors. Every material possesses a set of characteristics rendering it different from any other and lending it to a particular building method. These innate qualities may be used to define unique and different places enabling a range of use and meaning, differing with the person and their unique set of experiences.”

Meet Nick Serfass, FAIA

Nick Serfass, FAIA is currently the Executive Director of the AIAS, past Assistant Director of IDP at NCARB, and formerly a Project Architect at Baskervill in Richmond, VA. He advocates for causes impactful to today’s architecture student and emerging professional. He has spoken on campus at over 75 schools of architecture on the topic of career design, initiated the establishment of new architecture student conferences – CRIT Live: Student Research Symposia and THRIVE: Career Prep, founded NCARB’s Intern Think Tank, helped shepherd the experience requirement for licensure from IDP to IDP 2.0 to AXP, co-led a mentoring program at Baskervill that won the AIA/NCARB IDP Outstanding Firm Award, and hosted over 50 episodes of The #AskAnArchitect Show on YouTube. He is also a nationally-recognized speaker for ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership on the topics of digital transformation and leadership/management. He has two sons, Gray and Jack, that he and his wife are working on domesticating in their spare time in Midlothian, Virginia.

Where did you go to college?
Bachelors from the University of Virginia, MArch from the University of Miami, MBA from Auburn University

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person?
There’s never been a better time – and it’s not about the economy. Whether you want to be an architect in traditional practice or not, the study of architecture helps establish competency in design thinking which has innumerable assets in today’s business environment. More and more companies are seeking design thinking and an architect’s approach to problem-solving. The architecture student of today can use this to their competitive advantage to provide significant value in a range of industries and businesses. Everything demands design thinking in 2018.

What does it take to be an architect?
Ambiguity tolerance, lack of ego, and empathy. Ambiguity tolerance: You have to come to grips with the fact you can’t know everything and get comfortable in that space. Lack of ego: Every project requires a team and teamwork – silos and individualistic attitudes are toxic. Empathy: It’s about the people, not the creative – big ears foster the best design.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?
Originally it was Palladio, but he was a little hard to relate to being 1/2 millennium older than me. Then it was Michael Graves until I read his biography Design for Life, which paints a questionable portrait of his early days until he makes his philanthropic turnaround later in his career. So, now it’s my first mentor, Bruce Brooks, formerly of Baskervill and now of Noelker & Hull here in Richmond – someone who gave me opportunities early on and put me in position to be the architect and manager that I am today.

What are you currently reading?
The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve by G. Edward Griffin. This book will make you question everything you know about our American financial system. It’s a historical expose framed as a crime drama – the crime being the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank. If you’ve read “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, this is a necessary follow up read. I really don’t know why anyone reads fiction anymore when the reality is way more interesting than anything you could fabricate.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
The takeout personal pizzas at Tavern 19 in Midlothian that I get every Tuesday night for 1/2 off on the way home from work are delicious. They are equally sublime whether eaten in the comfort of your own home or on their patio overlooking the 18th green at Independence Golf Club. The food and ambiance in Midlothian are the most underrated in the state!

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?
I volunteer with the AIA to diversify the impact I’m able to make in the profession. Sure, I have my daily job and work, but the AIA provides another channel to help do good things and make a difference in people’s lives.

What Membership Should Mean To Us

Most of you have recently received your membership dues statement from 1735 New York Avenue, NW, the home of the American Institute of Architects. As we all consider this payment of our professional dues, I thought it might be beneficial to reflect on what our membership in the AIA should mean to us. (Keep in mind, this is coming from a self-proclaimed “AIA Junkie”):

Through the AIA, we have a shared heritage.

In 1857, thirteen men gathered in New York to form the American Institute of Architects. These gentlemen did not have a plastic card in their wallets; they did not have a pin to wear on their lapels; they did not have an acronym following their names. What they DID have was a vision in their minds and passion in their hearts for what the profession of architecture could become … IF there was a collective body … to unite in fellowship; to promote the profession; to advance the standards of education, training, and practice; and to increasingly serve society. These core values of the AIA, we should reflect upon as we design our own futures.

Yet, we have a wealth of individual experiences.

Now with over 89,000 members, the AIA serves as the collective voice of architects across the country and around the world. However, even though we as a profession are bound by our shared experiences in our respective paths through architectural education, training, and practice, we each approach our work – and our passion – as individuals. Every member of our profession has something unique to offer, and the profession needs each one of these varied talents, skills, and abilities. We’ve been ‘called’ to the practice of architecture because of our desire to enrich the living experiences of those we serve, and how wonderful it is that we can do so in our own unique ways.

Together, we look to the future.

In France, as in many countries, architects swear a solemn oath upon becoming licensed. Roughly translated, this vow reads, “In respect to the public interest, which attaches great value to architectural quality, I swear to exercise my profession with conscience and integrity and to observe the rules contained in the law on architecture and the Code of Professional Duties.” How different would our profession be if we pledged – even privately – to uphold the ideals of our beloved profession for a public that “attaches great value to architectural quality?” This shift in our own professional culture is what we’re working toward … to foster a broader, societal culture that appreciates architecture and values what we do as architects.

Advocacy to ensure our profession’s relevance to the public is what the staff team at AIA Virginia dedicates itself to every day. We work to combine our sincere compassion for the individual – a true dedication to each member – with a strong collective direction for this profession in the Commonwealth. We hope that as you pay your 2017 AIA dues, you perceive this level of devoted service and support. Many thanks for your contributions to society through your work, and for renewing your membership in your professional society!

Helene C. Dreiling signature





Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA
Executive Director

Demystifying Fellowship Webinar






Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a Fellow? Not sure where to start on your application?

Join Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, on June 2 at noon for a one-hour webinar on what it takes to prepare a successful package.

The webinar isn’t just for people ready to apply. It’s never too early to start thinking about Fellowship. The sooner you start preparing, the better off you’ll be!

There is no charge for this webinar.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Noon – 1 p.m.
1 LU available.

The AIA Fellowship program was developed to elevate those architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession. Election to Fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of the architect as an individual, but also honors before the public and the profession a model architect who has made a significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level.

Helene Combs Dreiling Annual Scholarship

The AIA Fellows of Virginia is proud to announce the formation of the Helene Combs Dreiling Annual Scholarship to honor its namesake, now serving as AIA Virginia Executive Director/CEO, for her generous contributions to the profession.

“Our goal is to benefit future leaders in the field of architecture. This scholarship fund will give young architects opportunities such as access to AIA Convention Fellowships, a professional development City Summer and mentoring programs,” says VCU University Architect Mary Patton Cox, FAIA. “Throughout her career, Helene has championed the needs of emerging professional architects and advocated on their behalf, not just in her current role, but also as president of AIA Blue Ridge, president of AIA Virginia, Regional Director for the Virginias, staff vice president of the American Institute of Architects and as national president of the American Institute of Architects. Helene, herself, was elevated to fellowship in 2000.”

So far, the AIA Fellows of Virginia have raised more than half of the total endowment goal and are continuing to accept donations. They expect the scholarship to be fully endowed by the end of next year so that scholarships can be available in 2017. The Helene Combs Dreiling Annual Scholarship will be awarded to students, interns and young professionals up to 10 years after receiving their accredited degree.

To donate by check:
Make your check payable to the “Virginia Foundation for Architecture”
Send your check to:
Keesha Ezell
Virginia Foundation for Architecture
2501 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220

To donate by credit card:
Call Keesha Ezell at 804-644-3041, ext. 200.  She or her associate will take your credit card number over the phone.

To transfer securities:
1. Notify Keesha Ezell of the date of the transfer
2. Give the following information to your financial planner or broker:
Virginia Foundation for Architecture – Helene Combs Dreiling FAIA Endowed Scholarship Fund
DTC  0715
Acct: 1170-9400



Mills Awarded Fellowship

The 2015 Jury of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has elevated Robert S. Mills to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession.

Robert S. Mills, FAIA, CID, NCARB is one of the founding principals of Commonwealth Architects. With more than 32 years of MillsFellowship2015experience, Robert is involved in all aspects of the firm’s practice in the areas of architecture, historic architecture, interior architecture, planning and management.

In addition to serving as the AIA representative on City and State Boards and Commissions, Robert served as Vice President for the Virginia Society AIA from 2002-2004 and in various roles within the  AIA Richmond over the years.

Recognized for exceptional service, leadership and professional expertise on the City of Richmond’s Planning Commission and Commission of Architectural Review, Robert received the Virginia Society AIA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2008 and the AIA Richmond Marcellus Wright Jr. Award for Public Service in 2012.

While serving as President of Commonwealth Architects, the firm was awarded the Virginia Society AIA’s T. David Fitz-Gibbon Architecture Firm Award in 2011. The highest award bestowed upon a firm by the Virginia Society, it underscores the invaluable contributions of rehabilitation and compatible infill design as catalyst for revitalizing livable communities.

Robert will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2015 National AIA Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta in May.

The Fellowship program was developed to elevate those architects who have made a significant contribution to architecture and society and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession. Election to fellowship not only recognizes the achievements of architects as individuals, but also their significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level.


Abbott’s Work Featured in VCA Exhibition

Untitled 4, Carlton Abbott, FAIA
Untitled 4, Carlton Abbott, FAIA

You’re probably familiar with Carlton Abbott’s work as an architect, but are you aware of his work as an artist? You might wonder when the architect of the  Museum of the Confederacy’s new Appomattox site, the Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Jamestown Visitor Centers,  the Mt. Vernon Trail of the George Washington Parkway, and the Mariner’s Museum (among many, many other projects) has time to create works of art. After exploring the Virginia Center for Architecture’s newest exhibition Featured Fellows: The Art & Architecture of Carlton Abbott, FAIA you’ll probably wonder when he has time to create architecture! Carlton Abbott, FAIA, winner of more than 80 awards for architectural accomplishments, and son of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s original landscape architect, has enjoyed a brilliant career as an architect and artist. See a collection of his artwork including drawings, models, paintings, mixed media, sculpture and metal work on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture from Jan. 19 through March 25, 2012.

With five decades of art and architecture under his belt, Abbott shows no signs of slowing down. Abbott is a dedicated artist and designer whose career aspirations were inspired by his father, Stanley W. Abbott, the first resident landscape architect and primary designer of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Born in Salem, Virginia, in 1939, Carlton Sturges Abbott attended the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1963.  He also studied under a scholarship at the École des Beaux-Arts, Fontainebleau, France and ultimately became an architect, land planner, and president of Carlton Abbott and Partners in Williamsburg, Virginia.

In addition to being elevated in 1983 to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, and receiving countless awards for design excellence, he was recognized with the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects’ two highest professional honors: the T. David Fitz-Gibbon Architecture Firm Award in 1995 and the William C. Noland Medal in 1999.

Special Events

The Art and Architecture of Carlton Abbott Opening Reception
Thursday, Jan. 19, 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Be among the first to explore a collection of Carlton Abbott’s artwork including drawings, models, paintings, mixed media, sculpture and metal work. Enjoy light refreshments. Space is limited. RSVP to or (804) 644-3041, ext. 100 to secure your space. Free.

Art with Abbott Workshop
Friday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Take advantage of this unique opportunity to get creative with Carlton Abbott.  The Williamsburg architect and artist provides an in-depth talk about his works on view and “draws” on his expertise to guide participants in mixed-media projects.  The experience includes drawing, painting, and additional creative hands-on opportunities.  The workshop is appropriate for anyone interested in learning more about artistic processes, the overlapping fields of art and architecture, and creativity (no previous art or architecture experience necessary).  $85 fee includes all supplies, instruction, and lunch. Space is limited. RSVP to or (804) 644-3041, ext. 100 to secure your space.

Carlton Abbott Trunk Show
Thursday, Feb. 2, 4–6 p.m.
Carlton Abbott draws on his architecture background to create captivating hand-sculpted silver pieces. Abbott hosts a trunk show and sale of these wearable works of art as featured in Belle magazine. RSVP to or (804) 644-3041, ext. 100 to secure your space.  Free.

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 5:30–7:30 p.m.

The Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Virginia Center for Architecture host a social event featuring light refreshments and an exploration of Featured Fellows: The Art and Architecture of Carlton Abbott, FAIA. Meet Carlton Abbott and see a collection of his artwork including drawings, models, paintings, mixed media, sculpture and metal work. Sponsored by Shade & Wise Brick Company. Space is limited. RSVP to or (804) 644-3041, ext. 100 to secure your space. Free.

Carlton Abbott Coffee and Gallery Talk
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 9–10 a.m.
Join Carlton Abbott for a gallery talk and exploration of his work featured in the exhibition. Take part in an informal and enlightening conversation of the art- and architecture-based works on view, as well as learn about his inspiration and techniques. RSVP to or (804) 644-3041, ext. 100 to secure your space. Free.

The Art and Architecture of Carlton Abbott Family Day
Saturday, March 3, 1–3 p.m.
Create your own work of art, participate in a gallery tour, and complete a scavenger hunt!  Experiment with the ideas from the exhibition Featured Fellows: The Art and Architecture of Carlton Abbott and design a unique work to take home with you.

The Art and Architecture of Carlton Abbott Departure Party
Thursday, March 22, 4–6:30 p.m.
Join us for an evening with Carlton Abbott, light refreshments, and music as we celebrate the exhibition before it departs. RSVP to or (804) 644-3041, ext. 100 to secure your space. Free.

The Virginia Center for Architecture is located at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District. The Center is dedicated to developing the understanding of the power and importance of architecture through programs, exhibitions, and its stewardship of an historic landmark. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Learn more at

Our Virginia Center for Architecture

A message from Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Executive Director

Virginia Center for Architecture Educational ProgrammingThe team at the Virginia Center for Architecture is working diligently — and successfully — to stabilize our current financial position, offer expanded programming and outreach, and provide for the Center’s future security. Since joining the Center’s staff as Executive Director on Jan. 21, 2011, the Center has made huge stride towards its mission of developing the understanding of architecture and its influence on our lives, our communities, and our world.

Our Financial Picture

According to the Board-developed strategic plan and budget projection, the Center is ahead on all revenues and receipts – in some cases by as much as 200%.  With over 3,500 unique visitors since January, the VCA has had more traffic than at any time since the opening weeks. Additionally, a series of programs and initiatives have been instituted to elevate the monthly income for the Center.  

We have commenced an active fundraising campaign with multiple divisions and over $1.5 million in requests pending. Grant preparations continue at an aggressive pace. A $90,000 grant was affirmed by the Cabell Foundation, and a $60,000 grant was received from the Windsor Foundation for historic preservation, among other smaller gifts.

For the first time ever in its history, the Center will actively reach out to all architects in the state who are over fifty-five years of age, as well as anyone who has previously been a member of the VCA who has reached that age level, to request support through estate planning.  The campaign is chaired by G. Truman Ward, FAIA, of Fairfax/Marshall, who has himself provided a generous bequest to the Center within his estate plans.      

Also for the first time, the VCA will solicit financial support from civic clubs and social organizations in and around Richmond.  Chaired by Board Secretary and Richmonder Laura Cameron, the campaign commenced in July with letters to clubs within the City of Richmond, followed thereafter by Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, and other counties. 

Another first includes outreach to the five local chapters of the American Institute of Architects throughout Virginia, seeking their support as collective bodies representing the profession.  This campaign emphasizes the public outreach aspect of the Center’s mission as it benefits architects across the state.

Realizing that building product manufacturers and service providers to architects are a major aspect of the design and construction industry, a structured campaign is being developed to solicit contributions from every type of building materials supplier and vendor through a challenge program for each division.

As with any older, historic structure, programmed restoration, conservation, and maintenance are significant ongoing expenses.  This preservation campaign, chaired by Richmond’s Hugh C. Miller, FAIA, focuses on ‘adoption’ to conserve the uniquely beautiful windows throughout the Center, as well as funding the repair of other building elements. 

Historically, the Virginia Foundation for Architecture has had only an endowment for scholarships.  With the increased interest in historic preservation of the building and operating coverage for monthly expenses, the Board has agreed to establish an endowment for both preservation and operations.


Our Statewide Outreach

We are developing new programs to expand our impact and influence as a Virginia institution. Modeled after the decade-long, highly popular “Shape of Texas” series, we are investigating  a “Shape of Virginia” radio series spotlighting a different, significant Virginia building in each of the weekly radio spots to be aired on public radio.


We are presently identifying a series of projects from throughout the state which require significant “intervention.” Using a public-private partnership approach, the Center will serve as facilitator and connector for these projects that might otherwise not be realized if shepherded solely by the local municipality.


Working with Sustainable Design Consulting, we are developing a series of symposia to be hosted at the Center, targeted to smaller municipalities and counties around the state that wish to operate sustainably but do not have the funds to hire an outside consultant to provide the expertise specific to their area.  In this series, attendees will be exposed to a wide spectrum of recommendations and suggestions — from small actions to highly complex solutions — to ‘green’ their buildings, grounds, and operations.


Based on successful school tours and education programs in the past, we are formulating a specialized curriculum of education focused on eighth graders to facilitate Standards of Learning metrics through education on architectural theory, history, and practice, as well as sustainable design and livable communities; one program has been held, with a goal of hosting 180 annually by the year 2014, our 60th anniversary.

We have enjoyed an increase in media coverage of over 400% in comparison to the same time last year, with placements in a number of local outlets, some of which were unsolicited, as well as a spot in Architect magazine featuring the Columbus tour.


Our Governance and Administration

We are striving to elevate the discourse of our Board and optimize the work of staff.We have added three of six additional Trustees to reach our Bylaws-defined capacity and are awaiting confirmation from the final three Trustee candidates.We have reached our goal of securing financial commitments from 100% of the Board of Trustees. With new offerings of architect-designed fine art, jewelry, and hand-crafted items, the shop has greater inventory without increased cash expenditure. Staff morale has been bolstered significantly; we have added one part-time staff person and secured additional volunteers, including IDP candidates seeking community service hours.  

Our Exhibitions and Programs

A full calendar of exhibitions, programs, and associated events is scheduled through 2012. Exhibitions  featuring a fine artist who utilizes architectural elements to create unique collages and collections;  a retrospective of the architecture and art of architect Carlton Sturges Abbott, FAIA; the compilation from the “Washington Monument IDEAS” competition; best work from a generation of Young Spanish Architects; and the retrospective of winning works from the VSAIA Design Awards program round out a full 2011-2012 schedule.  

A companion series of programs and educational opportunities is offered to compliment each exhibit, including opening receptions, gallery talks, family day activities, presentations, and others. Partnering with Modern Richmond Tours, a monthly series, “Modern Movies” features a screening and discussion of a documentary film on modern architecture. An ongoing program of architectural tours is planned through the next several years.  Destination Architecture :: Columbus Explored is the first of the tours and will feature buildings designed by over 80 famous architects concentrated in the ‘Midwest’s architectural mecca’ of Columbus, Indiana.  Columbus Day weekend (October 6-10) is the appropo timing for the tour.  Additional tours are under development for 2012.