Grassroots 2020 Regional Dinner

Attending Grassroots 2020?

Please join your colleagues at the Region of The Virginias Dinner at Cochon at 6:30 p.m.

featuring the following prix fixe menu

Boucherie platter
Fried boudin w/ pickled peppers

Wood-fired shrimp with spicy garlic butter
Fried alligator with chili mayonnaise
Seasonal salad

Smoked short rib with fried new potatoes, smoked tomato butter & mushrooms
Oven roasted gulf fish
Large format pork porterhouse or chops and macaroni & cheese casserole, smothered greens

German chocolate cake
Brown sugar pound cake
Meyer lemon pie

Reservation deadline is Feb. 14.

Grassroots 2019

Rob Reis, AIA, President, AIA Virginia

Grassroots ’19 was awesome! Prior to attending my first Grassroots years ago, I had no idea what a compelling experience the conference can be. At that first Grassroots, with expectations low, I attended what for me stands as the most revealing and inspiring seminar ever on leadership.

With a focus again on architects as leaders in our communities and nationally, Grassroots ’19 offered both opportunities to lead and insights on how to do so. On topics of climate change, transportation, and infrastructure we engaged mayors from across the country. Diversity, inclusiveness, and equity were explored with insights from industry experts and the personal stories of member practitioners. And finally, with our senators and congressmen we discussed school safety and climate change, with architects and the AIA as a key part of effective solutions.

Grassroots ’19 was crowned by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, presidential historian, and Keynote Doris Kearns Goodwin delivering Leadership: In Turbulent Times – and deliver she did! A highpoint and fitting culmination, Ms. Goodwin presented a nonstop succession of anecdotes and insights from who she considers the greatest leaders among US presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson – with the authentication and nuance of five decades documenting presidential history she distilled great leadership to perspectives and practices adoptable by all with a desire to grow and a mindset open to change.

“…some strengths are inborne, but far more important are ordinary talents developed to an extraordinary degree” – Doris Kearns Goodwin

And so Grassroots ’19 challenged us all to lead, with our ordinary talents delivering extraordinary outcomes.

Sean Reilly, AIA, Vice President of Government Advocacy, AIA Virginia

On a brisk, sunny day in early March, hundreds of architects from around the nation met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for issues that are important to society and our profession.   AIA Virginia representatives were among the 605 total AIA members that met with their Senators and Congressional Representatives on March 6th to advocate for two significant issues:  Energy Efficiency and School Safety.  Architects attended a total of 474 meetings in the House and Senate.  In small group settings, we briefed each lawmaker or their staff representative on the two issues before taking questions and asking for their support.

One of the AIA’s top federal priorities this Congress is to create new tax incentives to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings. There is a vast stock of existing buildings that were built to an earlier energy code, or in many cases, to no energy code at all.  Of all commercial buildings, 82% were built before 2000, prior to modern versions of energy codes that guide their design and construction.  Too many existing buildings are energy “guzzlers” instead of energy “sippers” as many new buildings are.  The good news is Congress is planning to make corrections to the Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) section of the federal tax code. Our “ask” to lawmakers is to include an amendment to the QIP section to include energy efficient technologies. This change would allow building owners and developers to write off a certain percentage of depreciation related to the costs of installing energy efficient systems and materials such as HVAC systems, building management systems, lighting, windows, exterior walls and roofing in existing buildings.

Another top federal priority of the AIA this Congress is to support a design-centered approach to address school violence.  After 9-11, all three levels of government worked together to make building design a key part of the process to address terrorist threats in public projects.  The AIA believes a similar approach should be taken to address school safety, which has become a necessary national conversation.  As Architects, we are the first to say that design cannot prevent school violence, but we are an important resource that can help make facilities safer through design.  However, school officials are often put into a position of making piece-meal decisions, purchasing and installing safety security systems from vendors.   Architects are uniquely qualified to listen, propose solutions and integrate safety measures into the design of schools.  In this design-centered approach, schools can be made safer while still embodying a welcoming, positive, user friendly environment and not end up looking like prisons.  To support school officials in making design-centered safety decisions, we recommended lawmakers take two important actions:  1.)  Authorize design services to be an eligible use of funding in any federal grants that support school security and 2.) Establish a federal clearinghouse of resources and best practices for school officials to access.   With a design-centered approach to school safety education officials will be in a better position to make informed decisions while maintaining a positive, healthy learning environment.

The lawmakers’ staff we met with were generally open and supportive of the AIA’s “asks” on both issues.   They were generous with their time and genuinely interested in the two issues.   AIA folders with contact information and policy briefs on both issues provided an informative leave behind for each meeting.   AIA’s Government Advocacy team will follow up and work with lawmakers to provide additional information, craft language and facilitate lawmakers’ ongoing support of the AIA position on these two important issues.

Architects are at their best when they lead and transform the creation of better-built environments everywhere.   Architecture is a relatively small profession that has the potential to bring tremendous value to people and their aspirations for a better, healthier life.  Architects are not guaranteed a critical role in society.  Advocacy allows us to strengthen our profession and remain relevant to the benefit of society and AIA members. The AIA gives us that voice. The Government Advocacy team at AIA Virginia continues to work hard to advance pro-built environment policies before government decision-makers and help ensure that architects remain relevant to society for generations to come.   Speaking with a unified voice on Capitol Hill Day 2019, Architects were able to advocate for two vital issues to society and demonstrate the value of our profession to Senators and Representatives from across our nation.

Grassroots 2018

AIA Grassroots was recently held in San Diego, California from March 12-14. The conference theme was “Leading through Influence” and it certainly lived up to the title. The clearest message to come out of Grassroots 2018 was that through engagement, we demonstrate the value of architects and architecture. Architects and allied professionals can advocate for and create meaningful transformation within our communities.

Region of The Virginias representatives at Grassroots 2018. (From left to right) Krystal Reid, AIA; Amanda Schlichting, AIA; R. Corey Clayborne, AIA; Scott Campbell, AIA; Brian Frickie, AIA; Rachel Shelton, AIA; Kelly Callahan, AIA; and Marci Parrish.















Bill Bates, FAIA, First Vice President and Grassroots Chair, noted a recent Harris Poll identified ‘architect’ as the 7th most prestigious profession in the country. He then asked: “What are we doing to leverage this influence? Influence is the new power.” Now more than ever an architect’s skills, systems-thinking, and visionary planning can make a positive impact on society and the world.

Highlights from Grassroots include:

  • We can find ways to shape communities to create healthier, resilient, and ultimately sustainable models of living. The new urban agenda will be a highlight of the AIA national conference in New York this June addressing issues of housing, energy, resiliency, infrastructure, planning, and policy.
  • Architects have a unique ability to think critically and creatively. This places architects in a unique position to tackle big societal questions as they relate to the built environment and the social condition of the people living within it.
  • Engagement is key. Public engagement will build public awareness through our actions, advocacy, and visibility.
  • Support our future architects through leadership development and by listening. Be inclusive in our actions and work to advance equity and diversity within our profession.
  • We were inspired to hear mayors and urban planners from cities across the U.S. advocating for architects to be at the table as a partner in shaping our cities and built environments.

Grassroots 2018 Panel on Licensure. Photos courtesy of AIA.


President’s Report To The Membership

Greetings Colleagues,

We are pleased to report on the activities of AIA Virginia for the first quarter of 2016. Truly, it has been a memorable quarter with excellent efforts on many fronts for the benefit of our members.

Nick Vlattas, AIA
Nick Vlattas, AIA
2016 President, AIA Virginia

We tipped off April in fine fashion with DESIGN FORUM XII held at the Slover Library in Norfolk designed by the partnership of Newman Architects and Tymoff + Moss Architects which provided an inspirational setting. It was a rainy weekend in Norfolk, but it did not dampen the spirits of the 160 in attendance and it kept us focused on our theme, TRANSFORMATION: The Turning Point, and the issues of sea level rise and resilient design.

Dr. Z Smith, AIA, Principal and Director of Sustainability and Building Performance at Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, winner of the 2014 AIA Firm Award served as our dynamic moderator, orchestrating DESIGN FORUM XII which included keynote presentations by Jason Long of OMA in New York, Anne Fougeron, FAIA, of Fougeron Architecture in San Francisco, Archie Lee Coates, IV, of PlayLab Inc. in New York, and Stephen Kieran, FAIA, of Kieran Timberlake in Philadelphia.

Jason Long presented many examples of connecting the virtual world to the actual world while Anne Fougeron, FAIA, made the connection of architect as artisan and activist. Archie Coates spoke from his heart on inspirations that change our lives, while Stephen Kieran, FAIA, in “Power of Tens” style, opened our eyes to sea level rise in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and challenged us on what we were going to do about it in our own practices.

In addition to the four keynotes, we were welcomed by Christine Morris, Chief Resiliency Officer of the City of Norfolk, who told us about the $120,000,000 resilience grant for Hampton Roads from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. We were also treated to four DESIGN FORUM TALK XII’s by Mel Price and Thom White of Work Program Architects in Norfolk on “Living at Sea Level”; Thomas Quattlebaum of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the new Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach on the building as an experiment in net zero sustainability; AIA Virginia’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2015 presentation on the “Porous City”; and Jackie Parks’ presentation on Parklets in Norfolk. It was wonderful to see the engagement of our Emerging Leaders in Architecture at DESIGN FORUM XII. I hope you will continue to encourage the participation of our Emerging Professionals in AIA programs at the local, state or national level for the future of our profession.

Thank you to the Design Committee chaired by Camilo Bearman, AIA who planned an outstanding event and our many sponsors who helped to make it possible. In addition, our AIA staff including Education Manager Marshall Dreiling, Special Projects Manager Rebecca Lonadier, Managing Director Rhea George, and Executive Vice President Helene Dreiling, FAIA, deserve special recognition for working tirelessly before and during the event to ensure the success of the Forum. It is also worthy to mention Jim Ritter, FAIA, Bob Steele, AIA, and Greg Hunt, FAIA, who inspired the creation of DESIGN FORUM I in 1994, at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, the tradition of which has continued as AIA Virginia’s premier biennial conference on architecture and design in the Commonwealth.

See photos from Design Forum XII.

Leadership from AIA Virginia and local components attended AIA Grassroots 2016 along with approximately 625 other leaders of the American Institute of Architects from around the country, February 23-25, in Detroit. This was truly an inspiring and motivational event to learn and collaborate with other AIA components and leaders.

AIA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Ivy, FAIA unveiled the next video in the #ilookup media campaign, “Look Up to America’s Future”, to air primarily during election coverage on major cable news networks to promote the value of architects to the public. More information on the campaign can be found at

A keynote panel which included architects, educators, and elected leaders who participated in the rebuilding of cities such as Detroit, Tampa, Birmingham, and Seattle was very informative on the impact architects can have on the quality of our cities when they are able to collaborate with civic leaders.

In his opening keynote, entrepreneur and author Josh Linkner shared the story of the decline and renaissance of Detroit and motivated us to rekindle our spirits. He gave us five big ideas to take home from Detroit which included: “get curious, crave what’s next, defy tradition, get scrappy, and adapt fast.” Josh challenged the audience: “I want you to recapture the reasons you got into this business in the first place: to rise to challenges, make an impact on your community, and build terrific organizations.”

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm delivered one of the most memorable keynotes which I have ever heard to close out the conference. She opened by outlining trends in politics, the work force, and smart buildings and made four predictions: (1) Forget the Feds, Congress isn’t working; (2) A new Federalism will come in which State and Local governments will drive policy and education will race to the top; (3) Policy will be focused on jobs and the economy; (4) Political consensus will revolve around funding for infrastructure. During a brief interlude, the Governor shared the Super Bowl Commercial from 2012, “Halftime in America”, about the downturn and the comeback in Detroit. She then shared the tragic story of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which led to her call for “Help Wanted! What can architects do to lead the way in encouraging, in rising from the ashes, and in rebuilding the hardest hit?”

The General Assembly began its 60-day legislative session on the second Wednesday of January. Thank you to our Government Advocacy Advisory Council led by Tim Colley, AIA, and staff liaison and Managing Director Rhea George for monitoring bills and working with our lobbyists on bills of interest to our members. A detailed report on the session is included in this newsletter.

It was clear at AIA GRASSROOTS in Detroit and DESIGN FORUM XII in Norfolk, that architects make a difference in our community. We need to continue to up our game to bring the perspectives of architects to the decision makers in our community. In this election year, it is even more important. Our policy makers and politicians are stewards of our built infrastructure, but most of them are not expects in design and planning. They need your advice. I am begging you to get involved: volunteer for a campaign, speak with your legislators, serve your community on a board or council, and please reach in your pockets and contribute to the AIA Virginia Political Action Committee. PAC money doesn’t buy influence, but it does help us gain access to legislators, so we can educate them on issues that are important to us and important to our communities. We don’t get resilient, sustainable, healthy cities without a strong advocacy program and strong advocates like the architects in Virginia. We have over two thousand members in AIA Virginia. Please consider giving to AIA Virginia PAC (, even if it is a small amount, many voices will help us be heard by our legislators.

In the months ahead we look forward to continued advancement on our Strategic Plan and the principles of the Virginia Accord which include commitments to job creation and a growing and thriving economy, to constructing environmentally sustainable buildings, to public health, to systems of mass transit, and to responsible land development and urban infill. We also are planning the convening of the next meeting of the Large Firm Roundtable, visitation by AIA Virginia leadership of several of our member firms, and an informative virtual membership meeting. There is still time to register for AIA Convention 2016 May 19-21, in Philadelphia.

AIA Virginia continues to work hard to bring significant value to our members, provide programs and services which are relevant to our fast-changing profession and to celebrate the prosperity of our members. Our mission is to be the voice of the architecture profession in the Commonwealth, dedicated to serving our members and through a culture of innovation, AIA Virginia empowers its members, advances their value, and inspires the creation of a better-built environment.

Congratulations to Ann Kosmal, FAIA, a member of AIA Northern Virginia, and David Oakland, FAIA, a member of AIA Central Virginia for being elevated to fellowship.

Thank you for being a member of AIA Virginia! It is an honor to serve the architects of Virginia.

Nick Vlattas AIA
AIA Virginia President 2016

AIA Grassroots 2016 Wrap-Up

At the end of February, sixteen of your local AIA leaders from Virginia came together in Detroit with nearly 600 of their peers for AIA Grassroots 2016. This was the first time in several decades that this event has taken place outside of Washington, D.C.

Bookended by some pretty powerful keynote speakers, the 3-day conference featured workshops on the topics of advocacy, outreach, governance, public relations, strategic planning, inclusion, and public speaking (to name a few) — all with the aim of sharpening and enhancing the leadership skills of those in attendance. In between these sessions, there were numerous opportunities for conversation and collegiality.

The event kicked off with remarks by Josh Linkner, who spoke about invention and innovation. He challenged those in the room to:

  • Get curious;
  • Crave what’s next;
  • Defy tradition;
  • Get scrappy; and
  • Adapt fast.

AIA CEO Robert Ivy gave update on the AIA’s public relations campaign and premiered next installment in the #ilookup series.

This spot is running on national TV (some of you may have seen it during Super Tuesday coverage on CNN). It asks everyone to imagine what America could look like when you partner with an architect to co-create its future.

The event closed with remarks from Jennifer Granholm who delivered an inspirational message to architects: you will be leading and creating a better future for our country. And you know what … She’s right.


Grassroots Roundup

Paula J. Loomis, FAIA, R. Corey Clayborne, AIA, and Rhea George brave the D.C. weather at Grassroots last week
Paula J. Loomis, FAIA, R. Corey Clayborne, AIA, and Rhea George brave the D.C. weather at Grassroots last week

Spirits weren’t dampened by a winter snowstorm as Virginia’s leaders joined component leaders and executives from across the country for inspirational sessions, the exchange of ideas, and fellowship at the 2015 AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference on March 4–6.

Despite the cancellation of the legislative session and closure of government offices, Virginia members still managed to meet with 5 of the Commonwealth’s legislators or aides.

The national advocacy agenda includes:

  • the preservation of Historic Tax Credits which have been a vital resource for development and preservation in Virginia;
  • the National Design Services Act which would help architecture-school graduates reduce student debt through community service;
  • the Safe Building Code Act, which would increase FEMA’s disaster assistance funding in Virginia by 4%.

We’ll work to schedule visits in the home districts of the remaining members of Congress. If you’re interested in participating in these meetings, please contact Rhea George at (804) 237-1768 or