Awards for Distinguished Achievement Announced for 2019

Michael Ermann, AIA, David Keith, AIA, and Kevin Sneed, FAIA, will be recognized with the Award for Distinguished Achievement at the Visions for Architecture gala on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, at the Hilton Downtown Richmond. The Award for Distinguished Achievement signals especially noteworthy achievement by an architect in any one of the following categories: design, practice, education, service as “citizen architect,” and service to the profession. This award may serve as an accolade for the work of an entire career or recognize the current accomplishments of a younger leader.

“I am pleased to have been a colleague of his, and continue to be impressed with his selfless approach to the education of professionals, young and old.”

Jack Davis, FAIA
Michael Ermann, AIA

Since 2001, Michael Ermann, AIA, has made significant contributions to the profession as an educator and researcher. During his time as a professor at Virginia Tech, he has taught design studio, building systems, architectural acoustics, materials and methods, architectural structures, and even a walking tour class for non-majors titled “Design at Every Scale.” For this work, he has been recognized with numerous teaching awards, including the university-wide Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week award and the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design Lecture or Seminar Teaching Excellence Award, twice. He has received perfect student evaluations in six different courses.

In addition to his more than 18 years teaching at Virginia Tech, he launched an ARE prep program that has benefited thousands of practitioners around the country. His Amber Book and video series, have transformed the understanding of critical information on life safety, site design, construction, structures and mechanical and electrical systems aiding countless professionals along the path to licensure. He has also conducted vital architectural acoustics research which was published in Architectural Acoustics Illustrated (Wiley, 2015), and recognized with the AIA Virginia Prize for Design Research and Scholarship.

He has further been recognized as an accomplished designer, winning several design awards from AIA Blue Ridge.

“David has a visceral enthusiasm for every step of the design process. People want to work with him, work for him … Throughout his career, he has raised the bar for what qualifies as ‘good design’ all across Virginia.”

–Eric Keplinger, AIA
David Keith, AIA

David Keith, AIA, is a design principal and the Chief Executive Officer of Hanbury. Throughout his 30 year career, he has left a tangible impact on some of Virginia’s most well-known architecture firms as well as cities and institutions across the state. Recognized for his unwavering commitment to design excellence, he has worked on more than 250 projects, amassing an impressive number of Design Awards.

In addition to his service as Vice President on AIA Virginia’s Board of Directors and the Editorial Advisory Board for Inform Magazine, he has also served on the Hampton Roads Design Build Institute of America and the Virginia Beach Planning and Design Review boards.

A leader who is deeply committed to education and mentorship, he has delivered dozens of lectures and talks and has contributed numerous articles to nationally-recognized publications. Deeply engaged in Hanbury’s Summer Scholars program, he has helped to identify research areas that frequently reveal opportunities in communities that could profoundly impact their shape, vibrancy and economy.

Kevin G. Sneed, FAIA, is an architect passionate about the profession who, early in his career, engaged in
groundbreaking activities that have become mainstream initiatives for guiding the future of the profession.

John Burns, FAIA
Kevin Sneed, FAIA

OTJ’s Kevin Sneed, FAIA, has approached his career with a clear dedication to public and professional service.

Since joining the AIA in 1987, right out of school, he has been an enthusiastic advocate and engaged participant. In addition to serving as secretary, treasurer, and president, he also co-founded AIA Northern Virginia’s Young Architects Committee, setting a precedent for organizing activities to nurture emerging architects that now thrives in components throughout the Commonwealth — and across the country. He later served on AIA Virginia’s board and at the national level on the Young Architects Forum, Diversity Committee, Brand Advisory Committee, and the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community. In 2004, he was recognized with the National AIA Young Architect Award for his substantial contributions to the profession.

He used his role as a leader in the AIA to forge connections within the industry. He strengthened ties between the AIA and the National Organization of Minority Architects and leveraged his chairmanship of the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community to improve collaboration with interior design organizations, the Construction Specifications Institute, and the U.S. Green Building Council.

He has also been a model for community service.  Canstruction, Habitat for Humanity, the Board of Architectural Review for the City of Alexandria, the Maryland State Board of Interior Designers, and the Maryland State Board of Architects have all benefited from Kevin’s generous donation of his time and expertise.

Meet Kevin Sneed, FAIA

Where did you go to college?

I received my Bachelor of Architecture degree from The University of Texas in Arlington and Yes, I am a Texan and wear cowboy boots on occasion!

Kevin Sneed, FAIA

Would you recommend studying architecture to a young person?

Yes, there has been an increase in the interest in Architecture because of the relationship of the Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Math but let’s not forget the “Arts.” Also, there are a few Schools of Architecture and AIA chapters that are forming architecture camps to provide this inspiration to young adults in becoming Architects. Architecture has been one of the most critical points in shaping my life.

Now, with the advent of STEM programs and legislation in the US House of Representatives to officially consider architecture a part of STEM education young people will have additional support and many different programs available to them.

What does it take to be an architect?

To be an Architect, you must have patience and a genuine love of the art, design, and science.

In addition, a talent that one is often lacking in our profession is an in-depth understanding of the “business” side of architecture. Possessing the relevant knowledge of and skill in finance, negotiation, and strategic planning are critical keys to a successful practice.

And the aptitude to successfully both offer and accept criticism is an oft-overlooked skill, in architecture as in so many other fields. When offering criticism, take care to frame your thoughts in a way that will be respectful of, and constructive to, your colleague. In taking criticism, listen carefully to any concerns, and do not take them as a personal attack. Criticism may not be comfortable, but it is necessary for our profession at every level.

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?

In college, one of my professors introduced me to O.M. Ungers who, at that time, was considered a minimalist architect. After college, I was inspired by the work of California Architect Paul R. Williams not only for his style of architecture but for his professional and personal life experiences during his extensive career. It was great to see Paul Williams receive the AIA’s Gold medal which was awarded posthumously in 2017 for his significant body of work and his influence he had in the architecture industry.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books. One, Malcolm Gladwell’s “David & Goliath” and two, “The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship” by Harold Zellman and Roger Friedland. I love reading books about Frank Lloyd Wright!

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

The Steak Au Poivre at the Le Diplomate in Washington, DC along with my favorite bourbon cocktail there called the “Clouseau.” It reminds me of my honeymoon with my wife in Paris.  

Why do you volunteer with the AIA?

My grandmother taught me to always give back to the community that you should My grandmother taught me to always give back to the community where you live and to serve in the organization you believe in. I have a love for architecture and helping in this organization gives me the pleasure of giving back and making a difference. Since 1987, the AIA Northern Virginia chapter has provided me with that springboard and platform on which my participation is based such as from the Young Architects Forum, the Virginia AIA Board, providing my expertise on the City of Alexandria’s Parker-Gray Historic District Board of Architectural Review and on to the AIA College of Fellows today. The AIA’s “Citizen Architect” is a reflection of these qualities. And the use of one’s insights, talents and experiences to give back to the community should be a necessity for all architects in the industry.