Kevin Sneed is a Partner and Senior Director of Architecture of OTJ Architects in Washington, DC where he leads the office quality assurance/quality control program, which sets the standards of his office construction document and construction administration process. Kevin is also a frequent participant in the marketing and business development for his firm.
As a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, Kevin received his bachelor’s degree in Architecture. He has over 30 years of experience in architecture, interior architecture, and the construction industry. He has earned his LEED AP(BD+C) as well as the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) Construction Documents Technologist certification.
In 2019, Kevin was the recipient of the AIA Virginia’s award for Distinguished Achievement for his noteworthy accomplishments. In 2017, Kevin was elevated to Fellow by the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for his contributions to the Institute, which placed him as the third African-American to be elevated in the AIA Virginia Chapter. Active in the AIA Northern Virginia and AIA Virginia since 1987, Kevin co-founded one of the earliest AIA groups focusing on young architects. Since then, he has served as President of AIA Northern Virginia and on the board of AIA Virginia for multiple terms. He is the recipient of the 2004 AIA National Young Architects Award, and his work has received awards from AIA, IIDA, and NOMA. In 2004, Kevin was the chair of the AIA National Diversity Committee and in 2006, he chaired the AIA National Interior Architecture Knowledge.
Kevin was a contributor to “Becoming an Architect – A Guide to Careers in Design,” a book which aimed to delineate pathways for potential architecture students, interns and young architects on their way to becoming established professionals.
Kevin is the epitome of the AIA’s Citizen Architect; to also serve the community-at-large, he provided his expertise on the City of Alexandria’s Board of Architectural Review Parker-Gray District and currently serves on NCARB’s Region 2 Mid-Atlantic Region Member Board as well as a committee member for NCARB’s Professional Conduct Committee, where he oversees the application, and adjudication of Council policies and practices relating to the professional conduct of record holders.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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 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.