Bulova and VCU Office of Planning and Design Recognized with AIA Virginia Honors

Delegate David Bulova and the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Office of Planning and Design were recognized with AIA Virginia Honors in 2020. AIA Virginia Honors may be bestowed on non-member individuals or organizations that have inspired, influenced, or complemented the architecture profession in Virginia through practice of an allied profession, research, education, planning, legislation, architectural writing, the arts, or crafts.

AIA Virginia Honoree, the Honorable David Bulova, is a delegate from Virginia’s 37th House District, representing the City of Fairfax and parts of Fairfax County. Bulova’s achievements in the areas of smart growth, equity, and alternative energy have garnered praise from many quarters, and his reputation as a results-driven legislator is matched by his knowledge of architecture’s practice and regulation. His appreciation for the role architecture and planning play in shaping livable places without compromising environmental health has been made abundantly clear by his legislative achievements in the areas of transportation, education, affordable housing, energy, and the environment. As an acclaimed member of the allied field of environmental planning, and as a respected member of the Virginia House of Delegates for fifteen years, Delegate Bulova has championed legislation that furthers the goals of AIA Virginia’s Strategic Plan and Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements. Those achievements include House Bill 1471 giving Fairfax additional authority to negotiate with developers to provide affordable housing, House Bill 1913, authorizing localities to require sidewalks during development to promote walking, biking, and public transit, and House Bill 1158, requiring the review of a state water supply plan by the State Water Control Board when making permitting decisions. Delegate Bulova’s personal, professional, and legislative endeavors attest to his commitment to equity and sustainability in both the built and natural environments; a commitment that we share as architects.

AIA Virginia Honoree, the VCU Office of Planning and Design, led for the last 27 years by Mary P. Cox, FAIA, has transformed the City of Richmond’s largest campus from a commuter school into a rich and vibrant collegiate community. VCU has taken its place among its peers with robust enrollment numbers and by investing more than $1.5 billion in new construction, renovations, and additions in the 27 years of the Office of Planning and Design’s existence. Acting as the design conscience of VCU, the Office of Planning and Design has effectively collaborated with architects over the years and challenged them to consider Richmond’s urban fabric, the university’s needs, and the health and wellness of its students, faculty, staff, and neighbors.

The office, itself, is known as an environment of mutual trust and respect in its support of staff and the creative process of design, as well as an effective public advocate of architectural literacy. The Office of Planning and Design has long partnered with organizations to engage the architecture profession, the larger design community, and the public’s trust, including AIA Virginia, the Association of University Architects, the Society for College and University Planning, and the Children’s Museum of Richmond, among others.

At the helm, Noland Medal recipient Mary Cox has defined, defended, reinvigorated, and advanced the Office of Planning and Design, which, in turn, has advanced VCU’s standing within higher education. As part of her tenure, no fewer than five master plans have been adopted by the university, and dozens of new academic, medical, athletic, and research facilities have been designed and constructed. Her retirement in July of 2020 signals the end of an era for the Office of Planning and Design, but her vision and steadfast commitment over the years has created an ample foundation for VCU’s next chapter at a time when concepts like physicality, health, and community will need to evolve at campuses everywhere.

The Awards will be presented at Visions for Architecture on Thursday, Oct. 8 in an online awards ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. The program is free but registration is required.

Mary Cox Honored with Noland Medal

Mary Patton Cox, FAIA
Mary Patton Cox, FAIA

Mary Patton Cox, FAIA, has been selected to receive the Society’s highest honor bestowed upon an architect: the William C. Noland Medal. The award recognizes a lifetime of achievement for an individual architect, and 2011 marks the first time a woman is being recognized with the award. Cox will be celebrated during Architecture Exchange East at the Annual Meeting of the Membership on Thursday, Nov. 3, and the Medal will be presented at the Visions for Architecture gala on Friday, Nov. 4, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Cox’s 30-year career in architecture has been marked by notable accomplishments. “Mary Cox’s contribution to architectural practice has transcended the best the profession has to offer,” says one collaborator. “She has effectively extended the reach of thoughtful and responsive architecture to a very large community, both in terms of the substantial number and wide range of projects for which she has been responsible, and for her passionate and effective advocacy of architecture to a very large audience, including those who sponsor and use important public places.”

As University Architect, for the past 15 years Cox has led physical growth at Virginia Commonwealth University, overseeing more than 150 projects valued over $1 billion. A section of the city once described as “derelict and forlorn” has become a vibrant and cohesive urban campus with a distinctive sense of place. “VCU’s two campuses have been transformed under Mary’s sensitive and capable guidance,” said Grace E. Harris, Ph.D. “The University’s constellation of eclectic buildings has been knitted together to form true college campuses,” she continued.  Through her leadership, VCU has embraced the historic architectural character of its urban campus as well. “Words are inadequate to articulate all that Mary has done regarding preservation in an urban environment,” says Mary Jane Hogue, Executive Director of the Historic Richmond Foundation.  “Mary has strengthened our community,” she continued.

Cox has also worked diligently to support her colleagues in architecture. As the current Director of the Region of the Virginias on the National AIA Board, she serves on the AIA National Advocacy Outreach Committee and is identifying opportunities for architects to partner with mayors through the Mayors’ Institute for City Design.  She collaborated on a position paper outlining challenges and opportunities for architects to partner with their mayors as a way to advance excellence in city design and to carve out a role for architects in the policy-making arena. In addition to serving on the Government and Industry Affairs and Honors Committees, she has also served as the Society’s Intern Development Coordinator, Vice President for Government and Industry Affairs, Vice President for Advocacy, and President. In her role as a University Architect, she founded and chaired the Professional Practices Task Force for the Association of University Architects, which was later made a standing committee to provide information on best practices.

In the public arena, she has advocated for architects to ease the burden of state regulations and to advance the quality of the architectural practice environment in Virginia.  On multiple occasions, she successfully worked to defend the Virginia Public Procurement Act preserving qualifications-based selection. She improved the state’s review processes by meeting face to face with state agency representatives, and continues to work with the Division of Engineering and Building to make reviews more efficient and effective. “Her insights … allowed for the crafting of an approach that should not only smooth the process but also decrease costs,” said Director of the Department of General Services Rich Sliwoski, P.E., Hon. VSAIA.

For her sustained leadership, commitment to good design, and unwavering support of the profession, the Society awards Mary Patton Cox, FAIA, with the William C. Noland Medal.

Honorary Membership Conferred on Braymer, Ohlinger

Meta R. Braymer, Ph.D., and Brian J. Ohlinger, P.E., will be recognized with Honorary Membership in the Virginia Society AIA at this year’s Visions for Architecture gala on Nov. 4, 2011 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Honorary Membership may be bestowed upon individuals not eligible for membership in the Society, but who have rendered distinguished and exemplary service, over a sustained period of time, to architecture and the built environment in Virginia.

Meta R. Braymer, Ph.D.
Meta R. Braymer, Ph.D.

For more than 25 years, Meta Braymer has exhibited a sincere and abiding commitment to the ideals of the profession of architecture. As Vice President for Economic Development and Regional Engagement with the University of Mary Washington, she oversees the Center for Economic Development and its affiliation with the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance — organizations that share parallel tenets with the profession. She and her husband John, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Society, are among the top private financial supporters of the Virginia Center for Architecture. From philanthropy supporting the formation of the Virginia Center for Architecture, to ongoing advocacy on behalf of architects and the built environment, she has shown an understanding and appreciation of the profession. “Meta has been an ambassador for architecture beyond any others that I know,” exclaimed one Honors Committee member.

Brian J. Ohlinger, P.E.
Brian J. Ohlinger, P.E.

Since assuming responsibility for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Facilities Management Department in 1997, Brian Ohlinger has been responsible for a 325-member Facilities Management team with an annual operating budget of $40 million. Under his close direction, VCU has led the state in delivering nearly $2 billion in new construction, leveraging cutting-edge technologies including Construction Manager at Risk and Building Information Modeling. He also served the Commonwealth of Virginia through two gubernatorial appointments to the State Art and Architectural Review Board, and was elected Board Chair in his second term. During his terms with the AARB, he exhibited unyielding dedication to the highest design standards. “The magnitude of the work he’s been involved with is astounding,” said one Committee member. “His work at VCU coupled with his work in the AARB, has unquestionably elevated the level of good design in Virginia,” he continued.