Ten Buildings that Changed Black History in Virginia

Buildings shape our lives and reveal our history. The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. In close collaboration with the Virginia Center for Architecture, the two organizations are embarking on a public outreach program called Virginia Celebrates Architecture.  One element of this program is to introduce new conversations about the built world and the part it played in shaping Virginia’s history.

In recognition of Black History Month in Virginia, the Virginia Society AIA and the Virginia Center for Architecture have assembled 10 structures that changed history in the Commonwealth.

1. Robert Russa Moton High School — A student-led strike at this Virginia school played a significant role in ending segregated “separate but equal” schools throughout the nation.

2. Fort Monroe — In 1861,the commander at this Hampton fortification announced that his troops would not enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Slaves who fled to the fort would be treated as “contraband of war” and not be returned. By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, it is estimated that more than 10,000 enslaved African Americans sought refuge at Fort Monroe. [adrotate banner=”53″]

3. Harrison School — Now the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, the Harrison School was the first public high school for African-American students in Southwest Virginia.

4. Gum Springs — West Ford, a former slave, founded Gum Springs after being freed by George Washington. The oldest African-American community in Fairfax County, Gum Springs became a sanctuary for freedmen and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

5. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank — Conceived of by Maggie L. Walker, St. Luke’s provided a courteous, safe place for African Americans to conduct financial business during a time when Jim Crow laws and oppressive conditions made banking difficult for many blacks.

6. Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library — On August 21, 1939 — more than two decades before the famous sit-in movement — five young African Americans staged what is thought to be the first planned sit-in at the public library in Alexandria, Virginia.

7. Jackson Ward — After the American Civil War, previously free blacks joined freed slaves and their descendants and created this thriving African-American business community, which became known as both the “Black Wall Street of America,” and “The Harlem of the South.”

8. Attucks Theatre — Built in 1919, the Attucks Theatre was designed, developed, financed, and operated entirely by African Americans. Once known as the “Apollo of the South,” the theatre is named in honor of Crispus Attucks, the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War in the 1770 Boston Massacre.

9. Manassas Industrial School —The school was founded largely through the efforts of former slave Jennie Dean who, after years of fundraising, chartered the school on October 7, 1893. The school taught both academic subjects and skilled trades to young African Americans.

10. Longdale Recreation Area/Green Pastures Recreation Area — At the urging of the Clifton Forge Chapter of the NAACP, the Forest Service constructed this recreation area to be used by African Americans in the area. It was built by a local Civilian Conservation Corps company from 1938 to 1940 for the African American community in response to the construction of the whites-only Douthat State Park.

About the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects
The Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects is a professional association representing nearly 2,500 members. Since 1914, the Virginia AIA has represented the professional interests of architects and allied professionals in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information, contact the Virginia Society at (804) 644-3041 or visit www.aiava.org.

About the Virginia Center for Architecture
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 www.architectureva.org.

About Virginia Celebrates Architecture
Virginia Celebrates Architecture is a year-long public outreach program marking the 100th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects in Virginia. It is intended to develop a broader understanding of architecture and design by beginning new conversations about buildings and the impact they have on our lives. Learn more at www.vacelebrates.org.

September 2013 Building Code Update

© 2006, The American Institute of Architects. All rights reserved.”
© 2006, The American Institute of Architects. All rights reserved.

If you thought the building code is continually changing, you would be right.  Every three years, the International Code Council publishes an updated family of model codes.  Every three years, Virginia spends about 18 months reviewing it.

The reviews and approval of the alterations, deletions, and additions are still under way.  The latest date for implementation of the new Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code still looks like the fall of 2014.  And then, traditionally, Virginia allows a one-year grace period for projects already in design to continue under the old code.

Prior to implementation, however, several hurdles still need to be cleared.  These include publication, public hearings, approvals by the Housing and Community Development Board, the attorney general, the secretary of commerce and trade, the governor’s office, the codes commission and then a final publication.

Anyone considering taking advantage of the grace period should confer with the local building official first.  By the same token, those who wish to incorporate portions the future code also should confer with the local building official for a variance.

The latest information can be found at the DHCD website:  http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/index.php/va-building-codes/building-and-fire-codes/code-change-process.html.

May Proclaimed Building Safety Month

Building Safety Month Proclamation – William Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (far left), Emory Rodgers, director of the division of building regulation in DHCD (far right), and James Snowa AIA (fourth from right).

Safety underpins the entire philosophy of government’s rationale for licensure in the construction industry.  As a consequence, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell proclaimed May as Building Safety Month in Virginia.

The proclamation recognizes the efforts of licensed professionals who design the buildings, constructors who put the buildings together, and code officials who oversee the construction according to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.

VSAIA members continue to review the new model codes developed on a three-year cycle by the International Code Council.  For 12 to 18 months, these members along with many other representatives from other organizations, review, amend, and refine the model codes to incorporate Virginia’s heritage of code experience.

This effort is led by Kenney Payne, AIA, from Moseley Architects’ Richmond office.  He works primarily with the building and fire codes.  James Snowa, AIA, and Megan Shope, AIA, both from the Richmond firm Winks-Snowa Architects, review the residential code.  Those wishing to join this effort may contact Duncan Abernathy, AIA, at daber@aiava.org.

The 2012 code with Virginia amendments should be opened for public hearings shortly.  The anticipated implementation date is the fall of 2014.

Architects Sought for Code Advisory Committee

Everybody, so the saying goes, complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.  The same cannot be said about the building code.  Architects can do something about it …  including how current and future building-code officials interpret it.

For many years John McGrann, AIA, helped fashion this perspective through his tenure on the Building Code Academy Advisory Committee.  But he left that position in 2008.  Another architect is needed for the position.

To obtain first-hand knowledge of what is entailed in the position, contact McGrann in Richmond at (804) 343-1010 or  jmcgrann@baskervill.com.

The committee meets in person at least annually and attempts to meet quarterly.  Depending upon the situation, the committee can meet via conference call or email.  The committee advises the Board and director of the Department of Housing and Community Development “on policies, procedures, operations, and other matters pertinent to enhancing the delivery of training services provided by the Building Code Academy.”

The Virginia Society AIA may nominate architects for one slot on the 17-person committee.  If you are interested in this position, please get in touch with Duncan Abernathy, AIA, (daber@aiava.org) after conferring with McGrann.

Legislative Update: Jan. 30, 2012

All but one of the bills seeking to protect Virginians’ jobs from outside sources were voted down in committee Thursday night, Jan. 25.  But the bills concerning eminent domain still remain.The VSAIA and representatives of several other business organizations have scheduled a tentative meeting with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for Monday morning.  Our complaint with the constitutional amendment and those bills seeking to modify the amendment is the uncertainty that they engender.Virginia’s eminent domain law worked well for many years.  And in reaction to the 2005 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London, Virginia legislators in 2007 revised existing law.  This law appeared to respond to the inequities revealed in Kelo.  But in the 2011 session, legislators believed a constitutional amendment was necessary.

The amendment, which must pass two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and be approved by the voters, and the 2012 pending legislation make it impossible to advise architects’ clients on the probable cost and time requirement for their potential projects.  Or even to suggest that one site might be better than two or three others being considered.  The members of the Joint Legislative Committee (JLC) – representing of the VSAIA, the Virginia Association of Professional Engineers, and the American Council of Engineering Companies/Virginia – believe these legislative measures go too far.  Some of this year’s legislation inserts provisions that would compensate land owners for “lost access and lost profits.”  These and other provisions make the construction projects less certain and more expensive, the JLC members believe.

The protectionism bills did not attempt to adjust the existing language that allows Virginia state agencies and localities to mimic the procedures adopted by neighboring states.  For example, protectionist language that exists in North Carolina law will be used against North Carolina vendors who wish to conduct business in Virginia.

The JLC also opposes a bill to require localities to use the e-Virginia (eVA) site to advertise their upcoming projects.  Currently, localities must advertise in a “newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the contract is to be performed.”  Architects on the JLC complained about eVA’s performance and the quality of projects generated.

Within the myriad bills and interests represented in those bills lie a few measures that the VSAIA will support.  The VSAIA will support the high-performance buildings bills introduced by Del. Chris Jones and Sen. Chapman Petersen (HB 1167  and SB 160) and three bills that support procedures already being conducted by the Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects (HB 390HB 937, and HB 938).

Architects representing the VSAIA on the JLC committee are David Puckett, AIA, and William Evans, AIA.  The committee meets weekly during the session to work with our legislative counsel Reggie Jones and Patrick Cushing, both of Williams Mullen.

Oppose:  Bills would amend constitutional amendment concerning eminent domain

HB 5, HB 597, HB 1145, HJ 3, SB 240, SJ 3, SJ 67, and SJ 117


Committees reviewing these bills killed most of them January 25
HB 449, HB 529, HB 530, SB 377, SB 525SB 526, SB 572, SB 589, SB 601


Amend:  Bill would provide tax incentives for large firms hiring SWAM businesses. JLC would delete a provision to narrow the “small” definition to those only in underutilized business zones.

HB 228


Oppose:  Quality of e-Virginia’s product for architects does not match that found in print media.

HB 1193



Support:  Would require General Assembly to receive study from DPOR prior to considering regulating any profession.   Would expedite licenses for qualified spouses of military personnel (APELSCIDLA does this for all applicants already).  Would accept qualified military experience in consideration of licensure by comity (APELSCIDLA does this for all applicants already).

HB 390, HB 937, and HB 938



Support:  Would establish specific energy criteria continually updated by Department of General Services and based upon LEED, Green Globes, and other standards.

HB 1167 and SB 160


Support:  Would require the Virginia Department of General Services to audit all state-owned buildings 50,000 s.f. or larger to determine their energy footprint and to update that analysis annually.

SB 621


Virginia LID Design Competition

Low impact development (LID) focuses on maintaining or restoring a site’s natural hydrology. Retaining and filtering storm water on-site rather than conveying it to storm sewers recharges groundwater, reduces the scouring of stream banks, and helps keep watersheds clean and healthy. This two-stage open competition—sponsored by the James River Association, Friends of the Rappahannock, Potomac Conservancy, and Virginia Chapter of the American Society for Civil Engineers—focuses on three actual sites in Virginia.

Competition entries must come from integrated teams of at least three design professionals licensed in Virginia and must include at least one civil engineer and one landscape architect. The registration fee is $100, and the stage-one submission deadline is February 17, 2012. Teams may register online.

Stage one will be scored by a five-person jury comprising:
• Civil Engineering: Don Rissmeyer, PE
• Landscape Architecture: Kennon Williams, ASLA
• Low Impact Development: Thomas Schueler
• Architecture: Patrick Farley, AIA, LEED-AP
• Hydrology: (Judge Pending)

Finalists will be announced March 4 at the Virginia Lakes & Watershed Association Conference.

In stage two of the competition, finalists will present their entries verbally and through PowerPoint to a jury of influential Virginians from the development, civic, and government communities. Those presentations will be April 12 in Lexington, Va., at the 23rd Annual Environment Virginia Symposium. The jury will select winners that same day in each of three categories. The award for each category is $15,000.

The three categories (and site locations) are:
1) Suburban Mixed Use (Fredericksburg area)
2) Urban Redevelopment (Fredericksburg)
3) Green Roadway (Arlington)

Submissions will be judged on how well they conserve natural resources, provide natural functions to control and filter storm water, and use small-scale decentralized landscape features to:
• Reduce the amount of runoff by mimicking the natural hydrologic function of the site and matching pre-development hydrology
• Minimize the use of and/or reduce the size of pipe and other centralized control and treatment infrastructure
• Lower the total cost of development when compared to traditional infrastructure design
• Minimize and disconnect impervious surfaces, lengthen time of concentration, and promote bio-filtration of runoff to improve the quality of storm water leaving the site
• Minimize or eliminate the use of potable water resources needed for irrigation and, where practical, provide for the reuse of rain water
• Use enhanced quality of life values and reduced maintenance costs inherent in LID practices to increase marketability of the development and longterm property values.

For more information on the sites and competition rules, visit the Virginia LID Competition site.

For specific questions, contact Adrienne Kotula by email or phone, 804-788-8811 x206.

DHCD Grant Opportunity: Industrial Revitalization Fund

Governor McDonnell recently announced a $3 million program to revitalize derelict commercial and industrial structures by providing local governments with grants to spark strategic private investment.

The Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) will provide grants of up to $600,000, primarily in distressed communities, for construction projects aligned with local and regional economic development strategies.

Towns, counties or cities can apply for the funding, which is intended for publicly-held properties, or for loans from local governments to private property owners. Each IRF grant will require a 1-1 match from public or private funds. Eligible properties include any large-scale, non-residential structure.

 Applications for the Industrial Revitalization Fund will be reviewed beginning Friday, Sept. 9. Review will continue through December 31, 2011 or until funds are exhausted, whichever is sooner.  How-to-apply workshops listed below will offer a review of the program design, the application packet and additional information. 

Through the IRF and other revitalization programs, DHCD provides resources for catalytic community investments. Examples of viable strategies previously funded through DHCD programs include the following projects:

  • The conversion of a historic hotel in the City of Norton into a business incubator
  • The transformation of an empty big box store into The Crossroads Institute through a collaborative effort by Grayson and Carroll counties and the City of Galax

How to Apply Workshops 
The workshops listed below will offer a review of the program design, the application packet and additional information.  

Please register online  by Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Monday, Aug. 8, 1 p.m.
Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center, Music Room
620 Simms Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802

Tuesday, Aug. 9,  10 a.m. 
Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Room 240
One Partnership Circle,  Abingdon, VA 24210

Wednesday, Aug. 10,  9 a.m. 
Point of Honor, Carriage House Meeting Room
112 Cabell Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 3 p.m. 
Southside Virginia Education Center
1300 Greensville County Circle, Emporia, VA 23847

Thursday, Aug. 11,  10 a.m. 
Remote access. Login information will be distributed to registrants prior to the workshop.

Your Political Action Committee

A rousing start to the election season was generated by contributions and pledges to the VSAIA political action committee campaign by long-time supporter Gauthier Alvarado & Associates in Falls Church and relative PAC newcomer HDR in Alexandria.

Rob Morris, III, AIA, PE, presented his firm’s traditional $1,000 check to the PAC in December.  Jim Draheim, AIA, announced his firm’s pledge of $2,000 in March.  Both have combined their firms’ support with personal efforts to increase the level of participation in the PAC.  They are sending letters to their peers in several firms encouraging them to join in supporting the PAC and asking that they also encourage their employees to do the same.

Ed Gillikin, AIA, VSAIA vice president for government advocacy, and the members of the government and industry affairs committee ask that individuals contribute the equivalent of one hour’s billable time to the PAC.  They request that firms contribute a like amount. 

With all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly open this year, the campaign goal will be to top the PAC’s previous best year of $23,630 contributed in 2006. 

The PAC supports the campaigns of those candidates who have shown an understanding of what the profession does and of how architects affect the quality of life within their communities.  If a candidate is running for the first time, the VSAIA considers its members’ evaluations.  For incumbents, the VSAIA concentrates its support on those who serve in leadership positions and those who serve on the General Laws committees in the House and Senate.  This committee reviews nearly 90 percent of the bills affecting the profession.

A candidate’s party affiliation is not considered.  Historically, the VSAIA PAC’s contributions run just about 50-50 on supporting Democrats and Republicans.  Information on past activity can be obtained from the Virginia Public Access Project website http://www.vpap.org/committees/profile/home/600.  VAPA’s home site is www.VPAP.org

It takes time to build rapport and trust between the architects and elected officials.  This is done through individual meetings among the VSAIA legislative counsel, staff and members, and the legislators. Those in office depend on us for information about the possible impact of a bill.  We depend on them to weigh that information with other sources and to reach a reasonable conclusion when the votes are taken. 

To maintain the investment in these relationships, the VSAIA needs to support those candidates who supported restricting unlicensed practice, who supported limiting by contract an architect’s liability, and who support the concept of qualifications-based selection for public projects. 

In supporting the PAC, you are supporting your firm and your ability to practice your profession.  Please contribute to the PAC today by sending a check equal to one-hour’s billable time to the VSAIA PAC, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA   23220.

APELSCIDLA Update: June-July

Draft legislation concerning unlicensed practice and continuing education was shown to architects serving on the regulatory board at their May meeting.  The architects and board staff had no official comments, but offered some suggestions.

The first of the two proposed measures aims to add flexibility to the continuing education requirements that, if passed, would put Virginia in a good position to accommodate changes being discussed at the national level by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.  The second aims to strengthen the laws identifying unlicensed practice.

Architects serving on the committee are J. Everette “Ebo” Fauber, AIA-E, James Boyd, AIA, and Michael LeMay, AIA.  Boyd was elected as section chairman for the 2011–2012 year.

In discussing continuing education, Fauber explained that the nation’s registration boards are all over the map with their requirements.  For example, Virginia requires 16 hours per biennium.  Fauber said 34 jurisdictions require 12 per year.  Most jurisdictions specifically require hours in health, safety, and welfare.  Virginia does not.  The more critical element to standardizing criteria nationally, he and Boyd agreed, was the reporting period end date. 

NCARB’s model law is being reviewed in an attempt to establish common criteria throughout the country including a single reporting date.  Currently in Virginia, the month an architect received his license is the reporting — or re-registration — date every other year.  In allowing the board to slide architects’ re-registration dates to a single date, those architects licensed in multiple jurisdictions would find it easier to manage their records.  

Delegates to NCARB’s national meeting in June will discuss and vote on the package of resolutions that includes revising its model law.

The proposals concerning unlicensed practice initially have been inserted into the list of unlawful acts that apply to any occupation requiring a license.  To the existing list of nine acts, the VSAIA is suggesting three.  These are:

  1. Entering into a contract to provide a professional or occupational regulated service or offering to provide a regulated service without holding a valid license to provide the regulated service.
  2. Advertising to provide services regulated by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation when the individual or business entity is not certified or licensed to practice the regulated occupation including, but not limited to, telephone directory listings, Internet websites, and radio and television advertisements. 
  3. Including unlicensed persons or business entities in published rosters or lists of persons who offer a regulated service where the person or business entity is not certified or licensed to offer the regulated service, including telephone directories, Internet sites, newspapers and periodicals.   

Both of these proposals were viewed earlier by the Joint Legislative Committee (JLC), which will determine how to refine the drafts prior to the 2012 legislative session.  Along with the VSAIA, the JLC comprises the two statewide engineering societies:  the American Council of Engineering Companies and the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers.