There is no secret that the last 18 months have been a challenge for many of our brothers and sisters in the profession. For AIA Virginia, I feel like we have been playing defense in the pandemic. It started as an urgent scramble to get our members the essential tools and resources to navigate the choppy waters caused by an intentional economic shutdown and public health crisis. Over time, we transitioned to a virtual environment which undoubtedly has its advantages and disadvantages. It allowed us to continue providing the needed human interaction that is necessary for positive mental health. Our Design Forum keynote presentation by Steven Holl, FAIA, felt like a fireside chat on Zoom.

On the other hand, I have yet to hear of a virtual meeting or event going viral where people continue to talk about it for months after it concludes. Those who you meet for the first time through a virtual environment are not very memorable after you hit the large red “Leave Meeting” icon. As an association that is THE VOICE of the architecture profession, we cannot fully live out our mission behind a computer screen.

So, in this letter, I want to yell from the rooftops:

“We’re Baaaaaaaaacccckkkkkk!”

We have wasted no time getting back to making memorable moments and demonstrating the value that each one of you offers to our world as an architect. Within the last 30 days, AIA Virginia has twice been a requested resource by our state and local elected officials.

On September 29th, we delivered a presentation to the Commission on School Construction and Modernization which will help our state’s leaders develop funding recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. That same night, AIA Virginia hosted our “Blueprint for Better Communities” dinner in Norfolk. This event brought together our local architects and prominent community leaders, including the Mayor, to discuss the pursuit of the city’s vision together.

Just a few days later, we presented “School as a Community Catalyst: Happy, Healthy, and High-Performing” to our local elected officials at the Virginia Municipal League’s annual conference in Leesburg. And lastly, we held our first in-person Board meeting since the pandemic at the University of Virginia where we had an inspirational time engaging with students, faculty, School of Architecture Dean Malo Hutson, and Alice Raucher, FAIA (Architect for the University).

This is the time of year where we set our eyes on Architecture Exchange East and Visions for Architecture. Our conference will be mostly virtual and span the week of Nov. 1-5. However, the last day will have an in-person option at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. On this day, we will host Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, as our keynote speaker followed by the safe celebration of our 2020 and 2021 Visions honorees over cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Remember, if you purchase an in-person ticket, it includes the keynote and Visions!

I encourage you to register at: ArchEx 2021 Registration Open – AIA Virginia (

Many of you I have not seen in person since the beginning of 2020. Come join us and I assure you that we will safely have a great time!

In service,

R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, NOMA, MBA, CAE
Executive Vice President