Volume 14, No. 7 - Year in Review
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BLAST - News and Notes from AIA Northern Virginia

2020: The Year in Review

COVID-19 and a Move to Virtual Programing
By the end of March our chapter, like so many other organizations in reaction to a widespread pandemic, stopped all in-person operations and moved the entirety of our programing to an online virtual format. While the initial impact to this move was abrupt and disruptive, our committees soon adapted their programs to online offerings and found ways to continue educating, engaging, and connecting as we always do. Marquee events like the annual Design Awards program went forward and even thrived through this new format reaching a much larger audience than any in-person version of the event we have ever held. Although we will all look forward to a return to events where we can socialize and greet one another in person, virtual events will continue to play a large role in our chapter with their ability to reach and engage people without regard to geographic distance.

A Racial Reckoning and J.E.D.I. Thinking
As the pandemic was expanding so too were high profile incidents of racial injustice that shook our nation and led to a reckoning and realization that our much valued principles of equality are not equally applied to all. Our own profession is not isolated from problems of racism, discrimination, and a lack of equitable opportunity and we joined many other chapters over the summer and fall in discussions and self-examinations on how we could begin to dismantle these long-held barriers. These discussions led to action items and goals for a new collective attitude that will encourage education, understanding, and an embrace of the diversity our members have to offer.

Membership Figures In response to collective discussions on removing barriers to a more diverse and inclusive profession our chapter took action to provide new and expanded financial support to students and emerging professionals. These donations utilized money from our Community Outreach Fund and Operating Budget and help set the standard for subsequent years where we will look to further expand our support. A new initiative from our College of Past Presidents and Fellows was started that created a scholarship to support a minority architecture student with financial need while studying at a Virginia architecture school. This new program is a testament to the continued dedication of these leaders of our chapter toward ensuring a strong and diverse profession.

In spite of the financial strain the impacts from COVID-19 and the related economic downturn had on our chapter we finished the year with a balanced budget and stable finances as we move into 2021. Hard work from our staff, committee chairs, and other dedicated leaders helped ensure that our high level of programming and members was maintained while reducing expenses. Additionally, the chapter is fortunate to have a strong reserve fund, as a result of responsible foresight in previous years, that will help bridge expected uncertainties for the coming year and allow our chapter to continue to thrive and fulfill our mission of serving our members, our profession, and the community in which we live and work.

Thank you to all our members for allowing me to be your President this year. It has been a wonderful and humbling experience. I look forward to continuing to contribute to our great organization. All the best to all of you.

    -- Joseph McCoy, AIA, 2020 Chapter President


I know that this has been a year filled with unknowns, hardships, and "new norms." I also know it has been a year of seeing people across the globe find ways to overcome these issues, being creative, stepping up, and doing good for others. Our chapter has been no exception. In a year where we cannot meet face-to-face, the challenge of advocacy has been monumental. But, with no surprise, our volunteer members have found a way.

Despite the challenges, our Legislative/Government Affairs Committee had another stellar year. Led by Eliza B. Engle, AIA – who received an Outstanding Achievement Award from our chapter for all her hard work leading this committee – continued to raise record amounts of donations to help lobby our local, state, and federal representatives on issues concerning architects and our profession. This includes advocating for COVID relief bills benefitting architects in Virginia hard hit by the pandemic.

Through AIA Virginia, Eliza, along with Maury Saunders, AIA, have helped grow the size and expand the reach of the Advocacy Council. This includes creating new subcommittees for Outreach and Engagement and Operations and Logistics to be able to manage all the programs and events this council is now overseeing.

At the AIA's annual Grassroots conference back in February (remember when we could travel to conferences), the national advocacy platform was presented around Building a Healthy America through "A Future Economy," "Climate Action," and "Healthy and Equitable Communities." You can read more about it here: https://www.aia.org/pages/6315362-policy-platform-2020.

2020 was to be our first year expanding our annual Architecture Week into a full Architecture Month. A bright spot to this was the Travel Sketch Competition. The only event that was able to continue, we received over 70 submissions that were juried by invited artists from the Torpedo Factory. A hugely successful event, you can see winning sketches on our web site: https://aianova.org/architecturemonth.php

Lastly, two other annual events – our chapter Design Awards and Annual Meeting (Autumn Social) – did not throw in the towel when this pandemic hit. Both committees pivoted and found a way to still provide outreach to our members and the community, delivering some impressive online events with small teams and very tight timelines. You can watch them on our Chapter YouTube Channel.

Looking ahead, our chapter and the others in Virginia, along with AIA Virginia, are planning an "Advocacy Day" in May based on information gathered from town hall events with architects from all over the state discussing the role of Citizen Architect. It’s wonderful to see this type of collaboration with our fellow chapters and the continued push to advocate for our profession.

    -- T.J. Meehan, AIA, 2019 Chapter President

Activities and Events

Even during unprecedented times our chapter continues to provide a wide variety of (virtual) programs to support members through quarantine and the public exposure and acknowledgment of systemic racism in our country and industry.

Prior to mid-March the chapter was ready for the year, hosting several events including the annual Mardi Gras themed Open House and the first of three lectures from the WIA Committee. By April, it was clear that times had changed, and we needed to find new ways of staying connected. As we all became more comfortable with video conferencing, our committees worked diligently to transition scheduled in-person events into virtual platforms. Their tireless efforts led to successful collaborations with architects and industry professionals in Boston, New York, and Washington state.

Activity and event highlights from this year include:
  • Our annual Mardi Gras themed Open House in February
  • Architecture Month – Travel Sketch Competition: While all public activities for Architecture Month in April were cancelled our Travel Sketch Competition continued and resulted in over 70 submissions. The winning sketches were beautiful and made us feel as if we were there with the artist when the sketches were created.
  • The Legislative / Government Affairs Committee hosted a series of online Town Hall meetings with citizen architects from four jurisdictions within our chapter area: Falls Church, Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County.
  • The Design Awards Celebration took place virtually on August 13. The design jury from AIA Houston awarded 26 projects for their design excellence. Videos of the projects with jury comments can be found on the Chapter’s YouTube Channel.
  • Design Awards
  • In September, our newly formed CAE Committee collaborated with AIA Long Island and Nassau BOCES to host A New Frontier for School Planning: Designing for Resiliency, Safety, and Well-being in the Wake of COVID-19. There were approx. 200 attendees from the NY and DMV areas, with a mix of architects, educators, school administrators, facilities folks, and students.
  • Our WIA Committee continued to provide a year of diverse events including: a three-part lecture series, virtual happy hours, charitable events, and networking programs. The 2020 Lecture Series, held in partnership with Beyer Blinder Belle, discussed what firms were currently doing to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive and how current practices could be improved.
  • The Autumn Social and Annual Meeting was held virtually on October 20. During the event, our 2021 officers and directors were announced along with the achievements of our Honor Award recipients. We also recognized our new Fellow, W. Kenneth Wiseman, FAIA along with our recently licensed architects and ARE Scholarship recipients.
  • In light of the monumental national and global events of 2020, the Interschool Student Design Competition has been re-envisioned this year as the Interschool Student Design Conversation. Architecture students from the six local schools of architecture developed video presentations addressing significant issues regarding the PRACTICE of Architecture, the EDUCATION of Architects, and the PRODUCT of Architecture and the Built Environment.
  • As part of the conversation on Race in America, our chapter hosted a two-part series on Dismantling Racism and Discrimination in the Architecture Profession – A Framework for Action. The sessions identified concrete short, middle, and long-term goals to promote and implement justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within our profession. Several short-term actions are already underway including financial support to established initiatives supporting women and minority architecture students.
All events rely on the continued dedication and efforts of our committees and supportive staff. Thanks to all for another successful year.

    -- April Drake, AIA, 2020 Secretary

Financial Outlook

At the beginning of the year, no one could have anticipated how our daily lives and how we do things as a chapter would change in 2020. As the year progressed, we adjusted and as a result of the flexibility, ingenuity, and thoughtfulness of our staff and volunteers, we made it through the year financially sound. The chapter depends on just over half of the annual budget being funded by membership dues. The other half of the budget is funded by events, programs, volunteer committees, and sponsorships.

ABI Trends The financial strength of the chapter is a direct result of the commitment and work of Debbie Burns, Hon. AIA (Executive Director), Lorin Boswell (Membership Director), Matt Shuba, AIA (Communication and IT Director), Jody Cranford, who helps with our partnership program, and the many volunteers who develop and deliver valuable programming while carefully balancing available financial resources.

The 501(c)(3) Community Outreach Fund, created in 2019, is dedicated to positively impacting educational and public outreach programs. We continue to seek tax deductible charitable contributions made by individuals wishing to support these key chapter missions. This past year we made donations to both the Desiree Cooper Memorial Fund and the Hampton University Department of Architecture Scholarship Fund. Both are aimed at supporting diversity in the field of architecture at the collegiate level. The chapter also contributed $1000 of seed money to the new Virginia NOMA chapter. Our Women in Architecture Committee donated to a second Desiree Cooper Memorial Fund which supports minority interns taking the ARE. The chapter continued our support of local architecture students with our annual scholarship competition as well as our Associate members through our ARE scholarship program.

In 2021, the chapter plans to continue supporting our members as we, and the country, continue to battle the pandemic. We will stay focused on our core mission goals of advancing the practice of architecture among our community of professionals and promoting awareness and appreciation of architecture among the public. Our chapter members, as well as our Northern Virginia communities, continue to benefit from the programs and services our chapter provides and the efforts of both our staff and volunteers.

    -- Sonia Jarboe, AIA, 2020 Treasurer

Our Volunteers

An enormous THANK YOU to all our volunteers for planning a full year of essential, exciting, educational, and entertaining programs despite a global pandemic! Not only did they need to reschedule events, they reinvented them virtually. They provided us with opportunities to share how we were coping, they inspired us to have important conversations, they motivated us to address critical advocacy issues, and they informed us on how to pivot and rethink design.

First, thank you to our 2020 Chapter President, Joseph McCoy, AIA! Joe has adeptly led us through a very challenging year, sharing great ideas, leading our critical conversations about racism and discrimination in the profession, making necessary adjustments in the budget, jumping in whenever needed, and offering encouragement to everyone. Thank you also to our 2020 Executive Committee, who served tirelessly this year as so many new and challenging issues arose:
  • Manoj Dalaya, FAIA, 2021 President Elect/1st Vice President
  • Sonia Jarboe, AIA, Treasurer
  • April Drake, AIA, Secretary
  • T.J. Meehan, AIA, Past President
Thank you to our dedicated 2020 Board of Directors: Braden Field, AIA; Stephen Kulinski AIA; Roland Lemke, AIA; Rebecca Mezny, AIA; Simone Saidel, AIA; Jay Scruggs, Jr., AIA; Charles Todd, AIA; Anh Tran, Associate AIA; and Edward Weaver, AIA.

Thank you to our 2020 Committee Chairs for their service during a challenging year:
  • Architecture for Education: Meredith Ellinger, AIA and Jenine Kotob, AIA
  • Architecture Lab: Ravine Kassam, Associate AIA
  • Architecture Week: Joseph McCoy, AIA
  • Communications: Anh Tran, Associate AIA
  • Community Service / Canstruction®: Lisa Lettieri, AIA and Jay Scruggs, AIA
  • CRAN: Francisca Alonso, Associate AIA
  • Design Awards: J. Paul Lewis, AIA and Charles Todd, AIA
  • Environment (COTE): Joshua Rubbelke, AIA
  • Fellows: Kathryn Prigmore, FAIA
  • Golf Tournament: Bill Conkey, AIA
  • Historic Resources: John Burns, FAIA
  • Honors and Nominations: T.J. Meehan, AIA
  • Legislative/Government Affairs: Eliza Engle, AIA
  • Schools Connections: Joshua McKenrick, AIA
  • Small Firms: Matt Guenther, AIA
  • Women in Architecture: Rebecca Pantschyschak, AIA and Katie Selis, AIA
  • Young Architects Forum: Toni Lem, AIA and Lara Fada, Associate AIA
Also, thanks to our 2020 representatives on the AIA Virginia Board: John Burns, FAIA; Karen Conkey, AIA; Eliza Engle, AIA; Spencer Lepler, AIA; Maury Saunders, AlA; and Stephen Wakeman, AlA.

Looking forward to 2021...

The 2021 Chapter Executive Committee:
  • President – Manoj Dalaya, FAIA
  • President Elect/1st Vice President – Sonia Jarboe, AIA
  • Treasurer – April Drake, AIA
  • Secretary – Braden Field, AIA
  • Past President – Joseph McCoy, AIA
2021 Chapter Directors: Stephen Kulinski, AIA; Roland Lemke, AIA; Joshua McKenrick, AIA; Rebecca Mezny, AIA; Simone Saidel, AIA; Jay Scruggs, AIA; Charles Todd, AIA; Anh Tran, Associate AIA; and Edward Weaver, AIA.

2021 AIA Virginia Directors: Karen Conkey, AIA; Eliza Engle, AIA; Christopher Kehde, AIA; Spencer Lepler, AIA; Maury Saunders, AlA; and Stephen R. Wakeman, AlA.

2021 Committee Chairs:
  • Architecture for Education: Meredith Ellinger, AIA and Jenine Kotob, AIA
  • Architecture Lab: Ravine Kassam, Assoc. AIA
  • Architecture Week: Joseph McCoy, AIA
  • Communications: Anh Tran, Associate AIA
  • Community Service/Canstruction: Lisa Lettieri, AIA and Jay Scruggs, AIA
  • Design Awards: J. Paul Lewis, AIA and Charles Todd, AIA
  • Environment (COTE): Matt Alexander, AIA
  • Fellows: Kathryn Prigmore, FAIA
  • Golf Tournament: Bill Conkey, AIA
  • Historic Resources: John Burns, FAIA
  • Honors & Nominations: Joseph McCoy, AIA
  • Legislative/Government Affairs: Eliza Engle, AIA
  • Schools Connections: Joshua McKenrick, AIA
  • Women in Architecture: Anna Barbour, AIA and Rebecca Pantschyschak, AIA
  • Young Architects Forum: Lara Fada, Associate AIA
We hope as a member that you will continue to connect with the chapter through our numerous programs and activities. Please share any ideas you have for things you would like to see us add in 2021 and we will do our best to make it happen. Also, please consider joining this remarkable group of volunteers…get involved and lend your support to an activity or committee in 2021.

Contact our Executive Director Debbie Burns, Hon. AIA at debbie@aianova.org or our 2021 Chapter President Manoj Dalaya, FAIA at mdalaya@kgdarchitecture.com.

    -- Debbie Burns, Hon. AIA, Executive Director

Looking Forward to 2021

Hindsight is 2020
We have navigated an unprecedented crisis imposed by the pandemic. The challenges have also presented unequalled opportunity to embrace change and transformations. Architects can partner with healthcare professionals and researchers to create a safe and resilient built environment. We look forward to creating an even more satisfying and fulfilling experience for our members during the upcoming year. Based on our members input we will:
  • Broaden connections with each other through virtual networking and functions.
  • Act on social issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness.
  • Advocate at local, state, and national levels for issues that concern architects.
  • Provide information that helps businesses survive and thrive during and after the pandemic.
  • Create more professional practice events that benefit all practitioners.
  • Be future-oriented, innovative, regarding program offerings.
Broad Ideas
We look forward to harnessing the passion of our members to do more to advance racial justice and equality in our profession, and in our communities. This will be done while keeping our continued goal of combating climate change as our top priority.

The twin threats to lives and livelihoods have affected our profession. As the economy stabilizes as a result of vaccinations, and our adaptations to the changes take effect, we can be more aspirational and optimistic about the future. Firms that learn lessons from 2020 will retool themselves to create greater impact and stability in our profession.

We look forward to actively:
  • Dismantle barriers within systems and environments that create injustice and exclusion.
  • Expand diversity and inclusiveness within the profession.
  • Train and educate the future of our profession.
  • Increase alignment with the state component to focus resources on enhancing our membership experience.
  • Promote our strategic plan by advancing the profession and practice, and by advocating for all actions that advance the quality of life in our chapter area.
We will use lessons learned over the past year to:
  • Provide learning opportunities through virtual building tours.
In an effort at greater cooperation and forging connections, we will:
  • Coordinate and share programming with other components to provide greater offerings.
  • Combine volunteer time and effort from multiple chapters for committee events.
  • Partner with comparable chapters for annual design award jury selections.
  • Continue our annual events including Architecture Month, Design Awards, and the Interschool Student Design Competition, virtually if necessary.
Please check the front page of our website for our current calendar, check and sync our Google calendar, and look for the calendar in each issue of BLAST.

    -- Manoj V. Dalaya, FAIA, Incoming 2020 Chapter President

Now It's Your Turn

Take full advantage of your AIA membership and become an active member in 2021! The chapter offers you the opportunity to make a significant difference for yourself, your community, and the profession. We need your participation; check out our Volunteer Page to learn more about the opportunities. Let us know what we can do for you and where you would like to help. Contact us at aianova@aianova.org.

Membership Renewal Information

 Your 2021 AIA dues can be paid online, by phone, by mail or by a dues installment plan. Specific instructions are included with your invoice and additional information is available on the AIA website.