Volume 2, No. 7 - May 20, 2008
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BLAST - News and Notes from AIA Northern Virginia

Einhorn Yaffee Prescott
The Katzen Arts Center, by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott (more info)
In This Issue


Design Awards Gala

AIA Honors

In Its Element...

Featured Project:
  The Katzen Arts Center


Visit the AIA Northern Virginia Website

DesignDC: Leading ReNEWal
by Ed Weaver, AIA
By now it should be clear to all that, other than possibly a white sandy beach, the best place to be July 8th - 10th is at DesignDC. Being held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center at the Federal Triangle Metro Station in Washington, DC, this year's theme is Leading ReNEWal, and focuses on how sustainable design and adaptive reuse, historic preservation and downtown revitalization can all work together. Your next move is to sign up soon, because the Early Bird registration prices end June 1st. Why spend more than you have to? Save that extra money for sunscreen.

This year's keynote address will be delivered on Tuesday, July 8th by Marshall Purnell, FAIA, the AIA's 84th president and design principal at Devrouax & Purnell. Throughout his career, Marshall has been instrumental in the creation of a number of notable Washington landmarks, including the Nationals' new stadium, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and the Washington Convention Center. Mr. Purnell is spearheading the AIA's goal of promoting sustainable design and resource conservation across the country.

Co-sponsored by AIA|DC, AIA Potomac Valley and AIA Northern Virginia, this year's event promises to expand on the successful format of previous conferences, with more exhibit space, larger classrooms and more sessions. All this is geared toward making DesignDC the must-attend local conference for education and networking opportunities.

Sessions and speakers will talk about the tools, trends and technology needed to ensure industry leadership. Whether you are an architect, designer, engineer, contractor, developer or just interested in the world of design, there is something for you to learn and apply to your professional or personal life.

Educational sessions will be extensive, include topics such as:
  • Sustainability in a variety of practice settings
  • The NCARB IDP process for emerging architects
  • Mentoring
  • Marketing and strategic planning
  • Accessibility
  • Building codes
  • Architectural photography
  • Historic preservation
  • Building Information Modeling
  • Healthcare trends
  • Justice trends
  • International practice
  • Building technologies
Several tour opportunities are available, including:
  • US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Building, designed by Moshe Safdie, FAIA
  • Sidney Harman Hall – Harman Center for the Arts designed by Jack Diamond and Smithgroup
  • Eastern Market designed by Adolf Cluss, renovated by Quinn Evans
  • The Nassif Building redesign by Smithgroup
  • National Building Museum's Saarinen Exhibit.
Want to know more? Want to sign up right away? Of course you do, and you can visit the DesignDC website to get details on how to register, peruse the agenda for a complete list of educational sessions, get directions and see the growing list of vendors that will be available to make you, your firm and your projects more successful in the coming year. Again, Early Bird registration prices end June 1st, so keep that in mind. Finally, please consider having your firm become a sponsor of this important conference. Many opportunities are available, and I would be glad to discuss those with you. I can be contacted at DMJM Design at (703) 682-6091 or via email

Design Awards Gala : June 7

Come join us on the evening of June 7th to celebrate design and reconnect with fellow Chapter members at our biggest annual event, the Design Awards Gala. This year's Gala will be hosted at American University's Katzen Arts Center, designed by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott. Learn more about the building in the Featured Project section below.

This year's keynote speaker is Chad Oppenheim, AIA a rising star in Miami and nationally. Learn more about his firm, Oppenheim Architecture+Design from their website or from the cover story of the latest issue of AIA Northern Virginia News.

As always, the Gala will include dinner and cocktails, the keynote address, an architectural tour of the Katzen Arts Center and of course the unveiling of the winning projects.

By now you should have received your invitation in the mail. Tickets are $100 and reservations must be received no later than May 29. Click here for more information and to reserve your place online. 2 AIA/CES HSW credits available. Direct any questions to the Chapter House via email or at (703) 549-9747

AIA Honors Nominations
by Marlene Walli Shade, AIA

AIA members are eligible for honors on three levels; Chapter, Society and National. Far too often our Chapter lets honors opportunities go by without a nominee being put forth. Don't let this happen this year. Don’t let your light hide under a bush.

Please submit suggestions for Honors to one of the members of the Honors committee and please let us know if you would like to join our committee.

Chapter Honors:
  Allied Professional
  Award of Honor
  Outstanding Achievement
  Recognition of Service to the Chapter
  Craftsmanship Award
  Research and Development Award (a new award we are initiating this year)

Society Awards
  Test of Time (to a building)
  William C. Noland Medal
  The Architecture Medal for Virginia Service
  T. David Fitzgibbon Virginia Architecture Firm Award
  Distinguished Achievement Award

AIA National
  Gold Medal
  Architecture Firm Award
  AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education

If you would like to nominate someone, please contact Marlene Walli Shade, AIA, Kevin Sneed, AIA or Susan Notkins, AIA.

In Its Element... Viewing Architecture Through Its Program
by Matt Shuba
Last month I traveled to Seattle with another architecture student to get away from school, eat salmon and of course see a new town and its buildings. We saw libraries, nightclubs, museums, brightly colored wood-cladded neighborhoods and the bizarre stacking of buildings that rises up from Puget Sound, crescendoing from waterfront blues clubs to Pike Place Market to skyscrapers in no more than three blocks.

Blessed Sacrament ChapelAnd there is perhaps no building in town more discussed around Virginia Tech's Architecture department than Steven Holl's Chapel of St. Ignatius on the campus of the University of Seattle. My friend and I ducked into our hotel on Saturday during a particularly rainy spell (even for Seattle) to make an afternoon plan, which consisted of trekking out to the Chapel in less-than-ideal weather to avoid visiting on a Sunday and having to work around mass.

After a moment's reflection though I suggested that we consider not only going on Sunday but going to mass. We rifled through our suitcases to try and put together somewhat respectable ensembles (this required a trip to the store for me) and found another way to fill our afternoon.

When we arrived at the Chapel the next morning we took a seat near the back, by the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. It was a remarkable room (in the photograph on the left), and I marveled at its delicate use of light, which came from a heavily textured window, a window near the roof obscured by a wall and an internally-lit marble relic case, which cast an eerie orange glow from the edges around its doors. I ran my hands over the unusual walls, which were made of concrete coated in some kind of resin; (Mr. Holl's office confirmed it was scratch coat plaster covered in beeswax).

Taking it all in I missed an elderly woman in the corner sitting motionless in prayer and I quickly returned to my seat out of respect. I watched her from my seat and realized that the room meant something else all together to her. As the congregation filed in I remembered that this was just a chapel to its regular visitors; there were no plaques or boards about the architecture and I never saw the name "Steven Holl" anywhere in the building.

The mass began and we were engrossed in readings, music and prayers. For that hour I ceased to marvel at the details and the building was once again a house of worship. Mr Holl's work is a very restrained effort, an edifice never to himself nor to architecture but to the needs of the congregation. In a manner no different from a charming but unimaginative Catholic church I visited here in Blacksburg, the Chapel welcomed worshippers to light candles in its Narthex, dip their fingertips into the baptistry and kneel in prayer in its pews.

We returned after a leisurely lunch to photograph and sketch (the photograph above was not taken near the time of the service), to study the building in a conventional sense. But reflecting with my friend we agreed that no building tour could have matched the experience of attending mass there.

As I begin my thesis in the fall, I feel more aware of the experience of the user. Most of us are not architects, and a building's success or failure is in the eye of the people who are there every day. It is in this respect, not through academic praise nor acclaim that Mr Holl's Chapel is such an incredibly notable building.

Featured Project

The Katzen Arts Center
Washington, DC
Einhorn Yaffee Prescott

For the past two months, visitors to the National Museum of Natural History have experienced the world of butterflies in their innate environment, while remaining entirely indoors. HSMM | AECOM partnered with The Smithsonian Institution to design a 1,200-SF Butterfly Pavilion for the permanent exhibit Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution.

Upon entering the pavilion, hundreds of butterflies flutter about, landing on exotic plants and feeding on nectar and fruit. Before entering and exiting the pavilion, which holds approximately 35 people at one time, visitors pass through two sealed chambers that prevent the butterflies from escaping.

To create the necessary microclimate for the butterflies, a dedicated air handling unit was installed. HSMM also designed a misting system to keep the environment at a constant 80 degrees Fahrenheit and to maintain 80 percent humidity, creating a tropical, rainforest effect.

HSMM | AECOM's museum design team worked closely with The Smithsonian Institution to design the fully-enclosed, tropically-tempered house located on the Museum's second floor. The pavilion's structure consists of vertical aluminum ribs that form a curved shape in both plan and elevation. The diaphragm between the ribs consists of translucent polyester resin panels supported by T-shaped horizontal aluminum purlins. The interior features lighting that mimics outdoor daylight and curving walls to prevent butterflies from becoming trapped in corners and crevices.

The Butterfly Pavilion marks the latest in a series of highly successful new construction and renovation projects designed by HSMM | AECOM's museum practice.

For more information about HSMM, visit www.hsmm.aecom.com.


May 21 - AIA Northern Virginia Lunch Series: Hazard Mitigation Technologies for Windows
Noon-1:00p, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria. This seminar will focus on the design and installation of retrofit window systems as well as new construction to reduce glass hazards that are associated with bomb blast, windstorm, earthquake, forced-entry and electronic eavesdropping. The latest methods employed by the US Federal Government and the private sector for physical security and reduction of wireless signals through windows will be reviewed. Presented by Glasslock Designed Protection. 1 AIA/CES HSW LU. Free. Please e-mail your registration request to reservations@aianova.org.

June 1 - Deadline for Early Registration to Attend DesignDC : Leading ReNEWal
DesignDC 2008 is being held July 8-10 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. AIA|DC, AIA Potomac Valley and AIA Northern Virginia are co-sponsors of this year’s event, which promises to be the must-attend local conference for education and networking opportunities. The theme this year, Leading ReNEWal, looks at how sustainable design and adaptive reuse, historic preservation and downtown revitalization can all work together. For more information, view the article above. For the complete agenda, go to the DesignDC website.

June 4 - Virginia Society AIA Honors Program Workshop
10:30a-1:30p, at the Virginia Center for Architecture, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220. A free workshop designed to present an overview of the Honors program, provide guidance on developing a successful nomination packet and clarify definitions for each of the awards. The workshop is hosted by the VSAIA Honors Committee Chair, Mary Cox, FAIA. Nominations for all Virginia Society honors may be made by individual members, by chapter honors committees, by Society committees, or by the Board of Directors itself. Completed nomination packets are due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, 2008.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by May 30 by emailing Rhea George or by calling (804) 237-1768.

June 6-8 - ARE Structures Review
At the Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria Campus. David Thaddeus, AIA returns to present his comprehensive structures review. Additional information and registration forms are available here.

June 7 - AIA Northern Virginia Design Awards Gala
6:00p, at the Katzen Arts Center at American University. For more information, view the article above.