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CAUS young alumni dominate national American Institute of Architects Awards

Two of 14 architects earning top honors as national American Institute of Architects 2017 Young Architects Award winners launched their careers in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Corey Clayborne, a 2004 graduate of the School of Architecture + Design, and Luis Vélez-Alvarez, a 2005 graduate of the master’s program and former A+D faculty member, were honored at the 2017 AIA Conference on Architecture, April in Orlando, and also in a Virginia Tech reception.

With their awards, Clayborne and Vélez-Alvarez earned Virginia Tech the distinction of being the only architectural program to boast two 2017 national Young Architect alumni winners.

“I think it’s great that two Virginia Tech A+D alumni received awards celebrating the accomplishments and leadership of architects early in their careers,” said Vélez-Alvarez. “This serves as an example of how the School of Architecture + Design prepares students for their professional life and commitment to the community. It also validates the choices I’ve made to work hard in my profession and give back through volunteering and education.”

“It truly is a tremendous honor to receive this award from the AIA,” said Clayborne. “Our university motto at Virginia Tech is ‘Ut Prosim,’ which means That I May Serve. This award is a reflection of just that.”

The AIA Young Architects Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.

“The recognition of Corey and Luis is a demonstration that our alumni are constantly striving for excellence in their work for their clients, the community, and in service of the profession,” said Hunter Pittman, director of the School of Architecture + Design. “Their commitment to these goals and continuing strong connection to the school is a testament to the school’s core mission of strong professional education as an enduring impact on the profession and the communities it serves.”

Clayborne recently accepted the role of AIA Virginia Executive Vice President/CEO, replacing Virginia Tech alumna Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, who is leaving at the end of this month to focus on her own firm.

Previously, Clayborne was a project manager and senior architect in Wiley|Wilson’s Richmond, Virginia, office, where his responsibilities included financial health, quality control, operational management and project management for a wide variety of local, state and federal projects.

He’s particularly known for his mentorship of the next generation of architects, focusing on their entry into the AIA, licensure and professional and personal group. He has been active in AIA Richmond and AIA Virginia, serving on both boards of directors. He has won numerous awards including the AIA 2017 Young Architects Award and the AIA Virginia 2016 Award for Distinguished Achievement.

His service to the community includes the Charlottesville Planning Commission, Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects and the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia Mentoring program.

Clayborne was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to Virginia’s Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects in 2015 as the board’s youngest-ever appointee.

Vélez-Alvarez is an associate and architectural designer at SmithGroupJJR’s Washington, D.C., office. His passion to make architecture an extension of nature has led to projects that gained LEED certification, one of which was awarded the LEED Core and Shell Project of the Year in 2009.

He has helped design the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 170,000-square-foot headquarters; award-winning buildings for Carr Properties in Washington, D.C; and currently leads the design effort repositioning the 500,000-square-foot National Press Building.

As AIA|DC’s associate director, he has helped educate young students about architecture through the Washington Architectural Foundation’s Architecture in the Schools program; co-founded its Latin American Interior Designers, Engineers, and Architects committee; and participated in the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program. In 2016, he was named AIA|DC Emerging Architect.

“These two professionals represent the quality education we strive to offer in the college,” said Jack Davis, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “The Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia have strong histories of architectural significance, and we are proud that Corey and Luis have contributed greatly to this heritage.”

Virginia Tech’s architecture program is consistently ranked in the top five nationally by DesignIntelligence, the leading source of design school rankings. It also is home to internationally recognized, award-winning faculty and countless students and alumni who have earned national and global recognition for their work.

“The architectural education that I received at Virginia Tech was tremendous,” Clayborne said. “CAUS offers students the resources and freedom to explore design solutions as much as they like. Those are the types of opportunities that I still remember 13 years later. Our firm has many Hokies on board and we see candidates from Virginia Tech get stronger and stronger each year.”