Virginia Tech Awarded $25,000 NCARB Prize Grand Prize

31 March 2011

The 10th, and final, National Council Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Prize for the Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy has been awarded to six architectural schools with the grand prize going to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), in Blacksburg, VA.

In its 10-year history, the NCARB Prize has celebrated 76 projects that integrate practice and education. The Prize program has impacted tens of thousands of students by awarding more than $680,000 to architecture schools to encourage and support the integration of practice and education in the academy.

“The Prize has identified and recognized many outstanding existing programs and it has had a lasting impact on education,” said 2001 NCARB President Peter Steffian, FAIA, NCARB, a member of NCARB’s Practice Education Committee and the visionary behind the creation of the Prize competition.

The $25,000 NCARB Prize grand prize went to Virginia Tech for implementing a program that gave students unique exposure to non-faculty architect practitioners and allied business experts to create their own virtual firm. This special learning experience merged academic knowledge and many aspects of an actual architectural practice.

Five other schools were also named NCARB Prize winners: the University of Cincinnati, the University of Oregon, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Virginia Tech for a second project, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Each of the five received a $7,500 cash award. Two other schools were cited for honorable mention: Montana State University and Pennsylvania State University.

The NCARB Prize was created to encourage, reward, and showcase diverse initiatives, activities, and courses that integrate architecture practice and architecture education in an academic setting. Through the program, NCARB recognizes ways to integrate the theory of architecture with the practice of architecture by partnering educators and architects.

Thirty-four schools submitted a total of 45 projects for this year’s NCARB Prize. In order to be eligible, schools must have a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)-accredited program or a program that is a candidate for NAAB accreditation and the school must be located in an NCARB Member Board jurisdiction. Projects had to demonstrate creative initiatives to integrate practice and education, offer students academic credit for participation, and involve at least one non-faculty architect practitioner who holds a current registration in a U.S. jurisdiction. There were no restrictions on the type of projects that could be submitted for the NCARB Prize; projects did not have to be studio-based or design-based and projects did not have to result in a building design or a built project.

2011 Grand Prize Recipient
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, School of Architecture and Design
“Designing Practice”

Virginia Tech captured the grand prize for engaging students in the often “mundane” subject of professional practice by introducing it as a design problem—an innovative means to make the subject relevant to students. The highly interactive academic course exposed architecture students to real and virtual aspects of running their own firms. The course involved architects, attorneys, business consultants, and registration board representatives. The course investigated topics such as the architect’s image in today’s culture, the internship and licensure processes, how registration boards work, entrepreneurship, compensation by clients, risk management, construction contract administration management, ethics, and people skills. Information was delivered through class discussions, firm visits, one-on-one interviews, guest lectures, writing assignments, and research. Guest lectures included discussion of professional liability and risk management by an architect and attorney and practice management by a professional business consultant.

Project Directors: Keith Zawistowski, Associate AIA, GC, Assistant Professor of Practice; and Marie Zawistowski, architecte d.p.l.g., Assistant Professor of Practice

2011 Prize Recipients
University of Cincinnati, School of Architecture and Interior Design
“Roche Health Center”

Collaborative relationships between students, their instructors, architect practitioners, and many others helped turn scarcity into sufficiency for health care needs in rural Tanzania, East Africa. Together, they created a 14-building master plan for a health center and made arrangements to obtain materials and train local workers for its construction in one of the world’s most medically underserved regions. The project involved graduate students, architects, engineers, two nonprofits, the Tanzanian government, and the university’s colleges of medicine, nursing, and pharmacy. Through the unique collaboration, students participated in cultural research, testing of building materials, contract preparation, marketing, financing, and project and construction management. The jury praised the project for being replicable in many parts of the world needing quality building design and construction.

Project Director: Michael Zaretsky, Assistant Professor

University of Oregon, School of Architecture and Allied Arts
“Sustainable City Year (Salem)-Police Station for the City of Salem”
Students worked with architect practitioners, educators, and municipal officials as part of a yearlong sustainability partnership with the city of Salem, OR. As a studio project, students engaged with design firms to research and design options for a new police station. Students partnered with a design team to produce a site analysis, a precedent study, and design proposals so the city council could vote for a municipal bond measure to fund the station. According to the jury, the project gave students insight into civic processes, which are seldom experienced before entering practice.

Project Directors: Nico Larco, Assistant Professor; Josh Hilton, Adjunct Professor; Christine Theodoropoulos, Head, Department of Architecture

University of Tennessee-Knoxville, School of Architecture
“A New Norris House”
This project leveraged the presence of numerous disciplines on campus, and integrated curricula to provide opportunities to collaborate on innovative, energy-efficient, regionally-specific housing. Students, their professors, and non-faculty architect practitioners merged contemporary technologies and principles of design and practice to create a historically and environmentally sensitive model home for a landmarked community. The jury noted the level of student involvement, including work with an integrated design/production team, local and state officials, material manufacturers, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Through workshops, research, tours, and on-site work, students designed the new home in the tradition of original residences in the historic town of Norris, TN.

Project Directors: Tricia A. Stuth, AIA, Assistant Professor; Robert C. French, RA, Adjunct Professor; Richard Kelso, PE, Ph.D., Professor; and Eric Holcombe, PE, Lecturer

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, School of Architecture and Design
“A Sustainable, Net Zero Energy Dwelling”
Students were engaged in a multidisciplinary effort that integrated instruction, research, and interaction with architects, consultants, fabricators, and material suppliers to design and construct a net-zero energy house. The jury noted both the involvement of multiple disciplines and the context of historical precedent, which framed the project. Throughout the project, students visited architectural and engineering firms; made site visits to fabrication facilities, trade shows, and conventions; worked with web designers and marketing specialists; and surveyed manufacturers and suppliers.

Project Directors: Robert Dunay, FAIA, Director, Center for Design Research; Joseph Wheeler, AIA, Project Coordinator; Robert Schubert, Associate Dean for Research; and David Clark, Adjunct Professor

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Architecture and Urban Planning
“Campus | Community Initiative”
Architecture students acted as a “firm,” while partnering with an actual firm to investigate public space at Columbia College Chicago for this winning project. Students conducted pre-design research including focus groups, behavioral observations, videography, photography, and tours of other schools’ student unions. This led to conceptual designs that were critiqued by the firm. Of particular note to the jury was the opportunity for students to understand the entrepreneurial aspects of planning, positioning, marketing, and securing work in the context of the partnering firm.

Project Director: Brian Schermer, Ph.D., RA, Associate Professor

Honorable Mentions
Montana State University
“The Next Generation of Mountain Architecture”
The jury recognized this project for teaching students leadership skills, communications skills, and how to participate in the community decision-marking process. With guidance from non-faculty architect practitioners and professors, students researched and designed a culturally and environmentally sensitive community center in Phortse, Nepal near Mt. Everest. Students then traveled to Nepal to work with local officials, contractors, and villagers to dig the foundation and construct critical building component prototypes.

Project Director: Michael Everts, AIA, NCARB, Associate Professor

Pennsylvania State University
“Interdisciplinary Collaborative BIM Studio”
The jury noted that this project provided a real-world experience for students by requiring them to design to a specific building program, existing site conditions, and actual budget. Students designed a mock day care center on their campus with assistance from non-faculty architect practitioners and others overseeing the design and construction of an actual day care center on campus.

Project Director: Robert J. Holland, AlA, Associate Professor

More information about this year's recipients is available in the NCARB Prize section.

Look for an exhibit illustrating the winning projects at the AIA National Convention in New Orleans 12-14 May 2011. NCARB will also spotlight the Prize winners by publishing the 2011 NCARB Prize Book in the fall.

2011 NCARB Prize Jury
Winners of the prestigious award are selected by an expert jury made up of educators and architect practitioners. The jury was comprised of members of NCARB’s Practice Education Committee and academic representatives (administrative leaders, department heads, or chairs) of schools with architecture programs accredited by the NAAB. An academic representative from the school awarded the 2010 NCARB Prize Grand Prize also served on the jury.

Academic Representatives
• Darius Sollohub, AIA, Director, New Jersey School of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology (2010 NCARB Prize Grand Prize recipient)
• Scott Wing, AIA, Interim Department Head, Department of Architecture, Pennsylvania State University
• Rodner Wright, AIA, Dean, School of Architecture, Florida A&M University

Practice Education Committee Members
• Daniel Bennett, FAIA, Committee Chair (Alabama)
• Paul Edmeades, AIA, NCARB (Maryland)
• Jeffrey Huberman, FAIA, NCARB (North Carolina)
• Peter Steffian, FAIA, NCARB (Massachusetts)
• Kyu-Jung Whang, AIA (New York)

2011 NCARB Grant
NCARB will continue to support the integration of practice and education with an increased focus on the NCARB Grant for the Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy. Now in its fifth year, the NCARB Grant recognizes and supports outstanding initiatives to integrate academic learning and real-world experience in the field of architecture. The Grant bestows cash awards to architecture schools to support the development and implementation of new initiatives. Multiple awards are possible, and in previous years the total award amount has ranged from $10,000 to $25,000.

For more information visit the NCARB Grant section.


The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.



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