Alexandria Contemporary Architecture Symposium

Alexandria's Department of Planning & Zoning hosted its first symposium on contemporary architecture June 19 & 20, 2015. The event featured guest speakers and explored what Alexandria's urban fabric may look like in 50 years. The event was free and open to the public, with AIA continuing education credits available.

Page archived as of April 27, 2018

Selected recordings from the event

AEDP logo
Reception by the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, Friday, June 19, 2015

George Washington Masonic National Memorial
101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria, VA 22314

Guest Speakers

Matthew Bell, FAIA is a registered architect who specializes in large-scale architecture and urban design. In addition to teaching architecture and urban design in the architecture program at the University of Maryland, Bell has been active throughout the Washington/Baltimore region with professional projects ranging in scale from waterfronts, new towns and neighborhoods to civic and mixed-use buildings and schools. He has served as president of the Neighborhood Design Center in Baltimore and Prince George's County, Maryland, assisting communities and community groups in matters of design and planning and from 1994 to 1999 Bell was the Director and conference chair of the Northeast Regional meeting of the Mayor's Institute for City Design, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Triennale di Milano and in 2006 he served as a juror for the Biennale of Venice (Italy).

Bell is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism.  He is a Principal in the Washington, DC office of Perkins Eastman Architects ( ) and also Vice President of the Restoring Ancient Stabia Foundation ( ), an international effort to restore the ancient seaside villas of Stabiae, located three kilometers from Pompei. His work with Perkins Eastman has received awards from the American Institute of Architects, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the USGBC and the Committee for 100 on the Federal City.  Bell has degrees in architecture and urban design from the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University.

Dan Kaplan, FAIA, LEED AP is a Senior Partner at FXFOWLE Architects ( His passion and preoccupation is sustainable city building. He is widely recognized for integrating design excellence, sustainable innovation and an urban point-of-view into noteworthy architectural and urban design projects. Throughout his twenty-seven-year tenure at FXFOWLE, Dan has principally served in a design and leadership capacity for many of the firm's significant projects–from individual buildings to large scale urban plans. He leads the firm's commercial and residential practice, and is adept at creating large-scale high performance buildings and urban design. He continues to evolve his design vision through architectural investigation, creating commissioned work, and teaching.

Dan's approach to crafting modern buildings and urban designs have garnered national and international design awards from the American Institute of Architects, World Architecture News, Architectural Review, Boston Society of Architects and the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, Society of Registered Architects, among others. Dan remains connected to academia as a co-chair of the Dean's Advisory Board/Visiting Lecturer at Cornell's College of Architecture, Art and Planning where he taught a graduate-level course that explores the marriage of design invention with environmental performance in the building envelope.

Roger K. Lewis, FAIA, is a practicing architect and urban planner, a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland College Park, a writer and a cartoonist. With M.I.T. architecture degrees, and after working as an architect in the Peace Corps in Tunisia (1964-66), Professor Lewis helped establish and began teaching design at the University of Maryland's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He and his firm have planned new communities; designed or co-designed multi-unit housing complexes, private homes, schools, art centers, recreational facilities and other civic and institutional projects; and crafted urban design and architectural guidelines for new developments. Since 1984, The Washington Post has published his column, "Shaping the City," about architecture, planning, urban design and housing, accompanied by cartoons that have been exhibited at the National Building Museum, the Miami Herald, the American Institute of Architects national headquarters and other venues. He is the author or co-author of numerous articles and books, among them Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession - The MIT Press published the first edition in 1984, the third edition in 2013. Since 2007, Prof. Lewis has appeared regularly to discuss "Shaping the City" issues on the Kojo Nnamdi radio show broadcast by WAMU-FM, American University's NPR affiliate in Washington, DC. Lewis has received international, national and local professional awards for his work as a designer, as a journalist and as a public advocate for design excellence.  

Ashley R. Wilson, AIA is the Graham Gund Architect for the National Trust for Historic Preservation ( and oversees changes to the historic properties and landscapes owned by the Trust.  Previous to this position she was a tenured professor and founding faculty member of the Clemson University/College of Charleston Graduate Program in Historic Preservation located in Charleston, SC.  She worked as a project architect for Oehrlein& Associates in Washington DC, Kapp and Robbins Architects and as the Assistant Architect for Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village.  Ashley received her architecture degrees from University of Virginia and the University of Notre Dame.   She lives in Old Town with her husband George and son Matthew. 

Saturday Events, June 20, 2015

Virginia Theological Seminary
Addison Academic Center
3232 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22314

Saturday's events consisted of round table discussions led by local designers on the following themes:

  • Designing with a historic context
  • Essential elements of urban design
  • Enduring architecture: what makes a timeless building?
  • The role of design regulations and design review boards

An optional tour of Virginia Theological Seminary's new chapel and prayer garden was also available.

Tour Description

The Virginia Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary was established in 1823.  In 2010 the majority of the 1881 Gothic revival Seminary chapel burned.  Participants in the one hour walking tour reviewed and discussed the unusual historic preservation approach that retained portions of the exterior walls of the historic chapel to frame a new outdoor prayer garden.  Participants examined the site context presented to the architect of the new Seminary chapel, Robert A.M Stern, FAIA, when locating a much larger new building on a relatively small site adjacent to the old chapel and surrounded by landmark buildings.  Discussion focused on whether the neo-traditional design constructed was the appropriate response for contemporary infill in a historic context.  Attendees learned how the architects and engineers analyzed the burned remains of the historic chapel structure and stabilized the remains for the memorial prayer garden, and what public process was required to gain consensus between Alexandria's preservation review board and the Seminary Directors for partial demolition and new construction on the 19th century Seminary campus.