American Institute of Architects honors SmithGroup’s Luis Vélez-Alvarez with 2017 Young Architect Award

SmithGroup announces that Luis Vélez-Alvarez, AIA, LEED AP has received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2017 Young Architects Award.

The AIA Young Architects Award recognizes professionals who have been licensed 10 years or fewer, regardless of their age, honoring those who have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession early in their careers. 

Vélez-Alvarez is an associate and architectural designer at SmithGroup’s Washington, DC office. He first joined the firm in 2006 and contributed to the design of Mortgage Bankers Association’s 170,000-square-foot headquarters building at 1331 L Street, NW. During that time, he was also active in several professional organizations, including the Washington Architectural Foundation’s Architecture in Schools program, the District of Columbia Building Industry Association’s annual Community Improvement Day, and CANstruction, a nonprofit food charity known worldwide for its signature “cansculptures.”

In 2009, Vélez-Alvarez left SmithGroup to take a role as a visiting assistant professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s School of Architecture and Design, where he taught first-year design students. While there, he developed an original curriculum for his courses, instilling an emphasis on design process and innovative thinking in this teachings.

Since rejoining SmithGroup in 2011, Vélez-Alvarez has contributed to the design of several significant projects for client Carr Properties, such as its new, 189,000-square-foot office and retail development located at the intersection of Wilson and Clarendon boulevards, Arlington, Virginia; and its award-winning building at 1700 New York Ave., NW in Washington, DC.

Vélez-Alvarez was recently honored with the 2016 “Emerging Architect” award from the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC). His service to AIA|DC includes playing an integral role in founding the Latin American Interior Designers, Engineers and Architects committee and membership in the inaugural class of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program.  Additionally, he recently served as associate representative on the AIA|DC board of directors.  

Vélez-Alvarez graduated with a Master of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, preceded by a Bachelor in Environmental Design from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.

A native of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Vélez-Alvarez is currently a resident of New Carrollton, Maryland.

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.

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