Two College of Architecture and Urban Studies faculty members that have made a major impact on their students and Virginia communities, are once again receiving recognition for their work. 

In an official announcement, the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects stated, “For their extraordinary joint efforts to advance the art and science of architectural education, the society presents Marie Zawistowski with Society Honors and also recognizes Keith Zawistowski with the Award for Distinguished Achievement.”

Keith Zawistowski is one of three AIA members who will be honored with the Award for Distinguished Achievement Nov. 7 at Architecture Exchange East during the VSAIA’s Annual Meeting of the Membership and Nov. 8 during the Visions for Architecture gala at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va. 

The Award for Distinguished Achievement signals especially noteworthy achievement by an architect in any one of the following categories: design, practice, education, service as “citizen architect,” and service to the profession. This award may serve as an accolade for the work of an entire career or recognize the current accomplishments of a younger leader.

Marie Zawistowski will be recognized during the same events. Marie, who is a registered architect in France, will receive Society Honors. Society Honors are bestowed upon organizations or citizens who are not members of the AIA but who have inspired, influenced, or complemented architecture or the architecture profession in Virginia through an allied profession, research, education, planning, legislation, journalism, the arts, or crafts.

They both joined the faculty at School of Architecture + Design in 2008. In addition to teaching Professional Practice, Building Analysis, and Building Assemblies, they founded the design/buildLAB, a project-based, experiential-learning program focused on the research, development and implementation of innovative construction methods and architectural designs. 

During the two-semester course for third-year architecture majors, students collaborate with local communities and industry experts to conceive and realize built projects that are both educational and charitable in nature. The aspiration of the innovative program is to reinforce the knowledge and skills necessary to the successful and meaningful practice of architecture by removing the boundaries between academy and professional practice.

Working with the Zawistowskis, Virginia Tech students in the design/buildLAB have completed a number of notable projects that have benefitted communities in Virginia. Over the past three years, these have included the Covington Farmer’s Market, the Clifton Forge Masonic Amphitheater, and a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the amphitheater to connect two areas of Clifton Forge.

The success of their approach has led to other honors, including the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects’ 2011 Award for Excellence in Architecture and most recently, they were listed on the Public Interest Design 100, which according to the organization’s website, honors “the top 100 individuals and teams working at the intersection of design and service.” 

The Zawistowskis also received the 2011 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Grand Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy in recognition of their course in professional practice, which challenges students to be as creative in their approach to business as they are in their design work.

In 2012, they presented “Getting Real” at TEDxVirginia Tech, which focused on the process of building the Covington Farmers Market and the Clifton Forge Amphitheater and the underlying teaching philosophy behind the projects.

Keith Zawistowski, who received a bachelor’s of architecture from Virginia Tech, and Marie Zawistowski, who studied at the Ecole d’Architecture Paris Malaquais in France, met as students at Auburn University’s famed Rural Studio, which focuses on bringing practical yet elegant design to low-income communities and individuals. They credit their experience in the Rural Studio to their professional and pedagogical practices today and note that they are among the first generation of educators who have been formally educated in design-build.