Jaan Holt, professor emeritus in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and former director of the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center at Virginia Tech, was recognized by the American Institute of Architects Virginia with the Architecture Medal for Virginia Service.
The award was presented in the AIA Virginia annual awards gala in Richmond on Nov. 4.
The Architecture Medal for Virginia Service is the AIA’s most prestigious public award, honoring individuals or organizations that have made an unusually significant contribution to Virginia’s built environment or the public’s understanding and awareness of the built environment.
Holt, the Patrick and Nancy Lathrop Professor of Architecture, retired in September, culminating a 44-year career in which he taught more than 3,500 students. He co-founded the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center as the United States’ only architecture consortium program, simultaneously establishing Virginia Tech’s presence in the National Capital Region.
Holt spent six years as architecture program chair in Blacksburg and served as director of the WAAC from 1984 through 2015, drawing faculty and students from 19 other universities worldwide to study and share architecture in a global context at the center in Alexandria.
He also managed several prominent design competitions, including the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the Mall; the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Virginia; and the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. The logistical plan for Virginia Tech’s participation in the inaugural Solar Decathlon that Holt helped create in 2002 continues to influence the team’s planning and strategies seven Solar Decathlons later.
“This award resonates with the Virginia Tech motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), which I have always cherished,” Holt said. “The WAAC was founded to harbor this intent and to fully unify the three land-grant university objectives of instruction, research, and extension so fully possible at this urban location.”
Holt received his bachelor's degree in architecture from Virginia Tech and his master's degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.
“Jaan established a Virginia institution unlike any other in the world, one that has influenced the built environment not only in Virginia but well beyond its borders,” said Sean E. Reilly, AIA Northern Virginia Nomination Committee Chair, in his letter of nomination for Holt. “Jaan is a true visionary who has contributed mightily to our understanding and awareness of the built environment through this dedication to architecture and teaching.”