Virginia Foundation for Architecture, Inc.
2501 Monument Avenue
Richmond VA 23220-2618
Mission Statement

To reveal the inherent beauty of the created form and space, igniting a passion for design.

We accomplish this through innovative exhibitions, educational programs and partnerships that elevate the understanding of design and its influence on our lives. As a preeminent design museum housed in an architectural treasure, we are both a destination and a resource for the investigation of form and function. 



CEO/Executive Director Helene Combs Dreiling FAIA
Board Chair Mr. William S. Talley AIA
Board Chair Company Affiliation Gensler
Contact Information
Address 2501 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA 232202618
Telephone 804 644-3041
Fax 804 643-4607
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1958
Former Names
Virginia Foundation for Architectural Education, Inc.1987
Virginia Center for Architecture2015
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $961,000.00
Projected Expenses $895,489.00

To reveal the inherent beauty of the created form and space, igniting a passion for design.

We accomplish this through innovative exhibitions, educational programs and partnerships that elevate the understanding of design and its influence on our lives. As a preeminent design museum housed in an architectural treasure, we are both a destination and a resource for the investigation of form and function. 



Impact Accomplishments:


-Reached an increasing number of students to elevate appreciation of architecture.
-Created four statewide education programs reaching an extended public audience.
-Offered a spectrum of exhibitions, lectures, educational opportunities, and tours.


-Negotiated a renewed lending relationship with more favorable loan arrangement and terms.
-Established three additional endowment funds for preservation, education, and operations.
-Cultivated stronger alliances with key constituent groups and related cultural    organizations.


-Developed a strategy for replacement, repair, and maintenance of our historic home.
-Continued the window conservation campaign and conducted specific restorations.
-Shepherded an SUP amendment process collaboratively with neighbors and City of Richmond.


1)       Finances and Fundraising: Stabilize financial operations, resulting in net positive income to support debt reduction and a sustainable positive cash position, while increasing contributions received from fundraising activities.

2)      Programs and Exhibitions: Continue to offer a selection of exceptional exhibitions and associated programs for the benefit of members of the architecture profession, the design and construction industry, and the greater public throughout the state.

3)      Staffing: Reduce staffing costs while minimizing negative impact on fundraising, operation of the property, and execution of the Center’s programs.

4)      Facility Rentals: Appropriately maximize the income stream derived from the short- and long-term rental of the property and its indoor and outdoor spaces.

5)      Alliances: Strengthen relationships with representative neighborhood organizations to bolster the benefits of the Center to the community and leverage alliances with strategic partners to extend the reach of Center programs to a larger audience.

In order to sustain the current strength of programs (highly regarded architectural exhibits and well-attended educational offerings) and maintain the architectural integrity of the Center’s historic ‘home’ in the Branch House, needs for 2013 focus on financial stability:
Debt Reduction: The Center carries a debt of approximately $2.0 million, and the financial package concludes in May 2012 with a balloon payment of $2.06 million. This debt service and debt burden is limiting and represents the highest priority for 2013.
Cash Flow: The 2011 Business Plan developed in December 2010 projects a net income that can be used to retire debt and that plan has been adhered to through four solid quarters of development activity and other actions to derive the expected cash results from the plan.
Fundraising: Prior to 2009, fundraising totals for any given year approached the $1 million mark, while funds raised the last two years were a fraction of that figure. Dedicated attention to fundraising is the next priority and aggressive targets will be set and pursued.
 The Virginia Center for Architecture (VCA) opened in April 2005 as an exciting and unique architecture museum as one of the first such institutions of its kind in the nation. The Center, located within the stately “Branch House” on Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue, quickly became a model for other architecture centers to emulate. There are now nearly twenty such centers across the United States, institutions that are dedicated to promoting an understanding of architecture through a museum setting. However, with its 28,000 square foot Tudor-revival mansion home designed by notable architect John Russell Pope, the VCA remains the largest and most preeminent.
The Center is focused on serving a statewide targeted audience of architecture students and institutions of higher education; cultural, civic, and preservation communities; members of the design and construction industry; K-12 teachers and schools; public officials; urban and community planners and developers; and those interested in lifelong learning. Also, as an architectural treasure in the historic Fan and Museum districts, the Center also serves the general Richmond public and regional tourists. 
The Virginia Center for Architecture has the presence -- both physically and programmatically -- to elevate the public’s awareness of and appreciation for architecture and architects. Through a host of creative and inspiring programs, the Center offers opportunities for Virginians to explore the transformative power and critical importance of architecture through exhibitions, educational programs, publications, lectures, symposia, scholarships, sponsored research, the Museum Shop, and tours of its restored historic landmark home - a museum in its own right. The Virginia Center for Architecture illustrates that historic preservation is not only about considering yesterday, but is also about understanding today and guiding tomorrow. The Branch House represents both its time and its place in history, but as the Center, it is artfully readapted to serve the needs and uses of a new public.
In 2015, the VCA took a monumental step by expanding it's mission to include all facets of design, and affirm our status as a museum by renaming to The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. 
CEO Statement
 I was quite excited to take on the challenge of serving as the Virginia Center for Architecture’s new Executive Director beginning in January 2011. With a mission I have fully supported, both personally as an architect and professionally throughout my career, ensuring the Center's success has truly become my priority.
Since its founding in 1954, the Virginia Foundation for Architecture has led by example in the development of scholarship programs and later, into a broader educational agenda and property ownership. With the purchase of the Branch House and the subsequent transformation into the Virginia Center for Architecture, this legacy of leadership has continued as the VCA became one of the first centers for architecture in the United States. By building strong relationships with members of the architecture profession, the design and construction industry, and private citizens who love architecture, I expect the Center to continue its leadership in these emerging enterprises.
More locally, as an institution focused on architecture and design within the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Center has established a reputation that we shall continue to build upon. With dozens of exhibitions since its opening in 2005 and many more dozens of public programs, the Center has shown that architecture embodies a firm understanding of the past while simultaneously demonstrating an ability to envision the future. This capacity is unique, and our communities everywhere depend on the kind of public understanding and appreciation of architecture that the Center fosters as its main mission.
The greatest challenge for the institution has been identifying and obtaining regular and significant funding. Without proper financial underpinning, the exemplary exhibits and programs - let alone preservation of an historic property - cannot be maintained or sustained. Under my direction, the VCA has developed a comprehensive fundraising strategy that includes public and private divisions, taking full advantage of the potential for federal and state support as well as requesting private gifts from philanthropic foundations; corporations, businesses, and firms; and individuals.   These target audiences reach well beyond the design and construction industry, since the Center’s mission is grounded in elevating the greater public’s understanding and awareness of architecture's tremendous influence in our lives … through its physical and programmatic presence. 
~ Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, Executive Director
Board Chair Statement

Dear Richmond Philanthropic Community:

 It is my honor to be the 2014 Chair of the Virginia Center for Architecture's Board of Trustees. In over a decade as a trustee of the VCA I have endeavored to use my passion for architecture in the service of the VCA's mission, particularly in the area of program development.

 The Center is very fortunate to have Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, as Executive Director. Helene’s arrival brought forth a new era for the Center, with a new energy, focus, and vision, and truly set the Center on a dedicated course that promises to continue to enhance our programming and increase our financial viability. Her expertise and leadership, along with the collective accomplishments of our dedicated board and talented staff, have led to several significant advances over the past three years:

• Extended outreach across the state through targeted visits in Northern Virginia and Norfolk, with additional visits planned for 2014

• Enriched neighborhood relationships and stature as a result of careful diplomacy through the Special Use Permit Amendment process

• Enhanced financial stability as a result of a re-negotiated loan agreement with our lending institution, BB&T

 The VCA Board of Trustees is a diverse composition of individuals with different backgrounds and skill sets. It is not comprised solely of architects, but includes experts in finance, business, and construction, as well as civic-minded individuals. Additionally, the members of the Board of Trustees are not just Richmond-based, but come from all areas of the state; the balance is perfect for us as we pursue fulfilling our organizational purpose and goals.

 This visionary group voted in May to broaden the mission of the Virginia Center for Architecture to include design. Our augmented mission will allow us to deepen our programmatic 'presence' by expanding programming to reach a larger audience in Richmond and beyond through more diverse lectures, traveling exhibitions, architectural tours, and shared content. Of course, this is in addition to our concentration on being good stewards of our notable home, the Branch House, our physical 'presence.' Special projects currently underway include meticulous conservation of the 500-plus windows throughout the house, along with replacing our antiquated heating and cooling equipment with a highly-efficient sustainable system.

 Your generous philanthropic support not only affords us important opportunities to maintain and preserve our famous historic home, but also allows us to engage, educate, and serve the public through a diverse array of offerings. Our goal is to provide excellent and innovative programming that will continue to educate, entertain, inspire, and challenge those within our community and the region. We hope you will be a part of it.

Peyton Boyd, FAIA 
Chair, VCA Board of Trustees
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. William S. Talley AIA
Company Affiliation Gensler
Term Dec 2015 to Dec 2016
Board of Directors
Board Members
Sally Brown Community Volunteer
Laura B. Cameron Community Volunteer
Stephen A. Caudle Community Volunteer
James H. Cochrane Jr., Assoc. AIACochrane Design and Development
Stephen A. Coor Hon VSAIARiverside Brick and Supply
Mary P. Cox FAIAVirginia Commonwealth University
John H. Crouse AIAHankins and Anderson
Samuel W. Daniel Daniel & Company, Inc.
Walter M. Dotts, III Old House Authority
Helene Combs Dreiling FAIAThe Virginia Center for Architecture
Lori Garrett AIA, LEEDGlave & Holmes
Richard Wells Gresham AIA, LEED APE.T. Gresham Company, Inc.
Kathryn T. Prigmore FAIA, NCARB, NOMA. CDTHDR Architecture, Inc.
David Shields VCU
Robert A. Steele AIABeyond Ordinary Boundaries Architecture, PC
William S. Talley AIAOdell Associates, Inc.
Thomas T. Winborne AIAClark-Nexsen, PC
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 16
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 11
Female 6
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 80
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 25
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Program / Program Planning
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
We are pleased to have increased our Bylaws-directed Board size from 24 to 25 persons in 2013.  
Executive Director
Executive Director Helene Combs Dreiling FAIA

Professional Experience

01.2011 - present: The Virginia Center for Architecture | Executive Director: Chief executive for museum and historic property, dedicated to developing the understanding of architecture and its influence on our lives, our communities, and our world through exhibitions, public programs, special events, and publications.

11.2009 - present: The Plum Studio, Ltd. | Roanoke, VA | President: Managing Principal of a specialty firm with expertise in architecture and design, program management, association/non-profit planning and facilitation, organizational consulting, fund-raising and grant-seeking, business writing, and artistic commerce.

04.2000 - 11.2009: The American Institute of Architects | Washington, DC:

6.2007 - 11.2009: Managing Director, Component Relations: Oversight of communications and service delivery to 280+ state and local components (chapters) including support of component leadership and executives, overseeing Grassroots Leadership Conference annually, and developing collaborative documents. 

09.2006 - 06.2007: Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Relationships: Member of Executive Team with overall management of AIA150 (the AIA’s sesquicentennial observance), the AIA’s strategic     initiatives (sustainability and integrated project delivery), and advancing relationships with the collaterals and related groups.

08.2002 - 09.2006: Team Vice President, AIA Community: Member of Executive Team, liaising with Board group as well as managing four AIA staff departments supporting member aspects of the AIA: Component Relations, Membership Services, Communities by Design, and Alliances; briefly included Government Relations.

04.2000 - 08.2002: Managing Director, Stakeholder Relations: Responsible for supporting member constituent groups, nurturing emerging professionals through programs/services/committee structures, bridging to architecture education, and cultivating alliances with collaterals and related professional groups. 

01.1989 - 04.2000: The Dreiling Partnership Architects, PC | Roanoke, VA | President: Managing Principal of a small, woman-owned business enterprise with expertise in residential remodeling and additions, custom homes, religious facilities, and small commercial projects; and expanded services in programming and technical writing.

06.1986 - 01.1989: Smithey & Boynton, PC | Roanoke, VA | Project Architect: Responsible for facilities planning, presentation preparation, feasibility studies, and programming for a large architectural and engineering firm specializing in educational and institutional work.

03.1984 - 06.1986: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation | Williamsburg, VA | Space Planner & Project Architect: Duties included supervising alterations to the Foundation’s 300,000+ square-feet of office space in both historic buildings and support facilities for the Architecture and Engineering Department.

Former CEOs
Jean W. Bower May 2009 - Dec 2010
John W. Braymer PhD, Hon VSAIANov 1986 - Mar 2009
Full Time Staff 2
Part Time Staff 2
Volunteers 30
Contractors 9
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 2
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Jan 2011
Management Succession Plan? Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
The Branch has worked diligently to enhance the existing relationships held with many partnering organizations, most importantly the Monument Avenue Preservation Society and the Fan District Association.  Additionally, we now have several formal student programs underway with Virginia Commonwealth University, with the Maggie Walker Governors School, and with the Math Science Innovation Center.  Other opporunities to create program- or project-based strategic alliances with related arts and cultural organizations are being explored.
Modeled after the decade-long, highly popular "Shape of Texas" series, we are commencing a "Shape of Virginia" radio series spotlighting a different, significant Virginia building in each of the 2-minute weekly radio spots to be aired on public radio starting Winter 2012.  Eventually, this will be expanded to video spots that would be offered over You Tube and other social media.
Population Served General/Unspecified
Budget $0.00
We are presently identifying a series of projects throughout the state for which the VCA can serve as faclitator, integrator, and connector to provide a significant architectural "intervention" using a public/private partnership approach - on projects that might otherwise not be realized if shepherded solely by the local municipality.
Population Served General/Unspecified
Budget $0.00
Working with a Richmond-based sustainable design consultant, we are developing a series of symposia to be hosted at the Center, targeted to smaller municipalities and counties around the state that wish to operate sustainably but do not have the funds to hire an outside consultant to provide the expertise specific to their area.  In this series, attendees will be exposed to a wide spectrum of recommendations and suggestions - from small actions to highly complex solutions - to 'green' their development, buildings, grounds, and operations.
Population Served General/Unspecified
Based on successful school tours and education programs in the past, we are formulating a specialized full curriculum of education focused on eighth graders to facilitate Standards of Learning metrics through education on architectural theory, history, and practice IN VIRGINIA, as well as sustainable design and livable communities; one program has been held, with a goal of hosting 180 annually by the year 2014, our 60th anniversary.
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $250,000.00
CEO/ED/Board Comments
We at the Virginia Center for Architecture are working diligently - and successfully - to stabilize our current financial position, offer expanded programming and outreach, and provide for our institution's future security.  The Board of Trustees and staff have taken significant steps to assure that the Center is solid and sure by accomplishing much in the broad areas of financial health, fundraising, outreach across state, strategic alliances, exhibitions/programs, public outreach, and historic preservation.
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $961,000.00
Projected Expenses $895,489.00
Endowment Value $460,000.00
Spending Policy N/A
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$317,912$443,332$85,010
Administration Expense$77,607$419,309$116,910
Fundraising Expense$160,338$1,000$127,631
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.560.971.17
Program Expense/Total Expenses57%51%26%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue82%0%45%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$2,909,202$4,437,345$2,912,341
Current Assets$2,511,698$235,393$2,505,001
Long-Term Liabilities--$1,881,935--
Current Liabilities$425,957$217,058$323,665
Total Net Assets$2,483,245$2,338,352$2,588,676
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities5.901.087.74
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%42%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Campaign Purpose The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, aka “The Branch”, will transform the cultural landscape of Richmond as it fills the gap in the cultural and educational experience in the region. As a preeminent museum in the U.S. dedicated to design, it will be perfectly housed in the historic Branch House. This world-class museum will host touring and curated exhibits that celebrate the importance of design in everything from architecture to household goods to landscape and graphics, or simply “functional art” – all things we use in our daily lives. The museum’s permanent exhibit will focus on the evolution of design, showing how the historical informs the present and future. The Branch is already partnering with K-20 educators to align with standards of learning (SOLs), encourage the growth of interest in STEM subjects as they relate to design, and workforce development.
Goal $10,000,000.00
Dates Apr 2015 to Dec 2020
Amount Raised To Date $780,000.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2015View
Organization Comments
According to the Board-developed strategic plan and budget projection that were adopted in January, we are ahead on all revenues and receipts - in some cases by 100% - 500%:
1) Increased exposure: With over 7,000 unique visitors in 2012- not counting those attending weddings and special events not sponsored by the Center - the VCA has had more traffic than at any time since the opening weeks: these include Historic Garden Week and Stride Through Time.
2) Making the mortgage: A series of programs and initiatives have been instituted to elevate the monthly income for the Center and provide coverage for the monthly mortgage payment:
   - Leasing all Third Floor spaces as incubator offices for those transitioning from a home office into prime office space; through this approach, the Center garners nearly double the rental income that it would for a single tenant.
   - With over seven inquiries a week for use of the facility, the number of special events and the resulting income have increased over 100% at this same time last year.
   - A monthly luncheon series designed for a public audience are in place and include an entry fee.
   - Tours of the historic home commenced in October 2012,  for a fee.
3) Meeting the balloon payment: In order to be prepared for the balloon payment due next May in association with the mortgage, a number of steps are being taken to mitigate the impact of this one-time expense.  Major patrons and benefactors are being sought for naming opportunities for prime galleries and other spaces within the building. 
Foundation Comments
  • IRS Form 990s represent the financial position of the Virginia Foundation for Architecture.
  • Audited financial statements represent the combined financial position of both the Virginia Foundation for Architecture and its subsidiary, the Branch House.