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Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC)

Explore the city as a laboratory with architecture and urban design programs for undergraduate and graduate students

Since 1980, the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center has served as an urban extension of the Virginia Tech School of Architecture. The WAAC began with a straightforward mission: to use the city as a laboratory and classroom, an immersive environment in which to learn about architecture, the city, and life.  

Located in historic Alexandria, VA, less than eight miles from Washington, DC, the WAAC offers a unique professional learning environment with an interdisciplinary, international, individual focus. Our pedagogy emphasizes freedom and responsibility as partners in ethical design practice. Students have the freedom to choose their own studio and thesis projects, then take on the responsibility to realize those projects. We inspire students to chart their own career paths and become the architects or urban designers they want to become.

Students seated in discussion groups outside in the WAAC courtyard

How to Study at the WAAC

The WAAC accepts master's and doctoral students, in addition to undergraduate students in their fourth or fifth years of study.

The WAAC offers four graduate degree tracks.  Students in these programs may complete their full course of study here in Alexandria, without ever traveling to Blacksburg.

  • M.Arch 2
  • MS.Arch, Urban Design Concentration
  • MS.Arch, History and Theory Concentration
  • PhD in Architecture and Design Research

Learn more about these degrees this page of the School of Architecture site. Refer to the Graduate Admissions page for information on application requirements and the graduate application process.

Students in the M.Arch 3 program may attend the WAAC at thesis level, after completing the first two years of the program in Blacksburg. If you’re a current VT graduate student and would like to transfer to the WAAC, please contact your advisors for more information.

If you’re a Virginia Tech B.Arch student and would like to spend one or more semesters at the WAAC, please e-mail the following information to Stephanie Woodson at


Your Name
VT E-Mail Address
Academic Level: [4th-year or 5th-year]
Semester(s) You Plan to Attend the WAAC

At the WAAC, I’ll Require:
Integrative Building Design Studio [Y/N]
Building Cities [Y/N]
Ideas, Concepts, and Representations [Y/N]

Fourth-year students in the VT BLA program may attend the WAAC for a single fall semester! Contact Stephanie or your advisor for details.

Entry to the WAAC is non-competitive for undergraduates, so once we’ve received your information, we’ll automatically add you to our list of upcoming WAAC students. If you later decide not to attend the WAAC, you must notify Stephanie of your change of plans. It’s important that we know whether or not you’re coming, so we can keep our records and your tuition statement up to date!

Be aware that this sign-up process is only for current VT undergraduate students. If you’re a current Blacksburg graduate student and would like to transfer to the WAAC, please contact your advisors for more information. If you would like to enroll at the WAAC as a new graduate student, you must apply through the VT Graduate School.

The WAAC is a member of the National Student Exchange, which allows design students from across the US and Canada to spend a semester or year at the WAAC. International exchange students may study at the WAAC through special agreements between their home institutions and VT. If you're interested in attending our center as an exchange student, and aren't already enrolled at one of our partner schools, feel free to reach out to Stephanie Woodson in the WAAC office at

View Work from Our Students!


2-dimensional and 3-dimensional artworks on display in a classroom with a red accent wall


The WAAC allows students to address the complexities of urban areas, using the Washington metropolitan area as a resource laboratory for design and research. All of our facilities are located within the Old Town district of Alexandria, VA, within a historic urban campus. 

1001 Prince Street has become the embodiment of the pedagogy of the WAAC. Originally built as a school in the early 20th century, the building experienced first abandonment, then adaptive re-use as an office building before becoming a home for the WAAC in 1991. Since then, faculty and students have dismantled, altered, augmented, inserted, and reconfigured the building in an ongoing exercise of design/build and stewardship. These acts of construction are tightly situational: a cantilevered balcony for a particular kind of piano; a stacked and corbelled plywood stair connecting the two levels of the library; a secret room with a table made from the old library second floor beams.

1001 Prince contains the WAAC’s administrative offices, faculty offices, classrooms, and studio space. It also houses our library, computer lab, printers/plotters, laser cutters, and darkroom.

The Greg Hunt Library is located in 1001 Prince Street building and is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm, Monday through Friday. Note that our library collection is non-circulating: students may use books within the library, but may not take them home.

Virginia Tech WAAC students and employees may access additional books via the Inter-Library Loan (ILL) system. Use your ILL account to check out books from the VT University Libraries catalog, or from other affiliated libraries.

You may contact our WAAC library assistants at or (571) 858-3280.

WAAC Library Catalog

VT Library Catalog

1021 Prince Street was first constructed as an office building in the 1980s. Once acquired by Virginia Tech, it served as the Northern Virginia headquarters of the VT School of Public and International Affairs until 2019, when the property became part of the WAAC. Although not yet renovated for studio use, 1021 contains student workspace; adjunct and PhD offices; and of course, the WAAC wood and metal workshop.

Four students and a professor smiling in a row on a field trip to Roosevelt Island. A landscape of woods and marsh is visible behind them.

Student Activities

The WAAC hosts its own school chapter of the AIAS, the American Institute of Architecture Students. Run for students, by students, this organization provides helpful networking opportunities and conducts a variety of events throughout the year, including lectures, career fairs, and portfolio reviews. WAAC students, be sure to regularly check your e-mail and attend our all-school Weekly Forums for updates from the AIAS!

Instagram: @aiaswaac

The WAAC Band agrees with Vitruvius: “The architect should be equipped with knowledge of many branches of study and varied kinds of learning. Music also the architect ought to understand so that he may have the knowledge of the canonical and mathematical theory, and besides be able to tune ballistae, catapultae, and scorpiones to the proper key.” We are a band of faculty and students who tune canonical and mathematical ballistae.

If you’re interested in contributing to the WAAC Band, please contact Susan Piedmont-Palladino at for more information. You may also visit us on Facebook.

Members of the Firm Advisory Board seated around a conference table built of reclaimed wooden beams, in the WAAC library Secret Room

Firm Advisory Board

The WAAC Firm Advisory Board is open by invitation to a select group of design firms in the Washington metropolitan region and meets regularly to exchange ideas about the ways in which academia and the profession can work together on all the wicked problems facing the world.

Current Members

  • Bill Brown, AIA, Moseley Architects
  • Michael Burton, AIA, Urban Design Group
  • Bill Conkey, City of Alexandria, VA
  • Maggie Dunlap, Winstanley Architects
  • Michael Foster, FAIA, MTFA
  • Jon Kraft, Kimley-Horn and Associates
  • Matt MacDonald, AIA, MCDStudio
  • Ani Mencke, Moseley Architects
  • Lee Quill, FAIA, Cunningham Quill Architects
  • Marium Rahman, KGD
  • Rick Schneider, FAIA, ISTUDIO Architects
  • Anh Tran, AIA, Design Force
  • Jaime Van Mourik, US Department of Energy

Legacy Members

  • Ameneh Amirhakimi, MVA-ARCH
  • ClaClaire Bedat, US Department of State
  • Al Cox, FAIA
  • Maury Saunders, AIA, MSStudioarchitecture, LLC
  • Steve Small, US Federal Government
  • Brian Sykes, AIA, Perkins + Will
  • Kristopher Takacs, AIA, SOM
  • Stephen Koenig, SWK Architects
  • Ziad Demian, AIA, Demian Wilbur Architects
  • Manoj Dalaya, FAIA, KGD
A class on the grassy lawn outside the Kennedy Center REACH expansion

Contact the WAAC

Please e-mail Stephanie Woodson, administrative and program coordinator, at for general inquiries or requests to schedule a visit.

Follow the WAAC on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook.

Three attendees of the Frascari Symposium 6 observing artwork on a classroom wall

Make a Gift to the WAAC

Donate directly to the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center. Enter the amount you would like to donate, then follow the prompts on the form to complete the process.

All of us at the WAAC – students, staff, and faculty alike – thank you for your generous support!

Students and faculty posed for a group photo at the front entrance of 1001 Prince Street