Citizen Architect Profile: Chris Kepes, AIA

Chris Kepes, AIA, with Village of Fairfax Planning Commission

Sole Proprietor of KepesArchitecture

What is the purpose of the organization where you are involved? 

It is a zoning commission so the purpose is to review and make decisions on whether or not to allow zoning variances, whether or not to approve PUD (Planned Unit Development) proposals and to, at times, adjust or even rewrite sections of the zoning code. 

Why did you choose to get involved? 

Three reasons. 1) it was an opportunity to volunteer and serve others with my professional expertise; 2) it was an opportunity to influence and hopefully improve the local built environment; 3) I thought it might raise my visibility as an architect in the area.

How does your experience as an architect contribute to the commission? 

As an architect I have an educated sense/understanding of space and approach and proximity that other commission members usually don’t. I also know how design happens, obviously.

How has serving in this role benefits you as an architect? 

It has helped me to understand more about commercial development and how and why zoning codes get written the way they do. 

How much time and effort does your role require? 

Meetings are fairly rare in our community recently; perhaps three a year. Some years there have been many more than that. I have been a commission member since the early 2000s. I am not aware of any term limit. 

Would you encourage other architects to get involved in similar commissions? 

Yes! One of the great opportunities we as architects have is to influence and improve our built environment. This would be another way to do that and learn more about one’s local community at the same time.


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