Luis Vélez-Alvarez


"I put a lot of effort into thinking through each space. There is a story behind each decision."

“I admire the overall spirit of start-up companies,” says Luis, ‘”for how they find new, creative ways to answer difficult questions.” One could say Luis is a successful start-up himself, honored as the American Institute of Architects’ 2017 Young Architect of the Year. He began his career in Puerto Rico, and proudly recalls one of his first built projects, a small-town public library. “I put a lot of effort into thinking through each space—how the natural light entered the building to light the reading spaces, how the façade complemented the street as seen from the town’s urban plaza. There was a story behind each decision.” Like any good start-up, Luis supplements his creativity and attention to detail with a good dose of perseverance. When he was young, an architect inspired Luis’ interest in the profession—and then suggested he wouldn’t be good at it. “This,” he notes, “ignited a drive in me to succeed that has not relented.”

Architectural Design

2017 Young Architect Award, American Institute of Architects (AIA); Emerging Architect Award, American Institute of Architects (AIA) -- Washington, DC Chapter (2016); Donald and Joanna Sunshine Architecture Fellow Alumni Award, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, School of Architecture + Design (2010)

Professional Credentials
American Institute of Architects (AIA), LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP)

P 202.974.0854
LinkedIn profile

Community Involvement

Luis is an active force within SmithGroupJJR’s Washington, DC office and the local community. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Washington, DC Chapter and participates in the District of Columbia Industry Association’s (DCBIA) annual Community Improvement Day. He is also a founding member of the Latin American Interior Designers, Engineers and Architects (LA.IDEA), an AIA committee created to connect Latin American design professionals in the Washington, DC area with colleagues nationwide.

Community Involvement