A current student at Virginia Tech, Byronaé Lewis is pursuing a Master of Architecture degree with a thesis focused on community narratives and the legacy of African American education.
My experience at a career exploration program, during High School, birthed my passion for a career in design. I look forward to using my platform to contribute to community and culturally based projects, as well as encourage the next generation of designers to enter the fields of architecture and interior design.
Celebrating Byronaé Lewis
Ever since she was a young girl, raised in Radford, Virginia, Byronaé Lewis was always passionate about being an artist. However, it was not until she entered high school that she discovered her interest in design. During her sophomore year, she attended a career exploration program hosted by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she — for the first time — designed her own project. This opportunity birthed the prospect of a career in design, and it seemed like a perfect match.
After high school, Byronaé pursued opportunities in architecture and interior design at James Madison University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architectural Design. Although her path started with little guidance, she quickly found academic and professional mentorship to help steer her towards a career. During her undergraduate studies at JMU, she was able to study abroad in Japan as well as serve as President for the student chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).
After graduation from JMU, Byronaé gained experience and knowledge about both sides of the field through architecture and interior design internships. And after two years of interning, she returned to academia to pursue a Master in Architecture at Virginia Tech.
Byronaé is currently in the last semester of her Master’s program, where she has enjoyed many incredible opportunities and experiences, including participation in the Steger Center Architecture residency program in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland as well as membership with the Virginia Tech NOMAS chapter. During the summer of 2020, she was honored to partake in the 2020 Virginia Tech NOMAS Faculty Search Committee to improve diversity within the department.
As a designer, Byronaé is interested in working with community and culturally based projects, and most recently interned with Quinn Evans, in the Culture and Heritage departments of their Washington, DC office. Byronaé's goal is to continue practicing in community-based design after she completes her degree, and hopes to become professionally licensed in both architecture and interior design over the next few years. Most importantly, Byronaé plans to use her platform to help other students, like herself, enter the field and have opportunities to travel, explore, and find their passion for design.
Her recent finished work includes “Crossing,” a mix-use project for residential, retail, and office space located in Potomac Yards, Alexandria, VA. The site consists of four buildings connected by community bridges which allow residents and locals to gather as a community.
Currently, Byronaé is working on her thesis, “Community Narratives; Christiansburg Institute.” She is proposing a redevelopment of the site to honor the legacy of 185-acre school dedicated to 100 years of African American education. Throughout the design process of her thesis, she has interviewed four alumni such that she can genuinely retell their story and use their memories to influence her design decisions.
Keep up with Byronaé’s work by visiting her website, BDMLdesign
Watch her interviews with four alumni of the Christiansburg Institute
Learn more about Virginia Tech's School of Architecture + Design
Learn more about James Madison University's School of Art, Design, and Art History