Unable to meet in person, VAF held its first virtual conference on May 9, 2020. Presenters gave 28 papers in three concurrent sessions, assisted by Zoom. The presentations were prerecorded but the question-and-answer periods were live—and lively. In addition, VAF had planned its first-ever poster session for this year, so that too was moved to virtual. Eight presenters posted their PDFs, then had live discussions with viewers. The viewers turned out, with 345 people registering for the conference, including 64 students, and 123 attended the conference as guest members. The sessions were informative, intriguing, and stimulating, reassuring us that good work is still being done and shared.
As with much of what VAF does, volunteers made it happen. Brent Fortenberry marshaled the resources of Texas A&M and served as the host and mastermind. Andrew Dolkart chaired the papers, Phil Gruen organized the posters, and Zach Violette worked out the logistics. Hayley Field and Nicole O’Donnell, along with Brent, provided technical support for each session. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of these VAFers!
While many of the essential parts of a VAF conference did not occur—such as seeing a real building, touring a new landscape, catching up with old friends, eating local food (and shouldn’t there have been a margarita in there?)—the virtual conference proved that VAFers are smart, dedicated, flexible, and insightful about the built environment. Thanks to all who participated. We are looking forward to the conference next year and hope to see you all there.
Kim Hoagland, Second Vice President, VAF