Capt. Eric J. Hawn, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington commanding officer, announced the selection of Theresa Perala, architect and design manager, as the Architect of the Year, Nov 28. Perala is the inaugural selection of this new award and was chosen from a competitive field of NAVFAC Washington architects, landscape architects, and interior designers.
“Theresa is an essential technical resource, masterfully serving as a design manager and architect on high-visibility complex projects throughout the NAVFAC Washington area of responsibility,” said Capt. Hawn. “A trusted leader with experience and resourcefulness, she provides creative solutions to ensure project success. She is an indispensable team member and mentor.”
Perala has served at NAVFAC Washington for over 14 years as an architect, project leader, design manager, program manager, and branch supervisor.
“I feel very humbled and happy that I was selected as Architect of the Year for NAVFAC Washington,” said Perala. “At the same time, it is exciting to know that NAVFAC has created this new category and future opportunities now exist for those within these areas of expertise to compete for the award. I understand NAVFAC is primarily an engineering command, but architects, landscape architects, and interior designers are a big part of helping NAVFAC meet its mission to design, construct, and maintain many facilities in the region and around the world.”
Among many successful efforts over the last year, Perala expertly led a cost-savings charrette for Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences Building F, a $460 million construction project in the pre-award stage. Through significant cost reduction strategies totaling $100 million, she maintained distinguished architectural design integrity and met the critical mission requirements of the customer.
“By the time the charrette was conducted, the project was placed on hold with a 65% design already completed,” said Perala. “I worked with the customer from the Uniformed Services University, representatives from Defense Health Agency (DHA), design team of HKS-WSP JV, and the NAVFAC Washington team within a very short time to have a completed report that was provided to program decision makers at the DHA. Working with all the project stakeholders during the charrette was a very energizing process to help develop the possible design strategies with significant cost reductions.”
Perala, who hails from Harford County, Md., earned a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Thomas Jefferson University), in Pennsylvania. She earned registered architect status in Kentucky, holds a certificate from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and is a member of the American Institute of Architects.
Perala’s work philosophy is to perform with integrity and address each project task with thoughtfulness and consideration of a customer’s requirements and timeline. She is an advocate for leading by example and embracing mistakes as learning experiences rather than failures. She also understands the value of working in a diverse team across disciplines.
“Being a part of NAVFAC Washington and working with the diverse group of professionals, both military and civilian, across the different business and support lines has also been truly rewarding to me and has helped shape the person I’ve become,” said Perala. "My chain of command has consistently supported and empowered me to challenge myself, mentor colleagues, and work on projects that are challenging while fostering professional growth. I am extremely appreciative of the confidence they have in me as a person, and my capabilities as an architect.”
Perala grew up in a large family, being one of six kids, and credits her siblings and parents for having helped keep her grounded. She currently lives in Northern Virginia and enjoys long-distance running, hiking, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities alongside her husband of 28 years.