New Jersey native, Carl Elefante, FAIA, Inaugurated as 2018 AIA President

December 20, 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Matt Tinder, Edited by Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA


Carl Elefante, FAIA, was inaugurated as the 94th President of the AIA during ceremonies held on December 8, 2017, at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. Elefante, a principal at Quinn Evans Architects in Washington, D.C. succeeds the 93rd President, Thomas Vonier, FAIA, in representing over 90,000 AIA members.  While Carl has spent most of his adult years in the Greater Washington, D. C. area, his roots are here in the Garden State.

Image of Carl and Adriana Elefante by William Stewart Photography


From 2013 to 2015, Elefante served as regional director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council; he is also a sustainability expert who has worked closely with the AIA Committee on the Environment, the Historic Resources Committee, and the Sustainability Scan Advisory Group. He served as president of AIA Maryland in 2012 and AIA Potomac Valley in 2009. A principal at Quinn Evans Architects in Washington, D.C., Elefante received his B.Arch. from the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.


Carl grew up in New Providence, New Jersey, where he attended school; kindergarten through high school graduation. He was interested in architecture from his early teen years. As a freshman and sophomore at NPHS, the chorus performed several times at the New Jersey pavilion of the New York Worlds Fair. “The futuristic architecture at the Fair blew my mind,” Carl recalls. He also noticed that he had the image of every building and a complete sitemap etched in his mind. It gave him confidence that he had an aptitude for architecture.
As a junior and senior, Elefante worked afternoons as an intern for Drake, Tuthill, Convery, and Cueman in Summit, running blueprints on an old-school diazo printer.
“I’m sure I lost a few brain cells from the ammonia! As I recall, there were about 10 architects and 20 career draftsmen – all men. Those draftsmen were true craftsmen. There were three women, all secretaries, including the office manager who was a childhood friend of my mother.
Mr. Drake was the son of the firm’s founder. He was well into his seventies or older. To a teenager, he was ancient. Mostly, he had me find old drawings of projects from the 1920’s and 30’s. Pencil on linen.
Convery and Cueman seemed to be the forces behind the firm. Hewlett-Packard was one of their clients. The firm had several four-function digital calculators, a rare and expensive item, as evidence of the high-tech work they were doing for HP. 
The two cool, young designers were Don Chapman and Peter Bieber, two of the registered architects. Don has one of the best “hands” of any architect I’ve ever know. Both were graduates of Pratt. I had to go to Pratt, period. I did.
While a freshman at Pratt, Don and Peter invited Elefante to help them with an award submission over the holidays. They had just opened their own firm, Chapman & Bieber. Mounting photo prints to foam core with rubber cement. More brain cells lost. I completely destroyed one of the large prints with a crease the size of the Rocky Mountains right down the middle.”
                                                                 ~ Carl Elefante, FAIA
Afterwards, life took Carl on to other places, including his latest adventure at AIA.  Elefante was elected AIA President in 2016.  You can learn more about his role at the AIA here.


About The American Institute of Architects and AIA New Jersey

Founded in 1857, The American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. The organization’s local chapter, AIA New Jersey, has served as the voice of the architectural profession in the Garden State since 1900. Based in Trenton, AIA New Jersey has 2,000 members in six local sections. For more information, please visit

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