25 Years of Leadership: Celebrating Ilia M. Ríos’ Legacy at V Architecture

March commemorates the invaluable contributions of women throughout history, and among those luminaries stands Ilia M. Ríos, V Architecture’s President and a trailblazer in Puerto Rico’s construction industry. A licensed architect, fearless team leader, strategic manager, and doer, Ilia joined the firm on March 23, 1999, and in 2003, became a partner and was elevated to President and Managing Principal. For the past 25 years, she has closely collaborated with Founding Principals José A. Rodríguez Barceló and Ricardo Jiménez in all phases of the firm. Ilia started as a junior designer, benefiting from the mentorship of these experienced architects. Eventually, she progressed to becoming a senior leader and partner alongside them. Above all, their relationship has evolved beyond mere professional ties to become family.

Ilia M. Ríos is a seasoned architectural professional with an impressive 27-year journey in the field. Her architectural career started at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture. Upon returning to her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ilia’s career flourished at Figueroa & Figueroa Arquitectos. A pivotal point in her journey came when she joined Jiménez & Rodriguez Barceló, AIA (JRB). After a short time at the firm, JRB was selected as the Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC) project designer, one that Ilia would play a significant role in and impact the course of her professional career.

With the success of PRCC in 2003, JRB transitioned to V Architecture with the vision of providing continuity to the firm and transcending generations. Then, Ilia became a partner and was named President of V Architecture. With a continued zeal for the industry, Ilia thrived and took V Architecture to new heights, resulting in dozens of projects in various fields. The signature projects developed in the last decades are the Sabanera Health Center, Distrito T-Mobile, and the Puerto Rico Convention Center. In 2022, she launched V Interiors, a studio of V Architecture with a focus on interior design.

“I am honored to have been part of our family for 25 years and to serve as President and Managing Principal of an exemplary team of professionals whom I love and believe in wholeheartedly. Since day one, I’ve had a holistic understanding of our business, and I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the team,” shares Ilia.

Ilia’s accolades include being recognized as a Distinguished Woman in the Construction Industry in 2007 by the San Juan Star, as a Woman to Watch in 2014 by Caribbean Business, and participating as co-author of the Reframing Perspectives Book sponsored by Women Who Lead launched in October 2023. She is deeply embedded in the community and is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Academia María Reina, a Catholic college preparatory school for girls in San Juan.

An enthusiastic advocate of education, Ilia supervises the NCARB Architectural Experience Program, where she has worked with over 20 architects in training and founded the V Architecture Mentorship & Internship Programs. She is certified as a licensed architect in the state of Puerto Rico and is an Accredited Professional in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) with a specialty in Building Design and Construction (BD+C), and holds a Construction Documents Technologist Certificate (CDT) awarded by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI).

Her visionary leadership, transformative design, clear communication, and empathy continue to shape V Architecture and the architectural landscape of Puerto Rico, leaving an enduring legacy of innovation, excellence, and community impact. Congratulations, Ilia, and we look forward to the generations working together.