Young V Mentorship 2024: Lighting a Spark in the Bright Minds of Tomorrow

V Architecture hosted the annual Young V Mentorship program for aspiring architects and designers in Puerto Rico. Our renowned design firm recognizes the importance of nurturing future talent through this innovative initiative. Our V Mentorship program fosters a culture of development for vibrant and skilled future design professionals within the island, aligning with V Architecture’s commitment to cultural enrichment through the V Legacy family of initiatives.

The V Mentorship program pairs aspiring architects and designers with experienced professionals within the #VArch team. These mentors offer invaluable guidance and support, helping mentees develop their technical skills, design sensibilities, and professional understanding. Through hands-on experience on real-world projects, mentees gain a practical perspective on the design process, from initial concept development to project completion. This exposure allows them to refine their technical skills in areas like drafting, rendering, and construction documentation. “This is not just a series of visits to our office and projects; our mentorship is a well-structured program with the participation of more than 20 of our architects who have studied in different public and private schools in and out of Puerto Rico. The variety of perspectives and the depth of knowledge shared make it a unique program. We are very proud of this effort and its impact,” explains V Architecture President Ilia Rios.

Beyond technical expertise, the V Mentorship program fosters a collaborative and supportive environment. Mentees benefit from mentorship sessions, where they can discuss career aspirations, hone their design thinking, and receive valuable feedback on their ideas. Additionally, the program cultivates a sense of community by organizing lectures, and field visits, exposing mentees to diverse design approaches and industry leaders.

Every year, our intensive two-week program immerses students in the design and construction industry, offering hands-on activities that demystify the process from concept to creation. Through a jam-packed agenda, students gain a deeper understanding and ignite their passion for design.

The program started on Monday June 10th with an introduction to V Architecture from our Founding Partner, José A. Rodríguez Barceló, and our President & Managing Partner, Ilia M. Ríos followed by a tour of our “Casona”.  Immediately afterwards an overview of the schools of architecture and the different programs was conducted by our three Academia María Reina Alumni, Jessica Díaz, Rebeca Irizarry and Anaida Ríos.  We closed the day with a project overview of Banco Popular Campus, our largest project currently on hand.

We started the second day with a technical overview of the building information management (BIM) program by Edwin de La Cruz and Omar Merced, two of our licensed architects and BIM Manager and Leader.  The mentees were then treated to a virtual model presentation of the Banco Popular Campus project followed by a site visit the next day were mentees had a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see the constructions of the Bridge Building expected to be completed in November 2024.



During the week, participants also received an exclusive inside look at other projects that currently in early design phases, thanks to the involvement of Nayda Berlingeri, and Adriana Ostolaza, inspired to help the students understand the design and planning dynamics behind projects such as the Banco Popular Fitness and Wellness Center and others.  The mentees also had to opportunity to be invited to a client Schematic Design Presentation which for most of them was the highlight of the program.

Week 2  started off with the project overview of the Hilton Dual Brand and a presentation on the Mesón projects, managed by Marialy Pérez and Yamil Torres – serving as a great example of one of the many long-standing client relationships at the office. Students also had an insightful conversation about brand development, which was led by Rebecca Irizarry and Kish Báez.



Another afternoon was focused on our V Interiors Studio and an an overview of our extensive interiors capabilities, hosted by the V Interiors team – Edgardo Vela, Anaida Ríos and Frances David – followed by a wonderful presentation about the value and importance of Hand Sketch and Design led by Rafi Lugo. Ilia Rios explains, “I think that in a world where technology is embraced and design is accelerated at a fast pace, it’s also important to protect our design and art sensibilities and preserve this lost art. Rafi is beyond talented and has had a clear understanding of the voice and nuances of architecture for decades, bringing a perspective that is not only still relevant, but also necessary for students to be exposed to.”



Wednesday June 19th was a fun meet and greet between the Young V and the V Juniors from our Intership Program where they learned from current architectural students and their path so far.  This session was also a highlight of the program since the mentees could see themselves in the near future and could ask the interns real questions about their current programs, universities, application process, etc.  This session was followed by an overview the Ceiba Ferry Terminal by Jessica Díaz and  Adolfo Norcisa.  The day ended with a session about sustainable architecture by Jessica Diaz, and Charleen Crespo with real examples of green building design, construction and permitting.



The closing day was June 20th and it included an overview of the Las Palmas Cafe in Copamarina project from our own José Bird, followed by the lecture I graduated, now what?‘ by Joan Monge and Miraida Rodríguez.  Joan and Miraida surprised them with a twin outfit to show them how we also have fun at work after graduation.



The program concluded with a fun get-together with Young V, V Juniors and the Senior Management Team.



It was exciting to see students from Academia Maria Reina continue to join our own AMR alumni: Ilia Ríos, Jessica Diaz, Rebecca Irizarry and Anaida Rios. “Supporting our blue bees is a cause that will always be close to my heart; I am incredibly committed to helping young girls find their voice and grow in their professions,” adds Ilia Rios.



The Young V Mentorship program is much more than just a training ground; it’s a real-life experience about architecture.  At V Architecture, we are committed to assist students early in their academic years, even prior to graduating from high school, so that they can make the correct decisions about their interests and career paths.  Every year we confirm the importance of the mentoring process in the success of a student and future professionals.  If we wait until they are in architecture school, it is too late.

By mentoring and guiding high school students we empowering the next generation of architects and designers, V Architecture is fostering innovation, ensuring the continued development of the island’s unique architectural identity. To all our aspiring designers, stay tuned for next year’s edition!