Scholarship Recipient's Designs Are Wave of the Future

Alec Yuzhbabenko
photo by L. Todd Spencer of
The Virginian-Pilot

Norfolk designer Alec Yuzhbabenko moved to Virginia Beach at age 8 after his family emigrated from Ukraine. Today at age 27, he uses his design skills and love for his adopted community to transform what he calls “this area that raised me.”

Alec, a 2015 graduate of Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, finished his last two years with financial help from an Enid W. and Bernard Spigel Architectural Scholarship administered by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. Since 1983 the Spigel Scholarship has helped dozens of upper-level students become architects. The scholarship honors the late Bernard Spigel, a Norfolk architect who designed schools, theaters and businesses in Hampton Roads. Spigel passed away in 1968. His daughter, Lucy Spigel Herman, started the scholarship in memory of her dad.

Alec, a designer with Hanbury Architects in Norfolk, has been in the news lately as lead architect on The Wave, an innovative surf park proposed for 10 acres near the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Right now this area is a parking lot where the old Virginia Beach Dome music center once stood. The Wave project has already gained city approval.

Rendering of surf park
photo courtesy of L. Todd Spencer of
The Virginian-Pilot

Alec’s vision for the surf park was born as his college thesis during his last year at Tech. An avid surfer, he envisioned a park with perfect waves as the hub of a vibrant center that includes a music venue, shops, apartments and restaurants. To make this a reality, Alec is a partner with Venture Realty Group and music mogul Pharrell Williams, who also grew up in Virginia Beach.

In addition to the surf park, Alec is helping design a new sports center in Virginia Beach and is concept designer for the proposed Norfolk Gateway office building recently announced by Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander. He also was on the initial design team for the Central Beach Parkway in Town Center. With all his projects he focuses on “the role architecture plays in building cities” and each building’s “impact on its surroundings.”

When he graduated from Tech, Alec had options for where to work. He considered offers in Chicago where he had interned, as well as in Washington, D.C., and California. He chose to return to Hampton Roads to be near family and to make his mark on the region. For 2 ½ years he worked at Clark Nexsen in Virginia Beach, where he had interned. In 2017 he joined the Hanbury firm and lives in downtown Norfolk and enjoys a one-block walk to his office.

Alec wants to use ideas and architecture to positively impact the region he calls home. He explains: “I want to reshape this area and make it more attractive for more young professionals to move back and contribute to the Hampton Roads area.”

Read about Alec and his surf park idea in this Virginian-Pilot article.
Hear Alec talk about his project in this WAVY-TV story.

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