We were first introduced to Ilva during our preparation for April’s article Moynihan Train Hall Welcomes the World Back to New York City. After several zoom calls and an in-person walk through at Moynihan it became clear that Ilva amassed world-class skills as she was designing many beautiful and high-visibility projects.
We sat down with Ilva earlier this month to learn more about her fascinating story.
She is a native of Albania and arrived in New York City about 18 years ago, graduating from the Spitzer School of Architecture.
Ilva joined DGA in 2007 while working toward a Bachelor of Architecture degree at the City College of New York (CCNY). Upon graduating in 2011 she joined DGA full time. During her time at DGA she has transitioned through many roles, becoming a director in 2021. Her extensive portfolio consists of over 70 projects, many award-winning, including transportation, infrastructure, historical preservation, schools, offices, public parks, retail centers, hospitality, and master plans.
As an architectural designer with over 13 years’ experience in the field of architectural lighting she has led and managed the design of numerous and diverse projects across the Unites States and Canada. Notable recent projects include:
- The newly opened Moynihan Train Hall
- Delta’s new terminal at LaGuardia Airport
- Charlotte International Airport Terminal Expansion
- Interior of Toronto’s “front door,” its Union Station
- VIA Centro Plaza
- Brightline Miami Terminal as well as Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach Stations
- The Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
- Maggie Daley Park
- A New Terminal in the Tri-State Area
In addition to designing and managing challenging lighting projects, Ilva is also an Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture, at the City College of New York. She teaches two class, one of which is Environmental Systems, a core technology course. She is also a co-creator andco-instructor with Domingo Gonzalez of the first Architectural Lighting elective in the Architecture program at CCNY.
Ilva’s volunteer work in our industry is extensive:
- Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Professional member since 2012
- Long standing Member of IES Education, Library and Office Lighting Committee
- Member of IES Airports and Heliports Lighting Committee
- International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) member since 2015
- American Institute of Architects (AIA) member (associate level) since 2011
- Speaker at LEDUCATION 2021 Conference
- Lumen Awards Judge 2020 for IES New York City section
- IES Illuminating Awards Online Judge in 2020 and 2021
- CCNY invited Studio Critic in Final Studio/Thesis Reviews
In 2018, Ilva was the recipient of the 40 Under 40 Lighting Designer of North America Award for demonstrated excellence as an architectural lighting designer. She has received numerous awards for her projects including an IESNYC Lumen Award, various IES Illumination Awards, LIT Design Award, Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, and a GE Edison Award, just to name a few.
In our discussion she gave much credit to many mentors, specifically the ones within DGA notably Domingo Gonzalez himself who inspired her to join his architectural lighting firm upon graduation. She also credits the projects and talented design and engineering teams she has worked with during her tenure at DGA. Above all, she credits her parents, siblings and partner who have continuously supported and encouraged her dreams and ambitions.
Congratulations to Ilva Dodaj, designing lighting’s (dl) Lighting Designer of the Year.