VLK Architects Promotes Four to Principal

VLK Architects proudly announces the promotion of four team members to Principal. The newly named Principals include Rory D. Estes, AIA, Charles W. Johnson, Jr., AIA, Rudy Starks, Jr., NCARB, and Julie Zitter, IIDA, RID. VLK elected these new Principals in response to the outstanding effort of each individual and in recognition of their leadership roles both inside and outside the firm. Through efficient and effective project management, creative problem solving, extensive knowledge of industry and firm processes and resources, their contributions have made a huge impact on VLK and the clients they serve.

Rory D. Estes, AIA, has more than 20 years of experience in educational architecture. He joined VLK as Project Director and Senior Associate in January 2023, and has gone above and beyond serving clients in Bastrop, Belton, Lockhart, and Temple ISDs. From representation at community and school board meetings to participation in client meetings and events, Estes is a trusted resource and friendly face in the communities VLK serves.

Charles W. Johnson, Jr., AIA, graduated from the University of Houston and began his career at VLK shortly after. Of his 22 years in architecture, more than 19 of those have been at VLK, where he has performed in various roles including Project Coordinator, Project Architect, Director of Operations, and most recently as Architecture Director and Senior Associate for the last eight years. His tireless work to ensure that teams have the information, resources, and support they need to provide our clients unparalleled service makes him an invaluable asset to our firm.

Rudy Starks, Jr., NCARB, has spent the last seven years at VLK enthusiastically serving clients in districts including Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Katy ISD, and Lamar CISD as Project Architect and Director. Starks quickly emerged as a trusted mentor and leader within the firm and among those that he works with and was named Associate in 2019 and Senior Associate in 2021. From our most important long-term clients to the newest emerging professionals in our firm, Starks is a valuable resource and advisor to everyone he interacts with.

Julie Zitter, IIDA, RID, joined VLK as Project Director and Senior Associate a year ago and eagerly began contributing to the firm’s success in both K-12 and commercial design projects. Zitter is a valuable resource to the firm and her clients alike with her knowledge of trends and products, and her active involvement in many professional design organizations and conferences. She is passionate about visioning, learning, and working environments and their impact on the health and wellness of the end user. As Principal, she will continue to provide unique design solutions to K-12 and commercial clients across Central Texas.

“These four leaders at VLK fully embody the core values of our firm. They have done an incredible job leading teams, serving our clients, and serving as mentors within VLK,” said Sloan Harris, VLK Architects CEO | Partner. “I am proud to be able to work by their side and am excited about our future together and the added strength they bring to VLK for our clients employees.”