About

Headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, VMDO has specialized in architectural planning and design since 1976. In our office, in our collaborations, and in our response to the need for a healthier populace and planet, we believe an emphasis on quality design can transform a place and elevate the human experience.

Culture

How we work is inextricably linked to our belief in the power of design to do the greatest good for a place and its people. With one office in Charlottesville, Virginia, we design community-centered environments that connect people and place through design. We strive to elevate the human experience and the long-term stewardship of our planet by emphasizing the spirit of a place through quality and enduring architecture, sustainable design objectives, sensitivity to sites and landscapes, and design transformations that embody a community’s highest ambitions. Our 60 employees support the firm’s 3 educational design practice areas of K12 Schools, Higher Education, and Athletics + Community.



Just as VMDO nurtures a culture of learning, many of us who have been attracted to VMDO are also lifelong learners or teachers. We are motivated to give back something of ourselves to the greater design community, whether through teaching on an adjunct basis at colleges or universities, contributing to ongoing dialogue between theory and practice, or participating in end-of-year design reviews. In parallel, we are inspired by teaching and learning opportunities here in the office. More than an “intern development program,” we envelop emerging professionals in our teams and expose them to all facets of our work. Countless young architects, returning to VMDO after exploring graduate schools or other firms in other cities tell us that they appreciated the caring, inclusive, family-like atmosphere we have that contributes so much joy to our daily work.

How we work is inextricably linked to our belief in the power of design to do the greatest good for a place and its people. With one office in Charlottesville, Virginia, we design community-centered environments that connect people and place through design. We strive to elevate the human experience and the long-term stewardship of our planet by emphasizing the spirit of a place through quality and enduring architecture, sustainable design objectives, sensitivity to sites and landscapes, and design transformations that embody a community’s highest ambitions. Our 60 employees support the firm’s 3 educational design practice areas of K12 Schools, Higher Education, and Athletics + Community.



Just as VMDO nurtures a culture of learning, many of us who have been attracted to VMDO are also lifelong learners or teachers. We are motivated to give back something of ourselves to the greater design community, whether through teaching on an adjunct basis at colleges or universities, contributing to ongoing dialogue between theory and practice, or participating in end-of-year design reviews. In parallel, we are inspired by teaching and learning opportunities here in the office. More than an “intern development program,” we envelop emerging professionals in our teams and expose them to all facets of our work. Countless young architects, returning to VMDO after exploring graduate schools or other firms in other cities tell us that they appreciated the caring, inclusive, family-like atmosphere we have that contributes so much joy to our daily work.

About our Virginia Architecture Firm
About our Virginia Architecture Firm

Engaging People + Places

Our designs are rooted in how we work. We listen actively, engage thoughtfully, and thrive on collaboration. Our work comes from many voices, and as a result, has broad appeal. You might think that this process leads to an unclear framework for making decisions or a muddled expression. We find that the opposite is true. Instead of compromise, we see design as an act of optimization through synthesis. Every person who acts on the design approach is responsible for advancing its quality. We prioritize coherence in our design strategies, ingenuity in seeking the most effective value for a project, and resolution through a firmness of purpose and commitment to craft.

We take pleasure in what we produce and in working together to serve our clients and community. Each new project presents us with a chance to learn rigorously and think creatively about new opportunities and new relationships. Each successive iteration explores a depth of understanding, and gets closer to a preferred path ahead. As part of our work, we sharpen our skills and evolve our thinking. The design process, for us, is immersive, engaging, and ultimately enjoyable. While we do serious work, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We design together, and together we strive to make progress on meaningful work.

Our designs are rooted in how we work. We listen actively, engage thoughtfully, and thrive on collaboration. Our work comes from many voices, and as a result, has broad appeal. You might think that this process leads to an unclear framework for making decisions or a muddled expression. We find that the opposite is true. Instead of compromise, we see design as an act of optimization through synthesis. Every person who acts on the design approach is responsible for advancing its quality. We prioritize coherence in our design strategies, ingenuity in seeking the most effective value for a project, and resolution through a firmness of purpose and commitment to craft.

We take pleasure in what we produce and in working together to serve our clients and community. Each new project presents us with a chance to learn rigorously and think creatively about new opportunities and new relationships. Each successive iteration explores a depth of understanding, and gets closer to a preferred path ahead. As part of our work, we sharpen our skills and evolve our thinking. The design process, for us, is immersive, engaging, and ultimately enjoyable. While we do serious work, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We design together, and together we strive to make progress on meaningful work.

Our Studio Culture

Commitment to Sustainability

No design is truly beautiful if it creates ugliness somewhere else. VMDO believes good designs are ones that make the world a better place for this and future generations. As architects and global citizens, we have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to challenge conventional thinking, to push ourselves, our consultants, and our clients to achieve more than we think possible, and to demonstrate real and inspiring solutions to the problems we face today. Climate change, water scarcity, and resource depletion and toxification are real and immediate threats. It is within our collective power to restore the health of our communities and our planet, and to do so we make sustainability a fundamental driver of our work, our design process, and our culture as a firm.

No design is truly beautiful if it creates ugliness somewhere else. VMDO believes good designs are ones that make the world a better place for this and future generations. As architects and global citizens, we have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to challenge conventional thinking, to push ourselves, our consultants, and our clients to achieve more than we think possible, and to demonstrate real and inspiring solutions to the problems we face today. Climate change, water scarcity, and resource depletion and toxification are real and immediate threats. It is within our collective power to restore the health of our communities and our planet, and to do so we make sustainability a fundamental driver of our work, our design process, and our culture as a firm.

Our Studio Culture

Values

VMDO has established a reputation for progressive, high-quality designs with purpose. Our mission and values address three attributes that we believe are essential for success:

Culture of Learning

We believe the most effective and elegant architectural solutions come through a vital sense of insight, creativity, and invention, pursued with patience, and grounded in research and expertise. We continually seek new paths and directions in the work we do and the tools we use as we search for these solutions. We recognize each place is unique and form responsive approaches that are distinctly suited to each community. We promote a strong ethic of sustainability and stewardship, advocating innovative environmental strategies throughout the practice.

Community and Connection

We are inspired by conversations with people. We gain momentum in our work through a depth of understanding, and we draw strength from the connections and commitments with talented people formed through genuine collaboration. We enjoy the work we do every day and are committed to a collective atmosphere of openness, trust, and respect throughout our office and our process. We are dedicated to an enriching, healthy, and fulfilling work environment that, in many ways, is an emblematic model of our best thinking about learning and how education works.

Sense of Place

We strive for timeless design of sites and buildings that have a self-evident fit with their surroundings, that are carefully attuned to their use, and that contribute to making a lasting, supportive, and memorable place. We are moved by the idea that our efforts have significance, value, and meaning in the communities where we work; it is especially fortifying when our contributions to the culture and life of a place mark a recognized turning-point or are acknowledged to be truly expressive of a client’s mission.

VMDO has established a reputation for progressive, high-quality designs with purpose. Our mission and values address three attributes that we believe are essential for success:

Culture of Learning

We believe the most effective and elegant architectural solutions come through a vital sense of insight, creativity, and invention, pursued with patience, and grounded in research and expertise. We continually seek new paths and directions in the work we do and the tools we use as we search for these solutions. We recognize each place is unique and form responsive approaches that are distinctly suited to each community. We promote a strong ethic of sustainability and stewardship, advocating innovative environmental strategies throughout the practice.

Community and Connection

We are inspired by conversations with people. We gain momentum in our work through a depth of understanding, and we draw strength from the connections and commitments with talented people formed through genuine collaboration. We enjoy the work we do every day and are committed to a collective atmosphere of openness, trust, and respect throughout our office and our process. We are dedicated to an enriching, healthy, and fulfilling work environment that, in many ways, is an emblematic model of our best thinking about learning and how education works.

Sense of Place

We strive for timeless design of sites and buildings that have a self-evident fit with their surroundings, that are carefully attuned to their use, and that contribute to making a lasting, supportive, and memorable place. We are moved by the idea that our efforts have significance, value, and meaning in the communities where we work; it is especially fortifying when our contributions to the culture and life of a place mark a recognized turning-point or are acknowledged to be truly expressive of a client’s mission.

Our Mission
Our Mission

Giving Back

Our commitment to our work and culture extends to sharing our success with the communities that we serve and organizations with which our individual team members are involved. As a firm, VMDO has committed to donating a minimum of one percent of our billable hours to community service. At the same time, we recognize that giving back is much more than writing a check; it is a contribution of our time, energy, talents, and passion.


We’ve worked within the Charlottesville community since our founding in 1976. Many of our staff members are involved in local nonprofit organizations and often engage in mentoring opportunities and career and resource fairs for students interested in design, building, or architecture. The following is a representative list of some of the charitable and nonprofit causes we’ve contributed to over the years: The Haven, Building Goodness Foundation, People Places of Charlottesville, The Salvation Army, and ACE Mentor Program of America.

Our commitment to our work and culture extends to sharing our success with the communities that we serve and organizations with which our individual team members are involved. As a firm, VMDO has committed to donating a minimum of one percent of our billable hours to community service. At the same time, we recognize that giving back is much more than writing a check; it is a contribution of our time, energy, talents, and passion.


We’ve worked within the Charlottesville community since our founding in 1976. Many of our staff members are involved in local nonprofit organizations and often engage in mentoring opportunities and career and resource fairs for students interested in design, building, or architecture. The following is a representative list of some of the charitable and nonprofit causes we’ve contributed to over the years: The Haven, Building Goodness Foundation, People Places of Charlottesville, The Salvation Army, and ACE Mentor Program of America.