VMDO has announced 2020 leadership promotions, honoring staff contributions which have elevated the firm's professional practice while advancing thought leadership in design, sustainability, client service, and project management.
- Jim Richardson – Associate Principal
- Michelle Amt – Director of Sustainability and Senior Associate
- Frances Lengowski – Senior Associate
- JP Mays – Associate
- Noah Bolton – Associate
- Lauren Shirley – Associate
- Noah Marble – Associate
Jim Richardson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C: Associate Principal
A conscientious architect and team leader, Jim has dedicated his 15 years at VMDO to elevating the quality of our design thinking and deliverables in service to our clients, their communities, and the practice of professional architecture. Jim embodies the many roles of an architect – mentor, advocate, designer, planner, practitioner, collaborator, listener, writer – with eloquence and ease. While he is quick to celebrate others and defer praise, Jim has been diligently overseeing VMDO’s largest and longest project yet – the multi-phased Centennial Village at the University of Miami – while working behind-the-scenes to promote the success of firm-wide projects like VMDO’s Ethos design publication and annual travel fellowship. Whether in-person or through his designs, Jim’s contributions inspire and challenge us to hone our responses to questions like: “What does quality architecture look like? Why does it matter? What and how can we improve?” He does this with a refreshing humor and humility that helps us remember to lead with our design values and continue to develop our best thinking about beauty, craft, placemaking, identity, and the power of architecture to transform our day-to-day lives.
Michelle Amt, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP: Senior Associate
As VMDO’s Director of Sustainability, Michelle is a swiss-army knife of talent – offering incisive, passionate, and pragmatic knowledge about building design and the systems, metrics, and behaviors that inform architecture’s complex relationships with the built and natural environments. Not limiting her talents to sustainability advocacy alone, Michelle has implemented systems-level changes that align VMDO’s values with measurable, positive outcomes related to climate action, social justice, and client stewardship.
Just months into her role at VMDO, Michelle helped establish consistent firm-wide reporting to the AIA 2030 Commitment, aligning VMDO with the top 5% of firms nationwide, while mentoring staff in best practices related to occupant and material health and relevant certifications offered by LEED, WELL, Passive House, and Fitwel. Michelle applies her sustainability lens to frameworks of justice and equity – guiding VMDO through ILFI’s JUST certification process and helping to create VMDO’s pro-bono design arm, VMDO Design Corps. Believing we can’t improve what we don’t know, Michelle has collaborated on post-occupancy evaluations with the Center for the Built Environment that measure building performance, operations, and health based on user feedback (and that resulted in a 2019 Livable Buildings Award). In addition to her work uplifting VMDO and the firm’s clients and collaborators, Michelle serves as a nationally recognized leader as a member of the WELL Movement Advisory Committee, a contributor to the AIA COTE Advocacy, and active participant in BuildingGreen’s Sustainable Design Leaders forum.
Frances Lengowski, AIA, LEED AP BD+C: Senior Associate
Frances has committed her career to the advancement of housing professionals and residence life design – charting a 15-year tenure at VMDO that aligns her natural passion for engagement with client development. Her leadership in residence life has led to the emergence of VMDO’s housing design at a national scale across a variety of campuses up and down the East Coast – at Clemson, Georgia Tech, George Washington, JMU, the University of Miami, UVA, and Virginia Tech. With sincerity and an eagerness to collaborate, Frances synthesizes a diversity of perspectives in her campus outreach and program visioning – bringing often disparate voices together in a way that recognizes difference while advancing a common vision. This synchronization not only happens in a program document but also in real-time with students, faculty, staff, and university administrators.
Recognizing her advocacy and leadership in residence life, the Association for College and University Housing Officials International (ACUHO-I) honored Frances with the 2019 S. Earl Thompson Award. The award “recognizes an individual who is not directly related to ACUHO-I, but who has made a significant contribution to the campus housing field” through an outstanding track-record of collaborating with the association. Frances has been involved with ACUHO-I for over a decade – presenting at numerous conferences, serving as the Chair of the Sustainability Committee, and contributing several articles to ACUHO-I’s Talking Stick publication, including 2016’s Article of the Year. Frances continues to develop research partnerships that are contributing knowledge around student engagement, academic success, and health and wellness that help higher education clients respond to the complex challenges facing campuses today.
JP Mays, AIA, LEED AP, CPHC®: Associate
A member of VMDO’s Higher Education studio, JP is passionate about creating beautiful, high-performing buildings and has contributed to the success of over a dozen projects at VMDO. Through his attention to detail and dedication to project goals, JP enjoys offering a high level of client service from preliminary design through construction. His constant pursuit of architectural excellence combined with his commitment to high standards for documentation and design is the foundation that underlies his diverse skill-set and project expertise. JP is always exploring architectural innovation and pursuing advancements in new technology, building information modeling, and data-informed design solutions. Over the past year, he received both his AIA license and Passive House certification.
Noah Bolton, AIA, LEED AP BD+C: Associate
Noah has been an integral member of the Athletics + Community Studio, bringing a diverse range of experience to projects that celebrate community, health, craft, and engagement while considering notions of place, history, and justice. His comprehensive planning work for projects like Lynchburg’s WPA-era City Stadium restoration and UVA’s Softball Stadium at Palmer Park built client and community trust around complex conversations about the legacy of public space, accessibility, and visibility. As a project manager, Noah finds great satisfaction in working closely with clients to ensure their shared vision for a project is realized. He brings a comprehensive attention to quality, both in design and construction to details large and small, which results in close collaborations with project teams of artisans, designers, makers, contractors, and consultants.
Lauren Shirley, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP: Associate
Lauren joined VMDO’s Athletics + Community studio in 2017 and immediately went to work tackling new ways of improving design coordination, project efficiencies, occupant wellness, and client engagement strategies. Her twelve years of practice have provided wide-ranging experience in domestic and international projects in urban design, education, healthcare, corporate environments, and hospitality. She brings a balance of creativity, passion, and determination to her work, driving design resolution and interdisciplinary collaborations. Since joining VMDO, Lauren has been the Project Architect for UVA's Student Health and Wellness Center, and is now serving the same role for UVA's much-anticipated School of Data Science.
Noah Marble, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP: Associate
Although a new addition to VMDO, Noah is an old hand at delivering design excellence at every turn while supporting business outcomes that reinforce value-driven decision-making and relationships. A talented manager of projects and people, evidenced by previous leadership at well-respected firms like Eskew Dumez Ripple and Gould Evans in New Orleans, Noah moved to Washington, DC to oversee VMDO’s new DC office and its role in meeting DC's aggressive renewable-energy standards and climate commitments. His work developing the concept of a reinvigorated Stead Park, just steps from VMDO’s office, lead to VMDO’s selection for what is anticipated to be the first net-zero energy community center in DC proper. Both a conceptual thinker and willing team player, Noah offers natural leadership skills complemented by a desire to advance design conversations and high-performance building contributions through a diversity of avenues – including advocacy, policy, communications, strategy, and business development.