VMDO has announced 2021 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 Kovach – Associate Principal
- Dade Van Der Werf – Associate Principal
- Noah Marble – Senior Associate
- Lorenzo Battistelli – Senior Associate
- Alexander Jack – Associate
- Lauren Shumate – Associate
- Ben Thompson – Associate
Jim Kovach: Associate Principal
Jim joined the VMDO team in 2002 and has twenty years of experience working with firms in Virginia and New York. He is a key contributor to the firm’s Higher Education concentration, designing some of VMDO’s most noteworthy campus master planning, arts, academic, and student-centered projects. He has helped establish VMDO’s concentration in academic and public library design, and is currently help modernize his childhood library in upstate New York – New City Public Library.
A frequent presenter, Jim has shared findings on the evolution of flexible, student-centered libraries, learning environments, and multidisciplinary facilities in a variety of conference and professional settings including: ACRL, ALA, and Library Journal (libraries); ICFAD, Learning Resources Collaboratory, SCUP (learning environments); and NIRSA (recreational, multidisciplinary facilities), among others. He has co-authored many publications, including VMDO's Library Design and Learning Spaces Design reference materials.
“Jim sought out connections at the most personal level while weaving together the needs of the many stakeholders involved in a project [the Liberty Library + Academic Commons] that will impact thousands of students, faculty, and staff for years to come.”
– Marcy Pride, Former Liberty Library Dean
Dade Van Der Werf, AIA, LEED AP BD+C: Associate Principal
Dade joined the VMDO team in 2013 and has over 20 years of experience working for prominent architecture firms and institutions of higher education up-and-down the east coast, including UVA’s Office of Facilities Planning & Construction. Dade has established himself as a key contributor to the firm’s higher education concentration, managing some of VMDO’s most large and complex projects to date – including VMDO’s designs for Clemson University’s Core Campus and Virginia Tech's Creativity and Innovation District, among others.
Dade’s varied experience and deeply involved approach produce creative designs that are well-informed and functionally sound. His careful project management style and extensive experience ensure that projects are delivered on-time and under-budget.
“Dade is thoughtful, thorough, detailed and accountable. He listens before he speaks. He has a wealth of accumulated knowledge and is willing to share it for the betterment of both his own projects and those of his peers. Perhaps most importantly, he is exceedingly patient, confirming that stakeholders, end-users, and clients are always fully satisfied. Dade compares favorably with the very best Project Managers with whom I have worked during my career.”
– Don Sundgren, UVA Associate Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer
Noah Marble, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP: Senior Associate
Noah provides 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. 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.
“VMDO particularly shines with their ability to listen to the client’s needs and clearly articulate a vision that captures the goals of all stakeholders. At a recent meeting with the Commission of Fine Arts, VMDO received glowing reviews with their design of Stead Park. In all of my years with DPR, I don’t recall a more positive design response from the CFA – it was truly remarkable.”
– Brent Sisco, Planning and Design, DC Department of Parks and Recreation
Lorenzo Battistelli, AIA, LEED AP BD+C: Senior AssociateInspired by his Italian roots and his abiding interest in architectural history and historic design, Lorenzo serves as VMDO’s in-house technical documentation specialist, providing detailed guidance in helping execute some of the firm's most technically complex projects, including the 522,000 SF multi-phased Centennial Village at the University of Miami.
With every project, Lorenzo’s aim and responsibility is to decipher the building and get to know it both from a detailed physical and digital perspective. Lorenzo’s studious inspection of a building allows him to translate it carefully and accurately into a 3D BIM model format. A labor of love, this accurate modeling supports the creation of a compelling series of drawings and streamlined communication regarding what is in need of further refinement or investigation and what is not. These visualization efforts allow the building’s design to come together in a coordinated document that is as precise as it is thoughtful.
“As I’ve worked with VMDO, I’ve come to appreciate their healthy respect for engineering. There was a time that I would have assumed that was true for all architects. I’ve found that some are much better at thinking through the constructability of their designs than others. I include VMDO in this latter group. I continue to appreciate how thoroughly their design anticipated the engineering challenges of structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other systems.”
– Jim Smart, Associate VP for Student Affairs, Housings Strategic Initiatives
Alexander Jack, AIA: Associate
Alex’s decade of architectural experience spans a wide range of building types, scales and locations He is passionate about the craft and process of synthesizing client and community needs, local climate and site opportunities, and material life cycle approaches through high-performance and beautiful designs. He is a recurring guest critic at the University of Virginia School of Architecture and at Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design. Through his work, teaching and extracurricular activities, Alex is committed to nurturing design-thinking, challenging industry norms via architectural practicum, and broadening early design decisions using simulation and data.
Lauren Shumate, AIA, WELL AP: Associate
As a member of the Athletics + Community Studio, Lauren focuses on ensuring that design of thoughtful learning environments is carried from visioning all the way through construction. She enjoys approaching problems both creatively and analytically and believes that successful projects combine responsive design and quality documentation. Her constant pursuit of architectural excellence combined with her commitment to high standards for documentation and design is the foundation that underlies her diverse skill-set and project expertise. You can read a recent interview with Lauren with AIA Virginia's Inform Magazine here.
Ben Thompson, LEED AP BD+C: Associate
A second-generation architect, Ben’s interest in architecture developed at an early age. Adept at overseeing all aspects of project phases, Ben applies a variety of technical skills and expertise to project coordination, development, and documentation, often using a combination of computer modeling and hand-sketching abilities to effectively communicate ideas at the planning, concept, and detail levels.
During his tenure at VMDO, Ben has served as the lead designer on several significant K12 projects, leading diverse planning workshops and engaging a broad group of stakeholders for a variety of public school clients. Working closely with user and community groups to establish a clear vision and deliver customized and contextual solutions to each unique circumstance, Ben brings a fresh optimism and team-oriented approach to the design process and development of every project.