Ethos is the characteristic spirit of VMDO made manifest by our work together. Not polished or precious by design, Ethos is an internal publication of a design firm that is eager to learn, and to make better architecture through practice, together.
What makes a journal about design different? Ethos emphasizes process over just the final design; illustrates the ideas that drive design; explains why and how design decisions were made; reveals paths not taken that are worth remembering; celebrates the many voices of tenacious teams; synthesizes statistics and techniques; and searches for lessons learned that should be readily applied to ongoing design work.
Sometimes a sequel can live up to, and even surpass, the success of an original. Ethos v.2.0 aims to define with more specificity threads of design quality that, through our work, reflect our values. We have doubled down on our responsibility toward measuring climate change, well-being, and resilience in the communities in which we work. And, you’ll notice a greater emphasis on VMDO’s focus on materiality and construction documentation that reflects how each person who touches design at VMDO is responsible for supporting and furthering a project's quality.
Ethos v.2.0 asks of VMDO a few simple, yet sticky questions. What comprises good architecture? How do we measure the value of our work? What qualifies as a job well done? Touchstones of quality are surprisingly elusive. Clarity slips between our fingers; there is something that is always just beyond our reach. The task of the searching, practicing architect is to define more accurately the good that is on offer through architecture. We must study architecture and practice architecture at the same time, as we develop the skills to apply successful principles in our work.
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, and with so much disparity and suffering, it may seem inappropriate to talk seriously about the importance of design. But it does matter, substantially so, in real even if modest ways. The quality of the built environment contributes to the quality of the lives lived in and around it, aided substantially by the efforts of the architect. Three recognizable threads of design quality weave through the three projects selected for inclusion in this year’s Ethos journal, and the supportive conversations transcribed within. These projects include Alice West Fleet Elementary School, Lubber Run Community Center, and the University of Richmond's Basketball Practice Facility and Well-Being Center.
At VMDO, we believe good architecture embodies a sense of home, strives to craft beauty, and invites belonging.
When architecture can embody a sense of home, can craft beauty, and can invite belonging, it can open up a possibility that did not exist before. Good architecture holds the power to inspire and transform our day to day lives.
You can read VMDO's 2020 Ethos publication below.