Based in Charlottesville, VA, VMDO has specialized in architectural design for educational institutions since 1976. Our hallmark is the unwavering commitment we have to designing environments that shape the way people live, learn, work, and play, and at their best, uplift the human spirit.
Since our founding in 1976 by UVA Professor Emeritus Robert Vickery, FAIA and his three best students, we have focused our practice on customized planning and design for institutional clients, with a particular focus on education. We are committed to designing facilities that are more than just functional places and spaces. We strive to create designs that are suited to the needs of the community, offer an inspiring, engaging environment, and translate into meaningful buildings of lasting value.
Just as VMDO was founded by an educator who helped students and clients question and define the role of architecture in society, many of us who have been attracted to VMDO are also teachers. Whether we teach on an adjunct basis at colleges or universities, contribute to ongoing dialogue between theory and practice, or participate in end-of-year design reviews, we are motivated to give back something of ourselves to the greater design community.
In parallel, we are motivated by teaching opportunities here in the office: we recruit the very best graduating students and groom them as well-rounded young architects. 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.
The city of Charlottesville – with its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, high quality of life enriched by a national research university, and music, food, and cultural attractions drawing from the local resources and talents of the area – contributes much to the culture that we call home. By living fulfilling lives outside of work – inspired in part by the beauty, accessibility, and amenities of the region – we contribute to a healthy work environment that fosters inspiration and connection. While our designs often take shape in cities far from home, our dedication to one office – and the community that comes from that dedication – contributes to a place that we take pride in shaping, day in and day out.
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:
Innovation + Creativity
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.
Collaboration + Community
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 openess, 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.
Design Excellence + Meaning
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.
Engaging People + Places
We endeavor to solve complex problems and programs with vision. VMDO is skilled at engaging communities and building consensus by carefully listening to client concerns, providing a variety of design options featuring the latest in 3D visualization, and working across disciplines to maximize collaborative synergies. By gathering feedback from vision sessions, workshops, interviews and surveys, programmatic review, and facility investigations, we anticipate challenges in order to proactively and creatively help solve the mission of a building. All the while, we strive to reflect the sense of community garnered from close collaborations during design in the actual built environment.
This collaborative process helps us achieve a difficult duality of designing spaces that people use and enjoy on a daily basis and that also serve as emblems of greater purpose. By employing an inclusive, engaging, and collaborative process, we strive to create authentic places that befit community contexts while being both timely and timeless.
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.