Our overarching interest in context, tradition, beauty remains steadfast. We firmly believe in the importance of designing the process, the benefit of sustainable architecture & stewardship of the environment, and dedication to craftsmanship.
In addition to traditional classroom learning, today’s college, university, and independent school campuses accommodate a wide array of activities (athletics, dining, performing arts, socializing) that often require specialized facilities. Learning is not confined to the classroom, but occurs wherever the opportunity exists for sharing ideas. We design campus environments that actively encourage students’ intellectual and personal growth in a way that also reinforces the specific institution’s unique mission, pedagogy, and approach to student life. Similarly, classrooms and offices are designed to support the important work of educators, administrators, coaches, and other staff members.
Cultural & Religious
Cultural and religious institutions have historically been defining forces within their communities. However, societal changes have changed how these institutions operate: churches and synagogues are confronted with aging buildings and demographic shifts in their membership; libraries, facing uncertainty about their future role, are increasingly prioritizing technology in their facilities; and museums are no longer limited by the bounds of their physical collection as they become more virtual in nature. Our creative design solutions successfully address these challenges in the context of each institution’s unique history, mission, and community context.
Corporate & Commercial
In an era that increasingly emphasizes the importance of visual communication, architecture and interior design can play a strong role in defining a corporate brand. Office design has moved passed the “cubicle farm” to embrace a variety of concepts that can be tailored for specific corporate cultures, but it can be difficult for companies to understand each option and its impact on operations. Although most of our clients are non-profit institutions, we apply the same approach to our corporate & commercial projects as well: clearly establishing the programmatic priorities, aligning those priorities with the available project funds, and seeking to maximize every inch of available space.
Residential design is unique in its potential to be highly personal and idiosyncratic, reflecting the individual owner’s interests, needs, and dreams. Today’s tech-centric lifestyle and relatively informal approach to entertaining demands innovative planning of spaces to accommodate the shifting balance of public to private and formal to informal, as well as the integration of sustainable building systems and the latest consumer technologies. Whether for single- or multi-family commissions, we design residences with thoughtful elements that elevate quotidian tasks to make daily life less of a chore and more of a pleasure.
Hospitality venues like hotels and private clubs often encompass a wide range of services: dining, meeting, entertaining, overnight accommodations, indoor/outdoor athletic facilities. The architecture and interior design must work in tandem to communicate the institution’s brand while also feeling comfortable and welcoming to patrons. Well-appointed public areas designed in conjunction with efficient back-of-house areas will deliver a superior experience for members and visitors.
Since the very beginning, our design approach has been founded on our knowledge and appreciation of traditional architecture, coupled with a process that prioritizes working closely with our clients to understand their institutional mission, goals, and aspirations. The result is truly responsive architecture that balances beauty and utility. In the design of each building, our commitment to quality and craftsmanship can be seen in the use of materials, scale, and skillful detailing to collectively create an aesthetic which is at once of that moment and timeless.
We are frequently tasked with balancing the need to improve an older building’s performance, accessibility, and general functionality with a desire to respect and preserve its historic character. Our approach to historic preservation, regardless of the building’s specific vintage, is to breathe new life into the existing space while highlighting the unique character which makes it special. We embrace the challenge of seamlessly integrating the contemporary with the historic in a way that respects the project’s program, budget, and aesthetics. In addition to design work, our preservation studio provides standalone services like easement coordination, grant application assistance, and preparing National Register nominations.
The built environment leaves a legacy for future generations in a variety of ways: ecologically, through its impact on the environment; financially, through its impact on the client’s bottom line; and operationally, through day-to-day use and long-term maintenance. We approach every project with the goal of working with the client and our consultants to responsibly balance these impacts. Having embraced the principles of sustainable design over twenty years ago, today we continue to stay informed regarding the evolution of formal certifications like LEED and Passive House as well as the latest advances in building systems and technologies.
We spend vast amounts of time indoors and the interior space which we occupy has a profound impact on our quality of life. The VMA Interiors Studio supports our architectural practice in addition to undertaking standalone projects. Whether formal or informal, traditional or contemporary, public or private, sacred or secular, our interior design strives to satisfy basic human needs for comfort and security while reinforcing the architectural intent overall.
Comprehensive and targeted planning studies can help institutions set goals and strategies related to the built environment that support their overall mission. Our approach is to optimize existing spaces before thinking about expansion possibilities or new facilities. Fundamental to this process is a deep understanding of the existing building fabric and general architectural context, as well as a thorough understanding of the client’s needs so that we can propose solutions that address their challenges in a way that feels organic for their campus.
The integration of the built environment into its landscape furthers the ability of architecture to connect people with the natural environment. Whether a dedicated open space, a central gathering area, or a transition space between elements of the built environment, we incorporate plantings, paving, lighting, and amenities that preserve the integrity of the natural setting, enhance the sense of place, and make the experience of nature more accessible.
We believe that learning is not confined to the classroom, but occurs wherever the opportunity exists for sharing ideas which lead to personal growth and development. Our designs recognize that 21st century residence halls are living learning environments which must provide spaces to facilitate collegiality, establish the foundations for lifelong relationships, and allow a sense of community to develop within the context of the larger institution. For many of our clients, this increasingly means celebrating the connectedness to and shared responsibility for our global community through environmentally responsible design, and proposing new ways to live sustainably.
Theaters & The Arts
With every project, VMA works to capture the magic of the stage while utilizing modern innovations and materials to heighten the connection between spectator and spectacle. While aesthetics are important in terms of centering the space upon the stage, other senses, especially sound, play a crucial role in creating the overall experience. As a result, every step is taken to insure the maximum acoustical quality of the space. These efforts range from modifying the proportions of existing spaces to the utilization of sound absorbing materials. On our stages, culture is created and expressed, the realities of the human experience synthesized, and future performances inspired.
For VMA, an athletic facility is about more than a space to work-out in, an athletic facility is where teams form, student leadership is honed, and the connection between body and mind reaches its maximum potential. A light-filled, multi-purpose space can provide a safe training ground for young athletes in addition to being a stress-relieving outlet for all users. We believe in producing athletic facilities that go beyond functionality, they should be equally elegant and exciting. Such facilities should enhance the overall qualities of an institution.
From schoolhouses, to retail, to private residences, offices are frequent in our projects and range greatly in size and needs. All of our offices are designed support a common goal – to make the space, however big or small, meet the desired goals of the end user and reflect their mission. The arrangement of offices should also accommodate a variety of working styles and activities. Flexible spaces are key to maximizing space, and allow the user to maintain a multiplicity of uses from private meetings with important donors to an after-hours networking event.
We believe that designing for hospitality means creating gracious spaces that communicate a unified brand identity with a cohesive aesthetic. We design these facilities which accommodate dining, meeting, entertaining, and overnight guests to reflect the lifestyles of the members and patrons yet with enough flexibility to evolve over time in response to changing needs and demographics. Effective and efficient back of house operations and welcoming, accessible client service seamlessly combine with beautiful, well appointed spaces to result in a superior experience for a meal, an event, or a vacation.
The design of public space carries with it the responsibility of creating an experience accessible to diverse populations, reflecting the society at large and standing as a symbol of the shared beliefs and imagery of a given generation. Yet as society evolves, so too does the way in which we use our public spaces. Libraries have become more social places, requiring special consideration for quiet space. Museums are no longer limited by the bounds of their physical collection as they become more virtual in nature. This level of complexity reflects a vibrant culture and challenges the architect to be creative, yet mindful of the longevity of public architecture.
Balancing tradition with innovation, our designs for institutions of higher education provide spaces that last and reflect leading thought in the field. These buildings contribute to the larger campus environment, reinforcing the larger collection of built structures as well as campus open space, simultaneously responding to the needs of the university community and town/gown relationship. Our designs are well suited to accommodate today’s teaching methods, distance learning, and the multi-tasking nature of today’s students by providing spaces that support collegiality both in and out of the classroom.
The architecture of educational environments should encourage the intellectual leaps that are fundamental to insight, learning, and accomplishment. It must also offer a considered response to the developmental needs of students and the pedagogical methodologies within each of the varied project types that exist on any given campus. A meaningful architectural image reflects the institution’s philosophy and mission, creating and strengthening its identity.
Whether in a cathedral, temple, church, mosque, or meeting house, the goal of the architecture is to convey the sanctity of the religious experience transcending the realm of the secular into the divine. Using light and structure, the architect strives to create a built form that evokes a sense of reverence and spirituality as it expresses the mystery of religion. Thus, the process begins with an abstraction, becomes a physical representation, and results in an experience of a “oneness”: an integration of form and function that will speak to the timeless truths of life, while unifying a group of people in the act of worship.
Residential design is unique in its potential to be highly personal and idiosyncratic, reflecting the owner’s interests, needs, and dreams. The evolution of contemporary lifestyles demands innovative planning of spaces to accommodate the shifting balance of public to private and formal to informal, as well as the integration of the latest building systems and technologies. By treating architecture that is at once useful and beautiful, the domestic experience becomes more meaningful, elevating the quotidian events of our lives to a new stature.