VMDO Architects (VMDO) has just welcomed two new senior members into its steadily growing office in Washington, D.C. Maria Casarella, AIA, and Brian Gruetzmacher, AIA, join the fold, bringing decades of experience in design for sustainability, equity, health and wellbeing to the team, established in response to the District’s Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act back in 2018.
The act details a series of standards and procedures aimed at putting switching D.C. over to 100% renewable energy by 2032, and to full carbon-neutrality in 2050 while also strengthening the safety and resilience of the District in response to worsening weather conditions. As the goals outlined in the plan aligned heavily with VMDO’s own values and principles, the D.C. office was established to better aid in the effort.
“VMDO has designed more than 500,000 square feet of net-zero energy projects in the National Capital Region (NCR). The LEED Zero school, Discovery Elementary, was the first building in the NCR to demonstrate a net-positive energy balance,” said Rob Winstead, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, a principal at VMDO. “We are committed to building on that legacy in D.C. and have been carefully bringing together the right studio leaders to support that goal.”
Meet the New Architects Helping Head VDMO’s Environmental Goals
With over 25 years of award-winning civic, institutional and historic preservation design experience, Maria Casella has led several well-lauded renovation and new construction assignments throughout her career. She continues to be an advocate of sustainable renovations and equitable communities to this day, and currently stands as a Trustee of the D.C. History Center and a Board Member of the N Street Village.
“I have had the privilege of working in incredible design firms through my career to-date, but environmental performance has become a non-negotiable design issue for me at this point. After knowing of VMDO’s reputation for sustainable design leadership for many years, I feel grateful for the opportunity to be part of their unwavering dedication to designing resilient places that will serve communities for many generations to come,” said Maria Casarella, AIA.
Brian Geutzmacher, meanwhile, brings 20 years of design experience in project management roles across schools and other civic spaces, as well as housing and the arts. He has joined the VMDO team to make a greater impact through the design of spaces for education and civic engagement.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with Maria in the continued growth of VMDO’s D.C.-based design practice,” Gruetzmacher shared. “We are exploring opportunities for unique new ways to engage D.C.’s local communities in the climate-responsive design of civic and educational spaces, and am proud to be a part of the broader VMDO team along with some of the most well-regarded leaders in sustainable design.”