Two Senior Hires Expand VMDO Architects’ DC Office Deepening the Firm’s Focus on Helping Owners Meet ‘Clean Energy DC’ Goals

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — VMDO Architects, an architecture firm specializing in design for educational clients and communities, has welcomed Maria Casarella, AIA, and Brian Gruetzmacher, AIA, to its design team.

Both designers join the company’s growing Washington, DC-based team, an office VMDO established in 2018 in response to the District’s Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act. This Act established the District of Columbia’s course toward operating on 100% renewable energy by 2032, a goal in strong alignment with VMDO’s own values and design principles.

"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."

Both Casarella and Gruetzmacher join the team with strong portfolios of work in the District’s metro area and will now co-lead the operations of the VMDO local office. The team will continue its focus on pairing design excellence with energy efficiency, equity, health and wellbeing, and helping to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.

  • Maria Casarella, AIA has over 25 years of award-winning civic, institutional and historic preservation design experience. Her talent in guiding clients through complex entitlements and design approvals in the District region has led to the completion of well-lauded renovation and new construction assignments across a range of project types. She has held leadership roles in advocating for sustainable preservation and equitable communities through her appointed seat on the DC Historic Preservation Review Board from 2008-2015 and her current roles as a Trustee of the DC History Center and a Board member of N Street Village.
  • Brian Gruetzmacher, AIA has over 20 years of design experience in project management roles, nearly a decade of which has been garnered in the District. After many years of work across project sectors, he joined the VMDO team to make a community impact through the design of spaces for education and civic engagement. His experience includes numerous school assignments and other civic spaces, amongst other typologies such as housing and the arts.

"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.

Gruetzmacher also shared, "I am grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with Maria in the continued growth of VMDO’s D.C.-based design practice. 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."

The D.C.-based VMDO team now host 10 full-time staff members working in the studio located at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 7000.

ABOUT VMDO ARCHITECTS With offices in Charlottesville, VA and Washington, DC, VMDO has specialized in architectural planning and design since 1976. In our office, in our collaborations, and in our response to the need for a healthier populace and planet, we believe an emphasis on quality and enduring design can transform a place and elevate the human experience. To learn more, please visit

Nicole Marshall

SOURCE VMDO Architects

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