ISTUDIO x DesignDC 2019 by Rick Schneider

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Principal Rick Schneider presents recent case studies in civic architecture that emulate powerful forces of nature to build community resilience.

Washington, DC is leading the way as a member of the 100 Resilient Cities Network. The DC Department of General Services (DGS) is working with agencies like the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to build the civic infrastructure of the future. New DPR projects fulfill the agency’s mission to promote wellness, conserve the environment and provide universal access. Members of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, along with DC’s Chief Resilience Officer and the Director of DGS, will talk about citywide efforts to plan for and build resilient facilities. The panel discusses the part sustainable facilities play in equitable design, community resilience, and green infrastructure. Case studies include Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, the first center with integrated natural ventilation. The center was designed on biophilic principles as a resilient hub to withstand floods and power outages.  

“This Building Breathes: Tales of a Resilient City”


Keith A. Anderson, Director - DC Department of General Services

Susan Piedmont-Palladino, Director - VA Tech WAAC

Kevin Bush, DC Chief Resilience Officer

Rick Schneider, AIA, LEED - Principal, ISTUDIO Architects

Architizer A+ Awards Special Mention by Rick Schneider


We are pleased to announce that Marvin Gaye Recreation Center won an Architizer A+ Awards Special Mention in the category of Concepts-Plus-Architecture + Climate Change! This international award recognizes projects that respond to contemporary challenges facing our environment. MGR is our city's first rec center with integrated natural ventilation and is designed to be resilient against natural disasters.

AIA CHAPTER AWARDS by Rick Schneider


We are excited and honored to announce that three of our projects have won four AIA DC Design Awards. Powell Elementary is recognized for Design Excellence and Sustainability, Twin Oaks Pavilion earned the Universal Design award, and Marvin Gaye Recreation Center is also honored for Sustainability. A big thanks to all the many collaborators who contributed to achieve these beautiful projects and helped further our mission of creating communities of artful, sustainable design. Thank you to AIA DC for these prestigious awards.

Powell Elementary

AIA DC Design Excellence & Sustainability Awards

Twin Oaks Pavilion

AIA DC Universal Design Award

Marvin Gaye Recreation Center

AIA DC Sustainability Award

2 CITIES by istudio


We’ve grown! As the work has grown and project types expanded we’ve teamed up with JP2 Architects our partners in Baltimore. Together we offer planning, architecture, and interior design services for a range of Commercial and Civic project types. Our portfolio includes Multi-family, Mixed-Use, Retail, Hospitality, Entertainment, Office, Civic, Institutional, Educational, Industrial, Infrastructure, and some High-end Residential work as well. Our team of 30 architects, designers, and planners has many talents. We’ve got stories.

ACCOLADES by istudio


We’re grateful for our mission-driven clients and honored at the recognition our work has received. This past year alone we criss-crossed the country at the invitation of the Gehl Institute, CitiesAlive, and the American Horticultural Society. We engaged in resilient community sessions at the SXSW Cities conference in Spring and showcased new ideas for outdoor education spaces at Cornell in the Summer. By the Fall we had presented project case studies at Public X Design in Detroit, CitiesAlive in Brooklyn, and DesignDC in Washington DC. We closed out the year with a showcase of Marvin Gaye Recreation Center at ECON, the DC Mayor Bowser’s annual Economic Partnership meeting. The Center also won a Presidential Citation for Sustainable Design at this years AIA|DC design awards. You can see more plus a list of published projects in our Story.

18 YEARS by istudio


We celebrated our birthday in September - 18 years of civic, cultural, and community-based work! We began with a dedication to the design of artful, sustainable communities and we’re amazed at the people and projects that have crossed our path. Thinking back, our first project was community process and planning for the Girard Street Playground in 2000. Three years later we designed light-filled offices for community developer Jair Lynch and won awards for our Smart Wall. 2005 found us developing an art-based public school for Washington Very Special Arts. We developed a Vision Plan for the National Mall and presented it to Congressional Representatives in 2008. That same year we designed a solar-powered City Council chamber for the City of Takoma Park. We travelled overseas quite a bit with the US Forest Service from 2010 to 2012 designing sustainable tourism centers in Africa. Since then we’ve watched civic projects come to life and grow into award-winning green schools, recreation centers, municipal offices, and civic infrastructure. We just completed Washington DC’s first Infrastructure Academy. Here’s to another 18.

DC Design Week at Marvin Gaye Recreation Center by istudio


We are excited to be a part of DC Design Week, a city-wide celebration of all things design in DC hosted by AIGA DC.  Come join us for a creative lunch at Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, where we will be talking about the design process and the importance of art in communities.  Tuesday 10/23 @ 12pm. Click here or the link below for more information.

ISTUDIO Presentation at Design|DC 2018 by istudio


Please join ISTUDIO’s Marisa Brown and Rick Harlan Schneider at DesignDC 2018 this Wednesday. Marisa + Rick will be speaking on the conference theme of Constructing an Equitable Future along with Sally Parker, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Sustainability Liason. “Hosted by the Washington DC AIA, this year’s DesignDC conference theme is Constructing an Equitable Future. The conference will analyze the role of architects, interior designers, engineers, contractors, planners, landscape architects, and developers in creating working, playing, and living spaces open to all regardless of ability, income-level, or age.”

“Washington DC has an equity problem: the city’s poorest neighborhoods have no ready access to healthy foods found in neighborhood grocery stores. DCPS + DC OSSE have built a robust school garden program throughout the city. The school gardens promote healthy living + stronger neighborhoods while providing access to healthy foods. ISTUDIO architects has designed inspirational places that support these programs as the new civic infrastructure. Spaces include rooftop gardens, curriculum gardens, outdoor classrooms, natural playgrounds, and teaching kitchens.

The presentation Garden Classrooms: Creating Access to a Healthier Future will take place on Wednesday, October 3 at 2:15PM in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. See the AIA|DC website for info on registration.

ISTUDIO presentation at Cities Alive Conference by istudio


Principal Rick Schneider, AIA, LEED AP, presents case studies in design for outdoor education at CitiesAlive 2018 in Brooklyn, NY. He is joined by co-presenters Sally Parker, DCPS Sustainability Liaison and Sam Ullery, School Gardens Coordinator with DC OSSE. “Cities around the country expect architects to design the schools of the future. Plans for 21st century schools don’t often look like the plans of the past – they are healthy, green, and resilient.

DC Public Schools and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education are creating outdoor learning environments to expand learning beyond the 'data dump' of traditional classroom instruction. School gardens and green spaces are a key component, reflecting both the school community and surrounding community.  These spaces ensure all students, including those with special needs, have opportunities to learn outdoors and connect with nature.

Curriculum gardens paired with outdoor classrooms and teaching kitchens offer a unique Field to Table learning opportunity. Students grow and prepare their own food, learning about personal health and environmental stewardship. These places promote healthy living and stronger neighborhoods – the building blocks of a healthy city.

In this session Rick, Sally, + Sam talk about garden classrooms that are actively integrated into the curriculum and the part sustainable facilities play in equitable design, community resilience, and green infrastructure.”

The presentation titled Garden Classrooms: Field to Table in School, with DC-based case studies including the Tubman Garden project, will be on Wednesday the 26th.

Architects Ready to Help with Hurricane Relief by istudio


Architects + Engineers in the Mid-Atlantic are on stand-by with the North Carolina American Institute of Architects (AIA) ready to help with Hurricane Florence Disaster Assistance. Architects can be certified to provide evaluations of facilities and buildings in the aftermath of a disaster. As a volunteer with the AIA Post-Disaster Safety Assessment Program (SAP), ISTUDIO’s Marisa Brown monitors daily updates on the current relief efforts.

When a disaster strikes, AIA and SEA (Structural Engineers Association) are resources for local authorities to utilize in the safety assessments of affected buildings and communities. Depending on the need, state authorities may request help from out of state organizations to help with the relief effort. Professionals like Marisa volunteer their time to help communities recover and rebuild as quickly as possible.

To learn more about the Safety Assessment Program, including upcoming training sessions, visit the website:

Certified Post-Disaster Building Safety Assessment Volunteers can sign-up to assist in the effort here:

ISTUDIO to present at Public x Design Conference by istudio


ISTUDIO Architects has been selected to present at Public x Design, the annual conference hosted by the Gehl Institute for Public Life.  This year’s conference focuses on inclusion and equity in our public spaces. ISTUDIO is working with Washington DC to build the schools of the future. These 21st Century learning environments expand beyond the traditional classroom. Principal Rick Harlan Schneider will present recent successes in design for outdoor education and discuss equitable design, community resilience, and green infrastructure. Case studies include the Tubman ES Outdoor Kitchen and Garden, Powell ES outdoor learning spaces, Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, and Twin Oaks Community Garden.

Public x Design will be held in Detroit from Monday, September 23rd to 25th.

Mayor Opens DC’s First Resilient Recreation Center by istudio


Mayor Muriel Bowser toured the new recreation center with ISTUDIO Project Architect Marisa Brown, Project Manager Dan Snook, and Principal Rick Harlan Schneider. Named for its neighborhood native son, the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center is the city’s first center with integrated natural ventilation. Fresh air, daylighting, and energy efficiency are just some of the sustainable features that make this LEED Gold facility a resilient hub in Northeast Washington DC.

On hand to celebrate the ribbon cutting were Gaye’s brother Antwaun Gay, Ward 7 Council Member Vincent Gray, DC Department of Parks + Recreations (DPR) Director Keith Anderson, and DC Department of General Services (DGS) Director Greer Gillis. The recreation center and trail serve DPR’s mission to promote health, conservation, and universal access to parks.

Many thanks to the team at DC DGS and DPR, the design-build contractor MCN Build, and the communities of Ward 7!

Mayor Muriel Bowser: “We are honored to celebrate and honor a DC native who brought so much joy to our world with a fantastic recreation center that will continue bringing joy to our community.”

WJLA: Ribbon-cutting ceremony held for new D.C. recreation center named after Marvin Gaye

WTOP: New DC rec center named after local Motown legend Marvin Gaye

Mayor Muriel Bowser: "Today, we cut the ribbon on the new Marvin Gaye Recreation Center in Ward 7, honoring his legacy, and of course, his love for music."

CM Vince Gray: "I'm sure Marvin Gaye would’ve love this majestic center we opened in #Ward7 today, just blocks away from where he grew-up!"

DC DGS: "TODAY: @WeElevateDC joined @MayorBowser , CM @VinceGrayWard7, @DCDPR and the Ward 7 community at the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center Ribbon Cutting."

DC DPR: "#MarvinGayeDay we are getting it on!"

Tubman E.S. Courtyard featured in Architecture|DC magazine by istudio


The renovation of the courtyard at Tubman Elementary School, located in Columbia Heights, was featured in the ArchitectureDC magazine as a part of the "Hatching New Ideas" edition of Spring 2018.  This fast-paced project incorporates garden beds, a teaching kitchen, and a canopy, reminiscent of a paper airplane, for modernizing this District elementary school from the early 70s.

We are proud to take part in providing healthy learning environments for students of the District of Columbia.

View entire article here.

Studio Salon: Sustainable Infrastructure for Our City by istudio


“Anything you can blow up in an action movie…” says Zach Schafer to begin our studio salon. Bridges, roads, dams, and airports are the traditional way we used to think of infrastructure. We now look at the soft stuff too - our green spaces manage stormwater and our civic places that shore up communities. It’s all critical to the healthy functioning of our towns + our cities. So much of it remains in the background unnoticed until it fails, and we are surprised at the cost for the upgrade or repair. It’s tough to fund the initiatives for bringing infrastructure into the 21st century since nobody schedules a ribbon-cutting for filling potholes.We continue the thought in our discussion – civic places and green spaces are infrastructure. What happens when we combine uses for efficiency and bring infrastructure into the public frame of reference? A park is a facility for filtration + stormwater management; a recreation center provides space for wellness programs and a refuge in a flood; rooftops on every neighborhood school are nodes in a solar energy grid. The green technologies of the future become better integrated with our daily lives. "The opportunity is great," says Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes. Green infrastructure means green jobs, “like the kind we’re training for now at the new DC Infrastructure Academy.” If the traditional infrastructure is the stuff that holds our built environment together, it’s the soft stuff like jobs training that knits our communities together, making them more resilient.

Special thanks to our panelists: Tommy Wells, Director, DC Department of Energy + the Environment Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Director, DC Department of Employment Services Zachary Schafer, Executive Director + CEO, Infrastructure Week

Marvin Gaye Recreation Center Tour with AIA|DC by istudio


Marisa and Rick gave a thorough and descriptive tour of the soon-to-be-open Marvin Gaye Recreation Center.  Some talking points included the building's passive and active sustainable features, designing in a 100-year floodplain, and working with local community involvement.

Thanks to AIA|DC!

Grand Opening of the DC Infrastructure Academy by subLoft


Starting in March of 2018, DC residents can attend the DC Infrastructure Academy to pursue infrastructure jobs with public utility companies in the city.  This program will be used as a bridge between job-searching DC residents and in-demand jobs for companies such as Pepco/Exelon and Washington Gas.

We are proud to be a part of this mayor-initiated project with the team led by Broughton Construction and look forward to following the growth and success of the DC Infrastructure Academy!

Featured Links:

Mayor Muriel Bowser: "As the infrastructure industry continues to grow, we want DC residents to be first in line for these high-paying jobs. Through the DC Infrastructure Academy, we will ensure that more Washingtonians have the skills and knowledge they need to secure a career in a wide-range of growing fields, from utility and transportation to operations and green technologies."

DCW: DC Infrastructure Academy open for business, readies job force for in-demand jobs

DC DOES: "Stop by and say hi! DCIA Address: 2330 Pomeroy Road, SE. #DCIA"