• Welcome to Parchment, the blog of David M. Schwarz Architects. In this space our team will share our musings, thoughts, and perspectives about architecture, design, and place making, all of which are rooted in our belief in humanism and a humanistic approach to design that gives us people-sensitive, pedestrian-friendly, socially active architecture defined by characteristics, not style. Our aim is to inform, inspire, and provoke thoughtful discourse about architecture today. We hope you will join the conversation.

Performance Hall Tuning: Ensuring the Sound is Sound

As thrilling as the design and construction of buildings are for architects, the life their creations take on when they start to be used for their intended purpose is even more interesting. Before occupation, though, there is an important intermediate step, known as commissioning. This is when all of the systems, mechanical and otherwise, are tested, balanced … Continue reading

Victoria Terminus

Q&A With 2015 Travel Fellow Valerie Sherry

Valerie Sherry, 2015 David M. Schwarz Architects Traveling Fellow from the University of Maryland recently completed her travels through India and Turkey before starting her 10-week internship here in our Washington, D.C. offices. Valerie will be heading back to the University of Maryland to complete her Master of Architecture program. We caught up with Valerie to … Continue reading

Maggie Q&A Feature

Q&A With 2015 Travel Fellow Maggie Holsinger

One of five recipients of the DMSAS Traveling Fellowship 2015, Maggie Holsinger traveled to the United Kingdom and Ireland before beginning her 10-week internship in our Washington, D.C. office. Before she heads back to Notre Dame to finish the final year of her undergraduate studies, we caught up with Maggie to talk about her travels and … Continue reading

Mt. Gorham in Mount Desert Island, Maine

Our Favorite Vacation Destinations

With the official start of summer only five days away and summer trips already underway, we thought we would share with you some of our staff’s favorite vacation destinations. Ranging in draw from serene and isolated to lively and dense, our staff’s go-to get-away locations are sure to inspire even the most seasoned traveler.   Chicago, Illinois (submitted by … Continue reading

Portland Maine

Portland, Maine: An Old City Becoming New Again

It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since presenting my Graduate Thesis project at University of Maryland. My thesis was an urban renewal project focused on bringing housing and building mass to help re-define streets and park edges in a part of Portland, Maine, from 295 to the downtown waterfront, cut … Continue reading


May The Fourth: About Architecture This Is

May the Fourth – that special day for Star Wars fans everywhere.  It should come as no surprise that DMSAS has its share of “scruffy nerfherders” and “pod-racers.”  Though we don’t hang out at seedy interstellar truck stops in Mos Eisley, we, like most fans, do make our personal critiques of the epic plot and … Continue reading


Designing Contextually in a Place Without Context

Before pursuing the question of what it means to design contextually, we need to make sure we are on the same page about the term context. The dictionary shows it to mean “the circumstances, background or setting where a particular act or event occurs.” As far as architecture is concerned, the context is usually thought … Continue reading

J. Jay McVicker
Small Town Elements
Etching and aquatint, 1949
Credit line: National Building Museum

The Architectural Image: The Collector’s View

The National Building Museum recently conducted an interview with DMSAS President & Founder, David M. Schwarz to discuss one of their current exhibits, The Architectural Image 1920-1950. The exhibit, which is on display from now until May 3rd, is comprised entirely  of works from Mr. Schwarz’s personal collection. Washington Post art & architecture critic Phillip Kennicott reviewed the exhibit … Continue reading


A Toast to the Protector of the Body of Work

Loyal readers, It is with one part personal pride, one part personal joy and many, many parts appreciation that I dedicate this Parchment post to congratulate and celebrate our founder, partner and design leader, David M. Schwarz, the 2015 Richard H. Driehaus Prize Laureate. As most of you know, the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at … Continue reading


Alpharetta City Hall Opens as Centerpiece of New Development

We are pleased to announce and celebrate the grand opening of the new Alpharetta City Hall, at the heart of Alpharetta, Georgia’s new Downtown City Center Master Plan. We would like to congratulate Mayor David Belle Isle, the Alpharetta City Council, and the city of Alpharetta on their new landmark. The traditional design of the … Continue reading

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