After 11 years going to work in Alexandria, Va., David Jameson, FAIA, moved his studio to the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. this past May. He did it so he would be closer to home—he now rides his bike to and from the office most days—but he also made the move in order to work farther away. “In the last five years we’ve been having more overseas interest in our work,” Jameson says, “and telling people you’re from D.C. is more recognizable.”
Jameson has won dozens of local and national awards for his artistic contemporary dwellings built in the D.C. area and now his star is rising across more global horizons. Of the 11 projects the firm currently has in progress, five of them are long-distance with locations ranging from southern Virginia to California to Vietnam. The architect also designed projects in Dubai that were never built, he says, “but it did help us understand how to work on something so far away.”
The firm’s recent influx of far-flung commissions is the result of “working hard and lots of luck,” Jameson explains. He took advantage of slow economic times to enter more competitions and send project images to design publications around the world. He also stuck to his scrutinizing standards when taking on new clients. “We continued to be selective about the projects we took on in the studio even during the downturn,” Jameson says. “Every project you do affects other ones in the future.”
It’s easy to see the results of that philosophy when looking over the progression in Jameson’s portfolio. Although his earliest projects received accolades and awards, he continues to devise more inventive concepts. Even his new office, which he describes as being more like an art gallery than an architecture studio, reflects the perpetual refinement in his work. Representations of pieces by Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd, and Martin Puryear adorn the open space and provide some of the best influence to Jameson. “They all have ideas rooted in sculpture,” he says, “and I find tectonic inspiration there.”
Catching the eye of international clients took considerable effort, but designing for remote locations such as Hanoi and Dubai doesn’t present a challenge for the firm. Jameson claims the process is pretty similar when creating a house for a site regardless of whether it’s five miles or 5,000 miles away. “Whether it’s building a house on the shores of Eastern Maryland, or in Hanoi, Vietnam,” he says, “they all have a context and materials specific to the area that informs the way we design.”
Years in practice: 12 / Firm size: 9 / Active projects: 11 / Projects completed in 2011: 4 / Areas of interest: single-family, commercial / www.davidjamesonarchitect.com.