SmithGroup promotes Varner, Bull and Wood at Washington, DC office

SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading architecture, engineering and planning firms, has promoted David Varner to office director, Bob Bull to director of operations, and Chris Wood to Cultural Studio leader at the firm’s Washington, DC office.

David Varner, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, new Office Director, succeeds Russell Perry, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, who remains as co-director of sustainability for the firm. In his new role as director for the 200-person office, Varner will focus on strengthening its design presence and the unique culture of its workplace, which integrates architects, engineers, interior designers, planners and other design professionals and specialists. Varner is nationally recognized for his expertise in asset repositioning – a holistic approach of transforming undesirable, older properties into highly marketable, in-demand real estate. Examples of the firm’s asset repositioning successes in DC include the two-million-square-foot Constitution Center, a gut-renovation now fully leased; and the bustling L’Enfant Plaza. In addition to the workplace market, Varner’s experience also encompasses higher education, hospitality and government projects. 

Among the professional organizations with which Varner is active is the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization founded with 35,000 members worldwide. A popular speaker, Varner served as a guest presenter at the U.S. Department of Energy series, “Building in the 21st Century.” The Houston, Texas native is a graduate of Rice University with a BA in Architecture and Art/Art History, followed by a Bachelor of Architecture degree. 

Bob Bull, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, has been appointed as Director of Operations, rising from project manager. He replaces Steven Cohen, who relocated to the SmithGroup office in San Francisco to serve in the same capacity. In his new role as director of operations, Bull will oversee all operational and financial aspects of the office, while working closely with Varner to provide leadership, management and vision to ensure growth and efficiency. A specialist in design and planning for higher education clients, Bull has managed some of the office’s most noteworthy projects, including the  Washington College of Law at American University, now finishing construction in DC and the new Villanova University School of Law,  Villanova, Pennsylvania. Bull joined the firm in 1995 as a project architect. A native of Solon, Ohio, he is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree. 

Chris Wood, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is the office’s new Cultural Studio Leader. He succeeds Hal Davis, FAIA, LEED AP, who transitions back to practice in the studio and is leading SmithGroup’s work with other members of the design team, Freelon Adjaye Bond, for the much anticipated, $500 million National Museum of African American History and Culture, under construction on the National Mall and scheduled to complete in fall 2016. Wood, a specialist in archival, collections care and museum projects, previously served as project architect in the Cultural Studio. Presently, he is project manager for the firm’s design of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Conservation and Collections Center, now under construction and targeting completion in summer 2017. Over the past decade, Wood has played an integral role on many of the studio’s most celebrated completions, including the Washington National Cathedral Visitor Gateway, as well as the National Museum of the American Indian. Wood joined SmithGroup in 1999 and is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree. He is a native of Annandale, Virginia.

For over 50 years, SmithGroup has designed many of the most noteworthy buildings in Washington, DC, working with leading clients from the healthcare, higher education, corporate, cultural and government sectors. As metropolitan Washington, DC has grown and evolved, SmithGroup has helped lead the way with the design of many of its most significant downtown projects, as well as development related to transit and neighborhoods. Recently completed projects designed by the office include the two-year, $12 million renovation to the White House Visitor Center as well as 1700 New York Avenue, located in the heart of Washington, DC’s monumental core and the location of SmithGroup’s LEED Platinum office. The firm also designed the award-winning, LEED Gold Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, recently opened in Germantown, Maryland.

SmithGroup-designed projects continue to be among the District’s most newsworthy. The firm is responsible for the design of some of the region’s most significant new construction underway, including the $400 million Museum of the Bible, targeting completion in 2017. SmithGroup is serving as architect-of-record for the new, one-million-square-foot, $700 million MGM Grand National Harbor Resort, targeting 2016 completion and LEED Gold certification. Among the projects the office currently has on the boards is the new, 150,000-square-foot, $55 million, world-class headquarters for DC Water (District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority), which will rise along the shoreline of the Anacostia River in 2017.

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