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michael james blake | portfolio

michael james blake cell: 804.366.1131 email: address; 292 Hideaway Point Topping, VA 23169

“ When we shape the land, we are nature, too.� - Daniel Urban Kiley michael james blake 1

michael james blake education 2003–2008 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Fall 2006 Washington Alexandria Architecture Center Bachelor Landscape Architecture Cumulative GPA: 3.2, In-Major GPA: 3.5 Dean’s List

2000–2003 Rappahannock Community College Associates Degree, General Studies Cumulative GPA: 3.2

computer skills AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Adobe InDesign CS2, Google SketchUp Working knowledge in Adobe Illustrator CS2

professional experience 2007–08 Student Designer, Community Design Assistance Center, Blacksburg, VA Concept development, site visits, analysis development, designed and presented projects to clients, public presentations, attended client meetings, and documented design processes and reports.


• Sharon Park Conceptual Master Plan, Alleghany County, VA • Fairview Village Conceptual Site Master Plan, Abingdon, VA • Walton Park Conceptual Master Plan, Mineral, VA

December 2007 Student Designer, Sunset Cay Charette, Bedford, VA Worked with ACS Design LLC of Roanoke, Virginia on concept development for a mixed use development

consisting of retail, residential, and a lakeside marina for the Sunset Cay community (at Smith Mountain Lake). Objectives included a brief analysis, concentrating on preservation of the lake’s existing shoreline conditions while abiding to local authoritative restraints, both pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems, and presenting the charette materials to the developers.

Architecture (ASLA) , Student Member 2000–2003 Baseball at Rappahannock Community College, 2001–02 Team Captain

January 2003 Student Designer, Mosley Architects Design Charette, Richmond, VA Worked with a student design team for Moseley Architects to generate a conceptual design for a potential future office located in a dilapidated industrial area in Richmond, Virginia that would house 120 architects and engineers combined, who occupy the Moseley Architects current office. Objectives included abiding by LEED standards, historical preservation of existing structures, configuration of parking and vehicular systems, designing a landscaped amenity space for employee usage, and concentrating on urban revitalization.

work experience July - Current, Birdseed’s Electrical Service, Topping, VA Electrical residential and commercial installaition’s

Summer 2006 General Assistant, Urbanna Building Supply, Saluda, VA Stocked building supplies, operated forklift, delivered supplies and materials, customer support, and general facility maintenance.

Summer 2005 Landscape Assistant, Town of Blacksburg, VA Landscape maintenance: planting, tree removal, greenway and streetscape upkeep.


Sigma Lambda Alpha Honors’ Society American Society of Landscape

permanent address 292 Hideaway Point Topping, VA 23169

cell phone 804.366.1131


references Dean Bork | Professor Associate Professor, Architecture Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University E-mail: Office: (540) 231-5487 Local: (540) 961-3678 Kim Steika | Work Associate Project Coordinator Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University E-mail: Office: (540) 231-7259 David M. Witt | Personal Architect Intern Cubellis E-mail: Cell: (540) 230 - 8379

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waac rooftop garden ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA While studying abroad at Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Consortium (WAAC), I took it upon myself to transform the dormitory’s rooftop deck into a usable rooftop garden for its tenants.


The focus behind the garden design was to maximize the experiential quality of the roof by transforming it into a destination, all while promoting and sustaining a sense of environmental performance through a responsible design solution.


In the plan drawing to the right I have divided the rooftop into five activity based spaces, consisting of a series of raised terraces, native plantings, and reclaimed materials draped over a functional greenroof system. These five activity based spaces provide the potential user with an opportunity to participate in both active and passive recreational ventures of his or her choice while promoting water quality within the local community. Space A: Covered Study Lounge / Garden Entry Space B: Atrium Garden / Patio Space C: Raised Lawn and Garden Space D: Raised Deck with Pavilion Space E: Walled-in Utility Area

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Perspective 1

Perspective of rooftop garden looking towards seating platform and water wall.

Perspective 2

Perspective looking across the garden toward the covered pavilion.

Perspective 3

Perspective looking across the atrium garden toward the covered study lounge.

Section A

Section B

Bird’s Eye View

Bird’s eye view of the rooftop garden, calling attention to the raised lawn and recessed glass wall.

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rammed earth house NEWPORT, VIRGINIA While working in a collaborative effort with a student design / build studio of Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture I was given the opportunity of developing a comprehensive master plan for a rammed earth home being built in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. The layout of the residence consists of three rammed earth structures placed on a gentle sloping hillside that includes a detached master suite, a primary living quarters, and a two car garage.



The plan is comprised of three main outdoor spaces that includes a series of three grassed terraces, an outdoor gathering space, and a tree lined entry drive with a detached garage. The focus behind the landscape master plan was to create a sense of transparency between the interior and exterior spaces of the residence. By taking advantage of the structures geometries I was able to extend the central interior spaces of the earthen structures out into the Appalachian countryside, therefore anchoring the buildings to the site and its surroundings.

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Space A: Master Suite Space B: Primary Living Quarters Space C: Two Car Garage Space D: Granite Walled Terraces Space E: Outdoor Gathering Space Space F: Tree Lined Entry Drive


Photograph of the existing entry road looking away from the site.

Photograph taken behind the rammed earth house during the construction phase.

Perspective rendering of the proposed patio and pool behind the home.

Perspective of the terraced lawn looking toward the house Section drawing of the homes patio and pool space.

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monroe park RICHMOND, VIRGINIA In the fall of 2005 I had the opportunity of working with the Monroe Park Foundation and a student design team in an effort to revitalize Richmond’s oldest and most significant public park. Monroe Park is a 7.5-acre public square located within the east end of the cities Historic Fan District. The park is oriented in a classical Victorian fashion with a central wrought iron fountain, radiating paths, historic statues, and a large oak canopy. Over the years the park has evolved into an undesirable landscape, plagued by frequent violence and drugs, and is currently considered an eyesore within the city’s urban fabric. The primary focus behind the master plan was to create a place setting for the convergence of the city’s streets and it’s existing pocket park patterns within Monroe Park. These patterns therefore act as a transitional zone that releases it’s users into both the urban residential and downtown district’s of the city. Space A: Pocket Park Parterre Space Space Space Space Space

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B: Central Plaza C: Corner Plaza’s D: Art Walk E: Open Recreational Space F: Wrought Iron Fountain







Left: Conceptual Stage 1 Analysis drawings during the conceptual phase of the project exploring the uses of the parks surrounding blocks, the neighborhoods within close proximity, and the convergence between the city streets and its existing pocket park patterns. Right: Conceptual Stage 2 Concept drawing derived from the analytical information during the course of the project. The drawing shows the convergence of the cities streets and it’s existing pocket park patterns, forming a parterre that creates a transitional zone into the downtown region from urban residential district.

View of the corner plaza and art walk looking toward the central plaza.

Bird’s eye view of the central plaza and it’s fountain.

Perspective of the relocated wrought iron fountain and parterre looking toward the central plaza.

View of a relocated historic statue and corner plaza.

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alexandria waterfront OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA A

Old Town Aexandria was established as a seaport town in 1749 along the western banks of the Potomac River. The orginal settlement was located approximately six miles south of Washington DC and layed-out in a grid system of 84 rectangular halfacre lots, with the most valuable of those being located along the Potomac Rivers edge. Between 1751 and 1790 more than 400 feet of fill was added to the town’s water frontage, transforming Old Town Alexandria into one of the Atlantic Coast’s prime shipping ports.



During the mid 1860’s through the early 1900’s, Old Town saw a vast economic decline in the use and importance of the cities waterfront. With the Port of Baltimore becoming the regions primary seaport, Alexandria fell victim to a series of factories and water-housing structures cluttering it’s shore. With a non-existent presence of maritime history along Old Town’s waterfront, I took it upon myself to create a new civic edge that would strategically stitch the Potomac River and cities urban fabric together, celebrating the town’s maritime roots.

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Space A: Masonic Temple Space B: King Street Metro Station Space C: King Street Corridor Space D: Washington Street Corridor Space E: Market Square Space F: King Street Waterfront Park

Left: Concept diagram showing the connection between the Potomac waterfront and the urban fabric of Old Town Alexandria. Below: The maps below were created during the analytical phase of the project. These maps were used to trace the development of the cities infrastructure from the mid1700’s to present day, the vast array of community districts within the town, the major vehicular arteries separating the town’s residential and business districts, the primary public space corridor, and the exploration of Alexandria’s waterfront conditions.

Annexation Map

District Map A

District Map B

King Street Analysis Map

Waterfront Map

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alexandria continued OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

The primary focus behind the design of Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront plan was to reconnect the city and its citizens back to the waterfront, through the creation of a new civic edge, celebrating the cities historical maritime roots. The design of the waterfront infuses a strong set of social and spatial relationships, binding the urban fabric of the cities grid system and its citizens with the Potomac River. Through the extension of the cities street corridors beyond the defined or implied boundaries of the waters edge, I was able to create a series of pedestrian oriented promenade’s, parks, and public spaces, that converge along the cities new civic edge. This new civic edge will be comprised of a series of layers, including a interior park system, a mixed-use development, a central gateway plaza, exterior green spaces, a series of terraced pedestrian pathways, and a water taxi pier connecting the main artery of the city, (King Street) to other neighboring cities within the Washington DC region.

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Space A: Inner Park System Space B: Mixed- Use Development Space C: Gateway Plaza Space D: Exterior Green Spaces Space E: Pedestrian Pathways Space F: King Street Pier


Bird’s eye view of the King Street promenade and water taxi pier.

View through promenade area looking toward the Potomac River.

View through the central promenade from the King Street corridor, looking toward the Potomac River.

Perspective of allee seating area within the central promenade.

Section through the promenade showing the terraced walking paths along the Potomac waterfront.

Perspective of inner park system facing seating berms.

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supplemental artwork Throughout my studies at Virginia Tech I had the opportunity of participating in three supplemental graphics courses. During each of these courses I explored a wide palette of mediums, including colored pencil, charcoal, ink, watercolors, computer aided programs and photography. I found these courses to be a valuable asset when effectively bringing my designs to life once the pencil hits the paper. “Artistic exploration is not secondary to anything. We are builders and artists at the same time. One should not take priority over the other if we are truly design professionals.� Peter Lindsay Schaudt, ASLA landscape architecture magazine

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Re-rendering of a Mike Lin drawing.

Live oak canopy in Battery Park, Charleston, SC

Cummins Diesel Headquarters and Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church, Columbus, IN

Paley Park, New York, NY

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michael james blake email: cell: 804-366-1131

blake portfolio  

2008-2009 portfolioalexandria,