Meet Your Government: Margaret Maliszewski
Principal Planner, Albemarle County
Where were you born (and raised, if different?)
I was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. You probably know it as that city you ride through as you take Amtrak from Washington to New York. (Actually, it has a very nice train station designed by Frank Furness in 1907.)
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I moved back to Charlottesville in late 1997 to work for Albemarle County.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
Belmont. I love being able to have a yard big enough to have a garden (and bees) and still be able to walk from home, to downtown, to work.
Family (spouse, kids, etc)?
I’m married to a guy who loves to fish and hasn’t been on his boat all winter. A fisherman in winter can be a pretty pitiful sight. Thank God Spring is almost here.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I have a BS in Architecture from the Catholic University of America and a Masters in Architectural History from the University of Virginia.
What were you doing before coming to the work for the county?
When I graduated from UVA I moved to New York City and worked for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for about 5 years writing reports that explained the architectural and historical significance of the city’s soon-to-be landmarks. I then moved to central Pennsylvania (culture shock) and did a variety of preservation planning work for two private firms for about 4 years.
Your job title is the Principal Planner - what, in your own words, would you say you do?
Mostly I manage the work of the County’s Architectural Review Board. That means I review architectural plans and site plans for new development along the main roads in the County, and I facilitate the ARB’s review and approval of those plans. I’m also staff to the Historic Preservation Committee. I support the Committee’s efforts to identify historic properties, educate citizens about those properties, and encourage preservation.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part is that the job is never boring and I have a role in making the County a better place to live.
The most difficult part?
Seeing a project that didn’t turn out quite as expected is the most difficult part of the job.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
A big part of design review is trying to keep Albemarle looking like Albemarle – not like every other place in the country. That results in quality design that looks good and feels good. It contributes to our quality of life.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the county?
That’s too hard to narrow down, but here is something that still makes me smile. I remember one project I reviewed for an applicant who really wasn’t happy about going through the process. The road to approval was kind of bumpy, and long. A few weeks after approval, he called. I assumed he was calling to complain, but he was actually calling to thank me. His project was built, he was very happy with it, and he could see the added value in going through the process. I’m smiling.
What is a little known fact about you?
I’m the author of an illustrated architectural dictionary called Architecture and Ornament.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc?
I like to take pictures of old buildings in Italy, but I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like. At home I spend a lot of time cooking. We’re just about ready to remodel the kitchen. It should be done in time to start processing all the fruit and vegetables from this year’s garden – and all those fish.