It’s been almost a year since we’ve had in-person, in-office gatherings with our coworkers and quarter one is usually a time when we’re gathering and celebrating a ton at Cripe. We gather for a pancake lunch, chili cookoff, St. Patrick’s Day, and March Madness just to name a few.
If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that we can still have fun and celebrate in the midst of COVID-19. It just takes some ingenuity and creative thinking.
Luckily, our Talent + Brand team has creativity in spades!
At the beginning of quarter one, every single employee received a box of fun which held all things necessary to hold a close to normal three months of festivities!
In February, we kicked off celebrations with our annual pancake lunch to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Each employee received pancake batter mix and a Mardi Gras mask and beads to get in the mood! Once the pancakes were made, we all joined together on Zoom to share secrets to making the best pancakes, Lent challenges (we have someone who isn’t going to go to the grocery store or out to eat until the food in their house is gone), and an all-around good time!
We had some new additions, as we’ve been working at home with new “co-workers” for the past year, but it was good to see how much some of the Cripe kiddos have grown as well as some furry faces who were just drooling over the delicious breakfast foods.
A signature feature of our Fat Tuesday pancake lunch is the King Cake. Don’t think it didn’t happen just because we weren’t together in our office. A few lucky winners had the word “baby” written on the bottom of their pancake mix and won gift cards!
The following week has been our chili cookoff for a very long time. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to host our normal crew of judges and competitors, but employees were treated to chili fixings and once again we got together virtually to enjoy the fellowship of our coworkers.
In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, employees were given scratch-off lottery tickets to try their luck. We haven’t heard of any big winners yet, but maybe the 17th is the actual lucky day!
This year has been unique and difficult in many ways, but in other ways it has only caused us to grow stronger, more resilient, and to realize the importance of connection. At Cripe, we’re not letting this pandemic get in the way of our celebrations and the fun we have as a group. We’ll keep getting together however we can to enjoy each other’s company and keep the hope up that we’ll be together in our office for all of these celebrations next year!
Cripe was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana. This 16th annual program was created by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Best Companies Group.
This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the participating employers in Indiana with the leading workplace cultures. The list is made up of 125 companies.
“We have many tremendous employers in the state, so it’s great to see more and more companies take part in this effort to evaluate their workplace cultures and gain the recognition they deserve,” says Indiana Chamber President, Kevin Brinegar. “These companies consistently demonstrate to their employees how much they value their contributions.”
To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
– Be a for-profit, not-for-profit business or government entity;
– Be a publicly or privately held business;
– Have a facility in Indiana;
– Have at least 15 employees working in Indiana;
– Be in business a minimum of 1 year.
“With the extreme and unexpected challenges of 2020… Company culture went far beyond the official benefits and perks to worker safety and taking job flexibility to levels that most couldn’t have imagined. All the employers honored should be especially proud to be on the list this year.”
Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in Indiana. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Indiana, analyzed the data, and determined the final rankings.
The final rankings will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 6, 2021, and then published in the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine after the event.
For more information on the Best Places to Work in Indiana program, visit www.BestPlacestoWorkIN.com.
The experience of being a mentor and/or being mentored can be transformational. The privilege, and responsibility of mentoring is understood and practiced at Cripe – both internally and externally. Sharing lessons learned and professional acumen serves not only our staff but our community.
Cripe employees understand the importance of paying forward and serving the communities we build.
This practice and belief coincides perfectly with National Mentoring Month in January. Our CEO and Chairman, Al Oak, embodies Cripe’s dedication to not only mentoring, but community service as a whole. Al is a current Big Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. He is currently serving as a “Big Brother” for the third time; this time sharing mentoring responsibilities with Max Wurster, Assistant Project Manager, Wurster Construction, and former Cripe team member.
In 2019, Oak was honored with the Community Mentor Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. He is a role model for all employees in his dedication to our community. For Al, mentoring as had a significant influence on his life. He says, “For me, mentoring has been both impactful and gratifying. It is also a significant opportunity for personal growth.”
Another annual event has come and gone looking a little differently than it did last year. Founder’s Day is hugely important at Cripe, but 2020 made us get creative with how we celebrated the birthday of our Founder, Paul I. Cripe.
Last year, we merged our Day of Service with Founder’s Day to create a day full of philanthropy and team building.
Like so many events in 2020, Founder’s Day was virtual this year, but that does not mean it was any less impactful or fun. Going virtual also meant that we were able to learn more lessons than we might have learned otherwise.
A huge lesson that Founder’s Day in 2020 taught us, is that above all else we must always persevere. Just because there were obstacles, did not mean that we were going to cancel the event or miss an opportunity to gather as an entire company.
No. Instead of giving up, we went to the drawing board and came up with some unique ways to celebrate.
Members of our senior leadership team dropped off goody boxes to employees’ homes (masked up and six feet apart of course). The boxes contained snacks to enjoy during the virtual celebration, some new branded gear for everyone and much more!
We recognized new hires, promotions, retirements, and those who had phased into their vested employee-ownership. 2020 may have slowed some things down, but we were able to grow as a firm and welcomed many new faces and congratulated our colleagues for their hard work and achievements. The directors of architecture, civil engineering and land surveying gave updates on the efforts of our different service lines and encouraged us to keep working hard through the end of 2020 and beyond!
Another recognition was the winner of the Ila M. Badger Community Service Award.
Cripe does not give out many awards throughout the year, so the Ila M. Badger Community Service Award is very important to the firm and highly anticipated. It is awarded to an employee who has done exceptional work within our community to make it a better place. Our winner this year, Christy Villas, was surprised at her home with a check from the Cripe Charitable Foundation that she can give to a community service organization of her choosing.
Last year, on our Day of Service we volunteered as a company with Million Meal Movement. This year, it wasn’t possible to gather with that many people, but two new initiatives, introduced by Fred Green, were created to ensure that our philanthropy efforts continue to make an impact.
The first was the rollout of eight additional hours that each employee will receive beginning in 2021 in order to volunteer. Employees will be able to take paid time off to pursue philanthropic and community service initiatives of their choosing. This will allow Cripe employees to make an impact in our communities even if we are still unable to gather as a large group and complete a Day of Service together, though of course we hope that isn’t the case.
The other initiative came in the goody boxes that were dropped off to employees. During the Founder’s Day program, everyone was told to remove the envelope labeled “Pay it Forward 2020” and open it at the same time.
Inside was $40. Employees were instructed to use that money to pay it forward in any way they saw fit. It could be through a cash donation to a cause they care about, using the money at a locally owned business to help keep them operating through this difficult time, or anything else Cripe employees might judge to benefit their communities.
Many of our employees have already “Paid It Forward” and below are just a few examples:
- Giving extra tips to food and grocery delivery drivers
- Donating to Wheeler Mission
- Donating to cosmetologists and other service workers who have been affected by quarantine regulations
- Donating to Gleaners Food Bank and other food pantries
- Donating to girls sports groups
- Purchasing cold weather clothing items and donating them to PourHouse
- Supplying pet food and other necessities for animal shelters
- Purchasing gifts for children in the foster care system who are not currently placed in a home
- Giving it to their children who then decided to donate it to Make-A-Wish
- Donating to Angel Tree so a young boy could have sports equipment for Christmas
- Donating through a church to help purchase a gift basket for two sisters in the ICU
- Purchasing a Christmas gift for their mentee who doesn’t usually receive anything
- Donating the money, along with a sink and other tools and supplies, to a local family who needed a bathroom renovation completed, but didn’t have the means
- Purchased grocery gift cards for local families in need
- Secretly purchasing an ice cream treat for a young family with a handicapped member
Many of our colleagues are keeping their Pay It Forward money handy, knowing that they will be called to use it in a way they hadn’t expected or hadn’t planned out, such as at a restaurant or in line to buy groceries.
Even though we couldn’t gather and work on one large community service project as we have in year’s past or participate in Founder’s Day festivities in person, Cripe was still able to make a big impact on our community and celebrate the achievements of the past year!
Cripe has been a part of the Stanley E. Hunt Real Estate Development Case Competition from the beginning in 2008. As Director of Real Estate, Al Oak and his wife Shary, oversee the creation of the competitions each year and the Cripe Charitable Foundation has supported the event since the beginning as well.
This year, Al Oak, Chairman + CEO, Fred Green, President + COO, and Denny Southerland, Vice President of Sales, were all judges for the virtual competition and Dennis McGuire, Vice President of Survey + Real Estate Services was a guest speaker.
Over 20 teams in the Real Estate Development & Appraisal class presented development plans for a former hospital site in downtown Bloomington, but only the top four were chosen to compete in the final competition.
This year, there was a tie for first place! Both the team of CJ Alexander, Cameron Hess, Wilder North, and Samuel Pittman, as well as the team of Dilan Rajpurkar, Michael Romanelli, Jeff Serbin, and Torin Siegel will receive a $1000 prize.
The Stanley E. Hunt Real Estate Development Case Competitions are one of the most enjoyable events Cripe takes part in and supports throughout the year and even though, much like many other events this year, it was a little different, it was a still a huge success!
There is a story in our office that every employee knows.
It’s the story of the pocket watch. Our founder, Paul I. Cripe, was a man of integrity and placed that value as the backbone of his company. He knew that he couldn’t expect his employees to do things he wasn’t willing to do and he couldn’t expect them to produce their best work if he wasn’t willing to do the same.
Cripe was founded in 1937 and even if you’re not a history buff, you know those were hard times for our nation economically. Our founder wasn’t exempt from these hard times.
There were several instances where the money just wasn’t there to handle payroll and so Mr. Cripe would take his beloved pocket watch and pawn it so that he could pay his employees. He would later go buy it back when money came into the company, but it wasn’t a onetime occurrence. He repeated that cycle several times to ensure that not only his company, but his employees were able to survive through economic hardship.
83 years ago, Paul I. Cripe taught us what it meant to be a true servant leader and to be accountable to an enterprise he started and the people he had hired. we carry that with us today.
In our office, we talk often about the pocket watch. It now sits in our CEO’s office as a reminder to all who see it that they work for a company that, from the executives all the way down to our newest entry level hires, walks the walk.
For our clients and our partners, it means that we carry the quote “If it’s to be; it’s up to me” into every project and meeting. Cripe employees aren’t going to wait for someone else to take charge or to do the work. They are going to take responsibility on a personal level to do the very best job they can do for every project on which they work. They know that they must be accountable to their clients, partners and colleagues and that it starts with them.
Nearly every one of our values has stemmed from this mentality of accountability. We pride ourselves on a project management system, the Cripe Way, that prioritizes taking charge and being in communication with clients and partners. Communication is a great way to remain accountable. Our employees know that it is crucial to remain on top of ever changing client wants and needs as well as external requirements. They’re not going to sit back and let information come to them. If they did that, they might miss something crucial. No. They’re going to be proactive and get the information and answers they need to ensure that our clients and partners have as seamless an experience as possible with Cripe.
Many things have changed over the 83 years since Cripe was founded, but many have not. Our company’s dedication to integrity and accountability have remained steadfast throughout the decades. Those values paired with our dedication to being on the cutting edge is what has allowed us to continue on in much the same way over the past few months, despite our uncertain times. Our workspaces and officemates have changed since we’re been remote, but our way of doing things, the very values that were set forth so many years ago, have not.
Accountability is a mindset, not a skillset and we thank Mr. Cripe for instilling that mentality into his company so many years ago.
- Advocate – noun – a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
synonyms: champion · upholder · supporter · backer · promoter · proponent
At Cripe, we take the above definition very seriously. First and foremost, we are client advocates. With new and returning clients, we learn their unique stories, histories and needs for each and every project. We do this whether we’ve worked with that client on multiple projects or if it’s the very first one. We don’t have cookie cutter responses that fit every client.
Through our project management model, the Cripe Way, we schedule meetings throughout the entire process because we know that needs can change. Communication channels are always open between Cripe and the client.
We are advocates for our clients by maintaining positive working relationships with our elected officials and community agencies. Cripe not only believes in relationships with our clients, but also with other entities that can make the processes smoother for our clients and ourselves.
Recently, we were contacted by a past client to assist with solving a civil engineering project problem. For context, this past client already had an architect, civil engineer, and surveyor. In other words, there was no immediate motivation to help solve their problem. However, because of our belief in advocating for our clients past, present, and future, we used our network and positive relationship with the local utility department to assist this past client and were able to reach a solution that assisted them and ultimately advanced their project.
We are advocates for our clients in that we maintain positive relationships with our subcontractors, allied professionals and even our competitors.
Another recent example would be being contacted by a client to submit a proposal for a project that we could not assist them with at the time. We referred the client to a competing firm who was able to submit a proposal and complete the work. In the broader view of things, this was a win. Similarly, we have been contacted on more than one occasion to quietly support strategic partners with survey, civil and architectural services while being sensitive to their client relationship.
We are advocates for our community and clients in the causes we support. We like to support those groups that support our community. A few examples include the Cripe Hob Nob Policy Intern Scholarship we give in partnership with the Indy Chamber and our CEO’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Not only have we done work for the latter organization, but our CEO and other members of our staff have participated in the program as mentors.
At Cripe, as Employee Owners, our advocacy extends to our teammates, which is illustrated from our culture and a firm belief that in taking care of our people we provide the best service to our clients.
Our vision statement says it all, Cripe is an award-winning Indiana MBE multidisciplinary design firm. We are problem solvers, servant leaders and client advocates. We listen to understand in order to consistently deliver high quality design solutions.
A lot has changed in a very short amount of time for all of us. Businesses around the country have had to do some major maneuvering to keep the health of the employees and clients as the very top priority.
At Cripe, that’s no different. After over a year of extensive research, testing and implementation, we can say that our employees have the ability to work from anywhere. With all the COVID-19 guidelines going into place, that remote capability has never been more important.
Outside of the technology, another thing that Cripe is continuing to utilize is our proven project management skills. Being physically away from our teams and unable to meet with our clients in person has provided new challenges, but it is definitely a challenge we are up for.
We have the methodology – the Cripe Way – in place to get us through this current challenge and many others, but it is not just a methodology we use when there are extenuating circumstances. This is a way of doing things that we use every single day and have since 1937 when our founder, Paul I. Cripe, created his core principles.
The Cripe Way stems from Mr. Cripe’s deep belief in Accountability. Over the years, especially with recent staff, it has been turned into an entire project management code of conduct and promise to our clients that we will get any job done with communication and efficiency.
Mr. Cripe may not have expected for his core principle of Accountability to be utilized during a time like the one we are living in now, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. The beauty of the Cripe Way is that it works all the time, no matter what is going on in the office or the world at large, as we are learning now.
Above all else, the Cripe Way stresses the importance of planning, communication and meetings with clients so that we know exactly what our clients need , schedules to keep everyone and budgets on track, quality control along the way to ensure efficiency and understanding not only our client’s businesses, but their perspectives as well. The only thing that has changed are our meeting spaces and perhaps managing how to work with partners, children and pets, but those things are no match for the Cripe Way and the project management skills Cripe employees have been sharpening for the last 83 years.
We don’t only use these skills externally, but internally as well. We’ve been keeping connected with our colleagues through virtual meetings and sharing tips and tricks for the unique challenges that working from home can pose. From technology tips to potty training to setting up effective workspaces we’ve shared it all!
The Cripe Way allows room for us to feel like a family. These aren’t cold rules that are only intended for projects, they allow our team to act as a family to one another and to those outside our team who are also working through a wide range of unique situations during this uncertain time.
While many things have changed, some have not. You can still find our field survey team out and about in Indianapolis and surrounding areas putting the Cripe Way to good use as they continue to tend to essential business outside while all is quiet.
This time has been challenging for most people, but Cripe is using foundations that were put in place over 80 years ago to continue to serve our clients, partners and colleagues to continue to not only get the job done, but to get it done with the same excellent project management skills that our clients and partners have come to know and rely on over the years.
Our two first clients in 1937 are still our clients today.
Yes. You read that right. We have had our first clients remain loyal clients for 83 years. Here at Cripe, we think that means we’re doing something right.
There are so many things that go into making these lasting partnerships happen. Paul I. Cripe built an outstanding foundation all those years ago and we’re proud to say that we continue to build on these foundations, update them to serve the needs of existing and new clients and utilize new technologies to meet the ever-evolving and modern demands of the various industries we serve.
To maintain such long-lasting client relationships though, Mr. Cripe understood that there was a bigger, more holistic picture than just delivering innovative design solutions. He created core values which included, Accountability, Integrity and Community Service.
He turned those values into a blueprint comprising of The Cripe Way, Cripe Leadership Model and Cripe Charitable Foundation. These all still stand today in order to best serve all our clients across our internal departments and external market sectors and industries.
The Cripe Way is many things, but overall it embodies the quote Mr. Cripe liked best: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” This simple saying is known by every single employee at Cripe and they live it every day with every client and their colleagues. The Cripe Way is a project management tool that we live by at Cripe so that we can serve our clients without having details fall through the cracks. Above all else, it stresses the importance of communications and meetings with clients so that we know exactly what they’re looking for, schedules to keep everyone on track, quality control along the way to ensure efficiency and understanding not only our client’s businesses, but their perspectives as well.
The Cripe Leadership Model is more of an internal structure that we use to measure how well our employees are doing across several markers that we find highly important at Cripe. These values range from professionalism to living Cripe values. Checking in like this and having important conversations about internal performance ensures that we are giving our absolute best to our clients. Our employees are always willing to learn and grow to continue to best serve not only the clients, but their colleagues as well.
If you’ve been following us or reading our blogs, you know how important community service is. With the establishment of the Cripe Charitable Foundation, we’ve donated over a million education focused dollars, our employees volunteer over 65 hours per year on average and our employees support over 132 community organizations of their choosing. We are invested in our clients of course, but that goes so much further that providing design solutions. We’re invested in improving the communities in which we live, work and play and those communities include our clients, their businesses and even their families.
83 years after Mr. Cripe laid the foundations, employees are still living by those values and that’s why we can proudly say that we’ve had a few of the same clients since our founding in 1937.
1937 seems like a long time ago and it really was. Cripe had a simple beginning as a survey firm. It was not the firm of 2020 that it is now, providing architecture and civil engineering in addition to the original survey services. And those services just skim the surface. We’ve expanded into medical equipment planning, real estate services, interior design work and so much more.
83 years may seem like a long time, but we haven’t stopped moving and growing and expanding into new services and market sectors. Over those 83 years we’ve done projects from airports to college campuses to parks to hospitals. We’re not stopping there either. In the last few years, we’ve increased our focus on re-purposing previously standing spaces and sustainability.
Don’t be alarmed when you see that Cripe has been in business since 1937. It doesn’t mean our business practices are stagnant. Our employees and leadership are constantly learning and bettering themselves as architects, engineers and surveyors. Continuing to educate ourselves is so important and continuing to enhance our practices with new technology has made us the firm we are today and the firm we are continuing to grow into.
The foundation of our company laid out by Paul I. Cripe is still strong underneath the new practices we’ve utilized. To this day, our company culture revolves around the principles laid down by our founder.
Mr. Cripe understood that to holistically serve our clients, delivering innovative design solutions was not the whole picture. He believed a firm must embody the core values of Accountability, Integrity and Community Service. This valued blueprint brought into being The Cripe Way (Accountability), Cripe Leadership Model (Integrity) and Cripe Charitable Foundation (Community Service).
Every team member knows the story of the watch. In the early years, Mr. Cripe pawned his prized pocket watch to meet payroll. The watch – a living reminder of true servant leadership and accountability– sits in our CEO’s office today. When Mr. Cripe said, “If It is to be; it’s up to me” – he meant it – and so do we.
What does this mean for you? Whether you are a client, a partner firm, a community partner or anyone else know that our celebrated project management skills that were set down from the beginning and sharpened over time will get the results you want. Our staff, comprised of lifelong learners, will get the job done no matter what obstacles, known or unknown, come their way.
We understand that we are part of a community bigger than ourselves. We give our very best to each project, knowing that it will enhance the community whether it is a college campus, skate park or medical office building. We also know how important it is to give back to those communities in which we work, live and play. As a company we participate in many philanthropic events a year, going so far as to dedicate one whole day a year as our Day of Service. In addition, we do a Giving Tree holiday drive that benefits a family in our community and our interns choose a philanthropic organization and organize events and fundraisers to benefit that organization over the summer they spend at Cripe.
It doesn’t stop there. Cripe employees are so active in the community on their own that we host an award ceremony to recognize the change these employees are enacting in their communities and it’s always hard for the committee to choose just one winner each year.
83 years is a very long time. But we’re not frozen in time at Cripe. Each and every one of those years has brought us to new heights in the design services we offer and our community impact. We couldn’t get to those heights if it weren’t for the very solid foundation laid down in 1937 by Paul I. Cripe. Here’s to the next 83!
The end of a year is often a time to look forward to the coming year and all the changes that could come with that new year. It is also a time to look back on the past year and the traditions that have stood for a long time.
At Cripe, we have many traditions, but we seem to really pack them in at the end of the year. From community service to spending time with our colleagues and celebrating their achievements there is a lot going on from November to Christmas.
This year, we merged a couple of traditions. In mid-November, we combined our annual Day of Service with our Founder’s Day Celebration.
The day started with the intention of packing 10,000 meals at Million Meal Movement. It quickly became apparent that we were going to accomplish that goal early. By the end of our allotted time we had packed nearly 13,000 meals, blowing way past our original goal.
Following our morning of community service, we went to TopGolf to enjoy good food and the company of our colleagues. Before the friendly competition could begin, we celebrated those of our coworkers who give so much back to their communities. It was a hard decision for the judges to choose between so many people who do so much. The prize for one dedicated winner is the Isla M. Badger Community Service Award, an award that was established in 1987 by the Cripe Charitable Foundation and which awards $1,000 to the 501(3)c of the winner’s choice.
This year there were nominees who serve their churches, their local pet rescues, tutor homeless students, volunteer with the young community of aspiring architects, and so much more. It was truly inspiring to see how much impact the Cripe family has on their communities.
After that, the golfing began!
Once the celebrations were over, we set out on the important annual work of our Giving Tree initiative.
Each year we pick a deserving family who is experiencing some extenuating circumstances around the holidays and we provide them with gifts and necessities to lighten their load.
This year, we worked with Andrew J. Brown Academy to select a family and find out what they most wanted and needed this holiday season. We had a kick-off discussion at our monthly Cripe Huddle and then it was off to shopping. Within a few days, there was no room left under our office Christmas tree as everyone made contributions to the family.
When it was time to deliver the items to the family’s house the week before Christmas, it took several cars to do so. The family was beyond grateful and hearts were warmed at Cripe when the exchange was retold by the few that attended.
Our traditions are what make us unique, what bind us together as more than just coworkers. After a year of working hard and achieving goals within the office, we understand the importance of stepping back and focusing on serving others as well as spending time outside of the office with the people we spend our time with in the office.
Tomorrow we’ll look forward to the New Year, but today we’re going to think about the past year and the impact it had on us all.
Happy New Year from the Cripe family to you and yours!
By Christopher Reinhart, Director | Sustainability + Research
On a crisp and sunny morning early this month, a small group started our day sipping toasty coffee and nibbling on tasty lemon poppyseed muffins from the local co-op, Bloomingfoods. We sat on the sunny outdoor plaza on the south side of The Mill, “Bloomington’s center of gravity for innovators, remote workers, entrepreneurs, and creators,” where Cripe’s Bloomington office is located. This lovely outdoor space is at the heart of the Trades District, a focal point of recent and continuing development in the city. We gathered here not just to enjoy some camaraderie, our morning treats, and a beautiful Bloomington day, but also to discuss biophilia and biophilic design, and how we find it around us in the spaces we inhabit each day.
This event was hosted by the Bloomington Living Future Collaborative, a local advocacy group which I co-facilitate, dedicated to the restorative work of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), whose mission is to “lead the transformation toward a civilization that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative.” There are many local collaboratives around the country and the world, like ours, that provide education and engagement opportunities in our local communities to encourage positive transformation of our built environment.
And on this delightful fall morning, we weren’t the only ones gathered to discuss the human-nature connection and how it can be expressed through design to enrich our daily lives. In Columbus, Ohio, another Living Future Collaborative was gathered around the same concept. The idea to have these gatherings in various cities throughout the Ohio Valley was the brainchild of Andy McIntyre, Regional Sales Manager for Kingspan Insulated Panels. At the Living Future “unConference” several years ago, Andy heard that the collaborative in Australia had a done a “walking beauty tour,” and the idea stuck with him.
As Andy thought about doing a similar event here stateside, he realized that it would be a great opportunity to build regional connections. “The Ohio Valley region has all these things in common… when you look at the climate and the building archetypes, the people doing business in the region, the people designing in these areas… we all have a lot in common in terms of our challenges and similarities,” he told me. Based on a suggestion from ILFI’s Sunni Wissmer, Andy decided to call the event #ResilientBeauty—the hashtag being a way that participants from around the region could tag the photos that we took on our walks so that we could all see what others were up to. Searching the hashtag would yield a tapestry of photographs highlighting the beauty and human-nature connection expressed throughout the Ohio Valley region. The title also references the upcoming Building Resilience conference, in Cleveland, Ohio on November 7 and 8.
In both Columbus and here in Bloomington, the event began with a discussion and overview of biophilia and biophilic design. The scientist E.O. Wilson has described biophilia as the innate connection between humans and nature. Biophilic design is an approach that centers around this connection, seeks to understand the physiological and psychological effects it has on people, and develops patterns for practically implementing these ideas into designs. At the forefront of this practice is Terrapin Bright Green, a firm that has published many wonderful resources on the web related to biophilic design. In Bloomington, we used their report “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design: Improving Health and Well-Being in the Built Environment” as the basis for our conversation.
As we talked through the various patterns of biophilic design, participants shared ways that they have experienced these patterns in their homes, workplaces and cities. This conversational approach allowed everyone, even those not previously familiar with biophilic design, to get a feel for the concepts and patterns that we would be looking for as we explored the B-Line Trail, a rails-to-trails project that forms a curving spine—the backbone of our pedestrian and bicycle network—that runs through our city and adjacent to The Mill. Attendees were given a handout with the patterns listed to refer back to during our walk on the B-Line, as we sought to find these patterns expressed around us.
Our group began as a small core of four people, but as we walked, talked, and photographed our way along the B-Line and through the Farmer’s Market, we engaged many more friends that we encountered in our adventure. I was delighted to see some of our participants eagerly sharing their new knowledge with others. Biophilic design is easy-to-understand, and once you begin seeing the patterns at work, you can start to see them expressed in big and small ways all around us. Everyone left the event in great spirits and with a much better understanding of biophilic design.
The Columbus, Ohio, event was also a big success, drawing fourteen people. Johnna Keller, co-facilitator of the Columbus Living Future Collaborative and event organizer told me, “I was pleasantly surprised that the event drew people from all walks of life—not just from the building profession but also from the community at large. I thought a beautiful outcome of the event was that people were connecting with this idea of biophilia and biophilic design on a new level, not necessarily on a design level but more on a human, instinctual level.”
Johnna, like myself, is a design professional with a focus on sustainability, and we were both delighted to find a meaningful way to engage non-designers with a topic that may be new and unfamiliar, but that has a profound impact on the ways we feel in our built environments. Oftentimes, design can seem inscrutable because it is cloaked in technical language. Experiences like this, that help people connect through their senses with design principles, help overcome the barriers of technical jargon and generate an understanding that anyone can carry forward to positively impact their environments.
Because of the success of the events, and the positive feedback we received from all those that attended, Andy, Johnna, and I have already begun brainstorming for a similar event for next year, with a fun new twist—a photographic scavenger hunt for biophilic design principles! If you are interested in this event or similar events, feel free to email me and join the Bloomington Living Future Collaborative mailing list. In the meantime, you can learn more about biophilic design through the ILFI’s Biophilic Design Initiative. Look around you in your home and workspace and discover ways that biophilic design is already a part of your life. What new ways can you find to strengthen the human-nature connection in the spaces you inhabit?
Giving back to the communities we live, work and play in is very important at Cripe.
This month, we’ve kicked off our season of giving by hosting a representative from United Way of Central Indiana at this month’s Cripe Huddle. This organization embodies so much of what we stand for at Cripe and also donates funds to many of the organizations we are involved with.
“United Way of Central Indiana fights for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of every person in our Central Indiana Community.” That quote comes from information on the United Way’s Basic Needs Fund, which provides the essentials of food, shelter, health and transportation to the most vulnerable living our community.
Our employees have served as volunteers and board members and others have received valuable training through United Way programs. In short, we are so thankful for the relationship we have with this incredible organization.
Our season of giving begins with participating in the United Way workplace campaign, where Cripe team members are able to give financially. That money will go the United Way’s three new Impact Funds:
- Basic needs – Helping the most vulnerable in our community
- Family Opportunity – Supporting the whole family on a path to self-sufficiency
- Social Innovation – Sparking new ideas to break the cycle of poverty
These Impact Funds have been created in order to help ALICE, which stands for:
Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed
These are people who hold jobs that are critical to the success of the community, but they are barely surviving paycheck-to-paycheck.
If a monetary donation isn’t right for you, your time is just as valuable as money. The United Way has so many volunteer opportunities that speak to the interests of almost everyone. Some programs include ReadUP Tutoring, Moment to Movement, Tax Prep Volunteering, and Disaster Response Reception Center Volunteering. There is truly something for everyone, so please consider donating in whatever capacity you can. Every little bit makes a difference for our vulnerable neighbors.
United Way of Central Indiana kicks off our season of giving, but stayed tuned to our social media channels and website in the coming months as we participate in Cripe’s Annual Day of Giving, this year at Million Meal Movement and Giving Tree, a 36 year tradition or sharing the holiday spirit with others.
For more information on all the ways we give back throughout the year, visit our “About” page and scroll down to the Com
munity Service section.
In 2015, Cripe began working with Near East Area Renewal (NEAR) in partnership with TWG studying the redevelopment of Minnie Hartmann/School 78.
The existing buildings were completely rehabbed including masonry repair, extensive site redevelopment with storm water capture, new interior finishes, new windows, plumbing systems, electrical infrastructure and lighting. A charming rain forest mural at the western end of the 1929 building’s main corridor was preserved in homage to the school. There were opportunities to salvage and reuse existing finishes, particularly the classroom maple floors in the 1929 building. The completed project provides 64 units of affordable senior adult housing and is completely accessible to the disabled on all levels. This is no mean feat given that the only floor in the structure that is continuous is the main level proper.
An 11,000 square foot day care will be built in 2020 creating an early learning center for approximately 120 children. The result will be an intergenerational facility with programs engaging children and seniors under one roof, the first of its kind in Indiana. The Institute for Family Studies notes: “Should seniors and toddlers go to day care together? It’s a strange sounding question, but a growing number of day care facilities around the country say yes. And an emerging body of research suggests that doing so is good for both the young and old.”
The existing building consists of the 1929 school and two additions, an addition on the east in the 1950s and on the west in the 1960s. New construction was added on the north creating a “U” shaped plan. The new building includes brick veneer and cast stone accents at the first story in response to the original building’s brick and stone. The second and third floors of the new building use durable fiber cement siding in warm tones to complement the existing masonry.
It has been said that the greenest building is the one that already exists—a comment that is especially true when the design of the renovations prioritizes energy efficiency and green features.
Minnie Hartmann Center has received a National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Emerald rating with several features deserving mention. First, a sunken courtyard contains seating, a walking path and a central planted area using native plants, shrubs and flowers. This courtyard collects all site storm water, which is routed into a dry well beneath the plantings. The building is energy efficient with high performance windows and continuous spray foam at interior walls. The roof was replaced with supplemental insulation on the 1929 and 1950s building and repaired on the 1960s building. In addition, in the 1929 building, all existing hardwood floors were left in place, repaired and reused. Water efficient fixtures are used throughout along with LED lighting.
The transformation of Minnie Hartmann School into the Minnie Hartmann Center is the first significant new construction in this part of the city in decades. The Owner hopes the result will be a catalyst for revitalization of a blighted neighborhood.
Not to brag, but we have some pretty great interns this summer (and all the summers before)!
Our internship program is extremely important to us. Sharing what we do with the next generation is key to our sustainability and perspective. As we teach, we learn. Our interns bring fresh eyes and ideas to the firm and everyone moves from summer to fall having had new experiences and having built new, lasting relationships.
This year’s college students are working across departments from Talent + Brand to Survey and they are being included in projects across the company. While it might be nice, our interns don’t fetch coffee. They are integral team members and have been reworking marketing collateral and working on architecture projects from Indy to Houston, Texas.
“Each project allows me to use what I have learned at the University of Kansas plus it also allows me to use all the new information, knowledge, and guidance from my fellow coworkers here at Cripe,” says architecture intern, Jack Davis.
In a summer at Cripe, our interns often see projects through from the start to the construction phases. “It’s been really great seeing projects from the beginning stages through the final construction documents. I’ve learned a lot of really cool tricks with software and gained knowledge of how the architectural industry does business,” Jackie Brice, another architecture intern says.
At Cripe, the intern experience is mutually beneficial, stimulating and an opportunity to build lifelong relationships. The Cripe internship is a complete immersion to the company and some of the highlights include:
- Internal Shadowing
- Day One Members of the Team
- Kick off Breakfast with our CEO, President and Executive Team
- Inclusion in all Corporate Events
- Cripe Performance Review
- Flip Review
- Intern Project Management Community Service Project
To all of our employees, community service is very important and we make sure to instill that in our interns as well.
At the beginning of the summer, the intern team is charged with choosing a philanthropy and coming up with a way to raise money for that organization.
This year’s interns chose Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and they came up with a wide range of competitions and fundraisers to raise money and engage the entire company. There has been a summer long change war, a Euchre tournament, Cripe Family Feud and an intern picnic with a cornhole tournament.
At the end of the summer, they’ll have raised over $1500 to go towards planting and sustaining trees in Indianapolis, but they will also have fostered and facilitated events that embody the culture at Cripe.
It’s crazy to think that the summer is winding down and coming to a close and soon our interns will be heading back to school. We’ll certainly miss them and their contributions, but one of our favorite things to do at Cripe is hire back our interns as returning interns or full time employees!
Talent + Brand intern, Leonna Huddleston, sums it up well: “There is nothing better than working at a firm that treats you like you’re a part of the team and a part of a working family.”
Sustainable design stretches far outside of the physical limits of a building. Civil engineers are now seeing a spillover into their field of expertise to create sustainable landscapes.
Our civil engineering team recently worked on The Center, a space for employees and partners within The Heritage Group to gather and be engaged and encouraged to drive progress.
The Center is unique in its sheer size for a project of this type. It is the first and largest SITES certified project in Indiana.
This project contained not only a physical building, but also the green spaces around it.
Landscapes can pose their own set of particular obstacles, and Cripe civil engineers are more than willing to rise to the challenge when dealing with these living ecological systems. We know it is of the utmost importance to be stewards of the environment in which we live and play and so using proper design techniques, we aim to create landscapes that are regenerative.
We worked with The Heritage Group, Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf and the design team and construction management to create a sustainable work atmosphere that encourages outdoor engagement and collaboration.
The project presented the opportunity to blend a woodland site and a corporate work environment, which included exceptional meeting spaces and a laboratory.
The Center was guided by best practices set forth by SITES (Sustainable Sites Initiative) which is meant to help design professionals achieve sustainable land development and management practices. The codes promote the defense and renewal of ecological systems, which creates a rise in regenerative design.
The site was designed with numerous sustainable features including enhanced green space and canopy with native vegetation, rain gardens, forebays, and ponds to capture and treat stormwater. There are also wetlands, landforms and water features to redirect and mitigate noise pollution, permeable pavements, and purposeful LED lighting to reduce energy use and minimize light pollution.
We are proud to have played a role in the integrative and collaborative design that looked at the site as a blank canvas to create a project that weaves building, hardscape, preserved natural environment and health and wellness into one tapestry.
Cripe was instrumental in working with the client and development owner on communication with all stakeholders including end-users, neighbors, city officials, IndyGo and utilities in sharing a vision and developing creative solutions for the site development.
At Cripe, all projects are guided by a set of values that benefit all of those working on the project. We prioritize clear communication and quality control among many other benchmarks, making us a trusted and reliable team member for a variety of projects across all services and markets.
Technology and Progress in Architecture
By: Sam Miller, Senior Project Manager in the Architecture Department
In architectural practice we may come to believe that every new technology represents an improvement, real or imagined, over work from the past. Common sense suggests this is true without further inquiry, but a more fine grained look into the past and real life work reveals some interesting oppositions to this notion. One of the tensions within design is the desire to experiment with new materials and building systems to further the artistic and functional potentials of our work. Choices about materials and technologies used over time is a result of the interaction of skill, location, cost and creativity. Some technologies are lost due to shifts in how building materials are produced.
Below is a photo of the water fountain in the main lobby of Louis Sullivan’s Peoples Savings & Loan Bank in Sidney, Ohio.
Photo by Sam Miller
The green material forming the water fountain’s top is glazed terra cotta, popular in the late 19th and early 20th Century. For ornamental detail, the material was perfect for a designer like Sullivan. However, times have changed. The use of terra cotta now is almost non-existent save for a small number of historical restorations in any given year and only a few manufacturers remain. The material is very expensive, only used sparingly, if at all, by designers.
Many ancient materials remain in continuous use today and have been improved via technology. Brick is an example: current use of brick is ubiquitous in modern construction and the material effectively comes in nearly unlimited color, texture and size. Also, materials are adapted to mimic others and provide superior durability at often lower cost. For example, architectural precast concrete sometimes takes the place of limestone. Precast concrete is often touted for greater durability and lower price. The size of pieces needed, size of structure, detail, and lead time play into the design team’s choices as well.
The question we often ask ourselves in day to day practice is: How does a particular technology improve what we do? There’s movement across the entire spectrum of building materials, a relentless development of more, newer, better. This is not always the case. A well-made, durable material always remains just that. And, like it or not, there’s almost inevitably a close correlation between quality and cost. Broader questions push the design professional into thinking about quality in a broad context: what does this do for my client? How does it represent her institution or brand? How does a material or system choice support the broad goals of a design concept, the needs of a community?
More often than not a single theme or organizing idea emerges from our design reveries. We discover resonance in an idea we choose to present to the client. This is where the rubber meets the road: If the client is pleased, the pieces begin to fall into place. The process is seldom neat, but the steady collection of form and substance around a good design theme with a balance between technology, old or new, and respect for the financial boundaries of a client yields results that get built. At a minimum we hope our clients are delighted. In a larger context, if our work serves our clients and the broad public comes to appreciate the value of quality design, the results point to the thoughtful use of various technologies. The evolution of building materials is fascinating, a continuing cycle of slow advancement in some cases and explosive innovation in others.
By: Will Tople | Civil Design Associate
You will choose a college based on its reputation. You will major in engineering based on the fact that your father did it, and so did his.
No matter what you do, you’ll have no idea what you are about to get into.
You will have a crisis your sophomore year because you hate your major. You will want to change everything about yourself. You won’t—something about that major appealed to you to begin with. You’ll continue. You will pick up minors in the things you love, like writing and acting.
Towards the end of your senior year, you will begin to pull your hair out. You will think this is how people go bald. You’ll research Rogaine, half-joking, half-not.
You will apply to, literally, a hundred jobs. You will hear back—with some luck—to 1% of them. No matter how many internships you had—no matter how good your grades are—your friends will start getting offers long before you do. You will hate them, but you will also find inspiration in them.
You will check your inbox everyday. Then hourly. You will finally hear back from more places.
You’ll interview for a firm that makes your feel comfortable. You’ll be yourself in the interview. You’ll get an offer. Your friends will hate you, but you will inspire them too.
By necessity, you will learn how to wake up in the morning. That means you will stop watching Netflix until 1 in the morning.
You will learn to pack your lunches like you did in high school. You will run out of lunchmeat on Wednesday night because you are too tired to make anything but a sandwich for dinners too.
You will wait in line at the grocery store to get more lunchmeat and someone will ask you, “What do you do?” In fact, you will get asked, “What do you do?” a lot these days. You will think of an answer that makes your job sound cooler than it actually is because most people don’t know what an engineer does. In the end, you will tell these people that if they walk on it, drive on it, or flush it, you have probably designed something similar to it.
You will learn how to cook, if not but to impress somebody.
You will lose contact with a lot of friends. You will gain even more. You will go out to drinks on the weekends. You will buy tickets to football games. You will attend plays, or concerts, or mixers because you can finally afford these things.
You will love your job most days. You will be annoyed on the others. You will open up at work and make more friends. If you’re lucky, these friends will be like you. They will be able to talk like you and joke with you. They will make getting up in the morning worthwhile.
You’ll go back to school to visit for the weekend. You will finally realize what it means when your parents say, “I feel old.”
You will get bills. You will find financial responsibility because you have to now. You will realize how dreadful student loans are. You will think you are drowning for a while, and will search for a life preserver. You’ll be broke but will find out that you can still manage. You’ll start to worry about your retirement fund, even at this age. The car you have been driving since high school will die in the middle of a busy road during rush hour. You’ll pull more hair our searching for a new one. You’ll realize all of these lunchmeat sandwiches aren’t helping your ever-growing gut. You will spend your nights at the gym. You will forget to call your mother on Wednesday night, like you always did, and she won’t like it. You will have to make emergency trips to the hospital that you can’t afford.
A lot of the things will go wrong.
And you will realize this is just your first year out of school. And you will realize you have so many more to figure these things out.
…continued from part I
Al and I talked a lot about using social media tools in a thoughtful way. If you’ve ever used LinkedIn and received an invitation to be someone’s connection then you probably know the cookie-cutter text that comes along with it. It looks like this:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
– Taylor Crenshaw”
Not very personal. It doesn’t have to be impersonal though, you’re not stuck with that template. You can edit that to say whatever you want and you should. It shows that you took the time to bring up where and why you met and maybe even how that person might be able to help you get where you’re trying to go. Put the personal into your invitation. It’ll go a long way towards building that relationship by making the person feel more like a human being and less like a stepping stone. By making the invitation more personal, it also brings into play a rule I keep for myself when dealing with LinkedIn. Do not try to connect with someone you haven’t met in person.
But heads up, Millennials! Our work isn’t done as soon as we make that connection both in real life and on the Web. We’ve got to maintain those personal relationships. Al goes so far as to make about one hundred calls around the holidays to people that he is connected with. Now I know, we’re not used to putting a whole lot of effort into things and we want instant gratification, but I think Mr. Oak knows what he’s talking about. And it’s not about business all the time. However, you make these efforts to keep in touch with your connections, you might just be at the forefront of their mind when business comes up or they might mention something off-handedly that you’re interested in in the midst of your chit chat. But even then, you should appreciate what you’re doing for other reasons. “Hopefully you enjoy doing that (maintaining relationships) because you’re making someone happy,” Al said. So far we’ve learned that we have to become more patient in our general networking and more selfless when keeping up with our connections. Al also told me that he couldn’t come up with one relationship that didn’t yield some sort of benefit at one point or another. All the more reason to put the effort into these relationships that you’re building.
Even though he knows what he’s doing in the networking department, Al understands where the technology we Millennials so love (and depend on?) could come in handy. “That’s the advantage of something like LinkedIn. It’s easier to stay in touch with people.” As we are beginning our networking journeys, we should remember that. He did not say “it’s easier to connect with people,” but that it is easier to maintain those relationships and keep up with everyone. Social media should be used as a supplement to interact with people, not a crutch for gaining new “connections.” So go ahead, use LinkedIn and your favorite social media tools, but remember that they are just that, tools, supplements. Embrace the personal that is slowly becoming more and more uncomfortable for us and go for it. It truly cannot hurt when done in a thoughtful way.
And when it comes to maintaining relationships, another thing we need to remember is that even if there isn’t something obviously in it for us, we should still take responsibility for maintaining those relationships. While Al said that some of his connections keep up with him, he takes the responsibility of communicating upon himself. “I drive the train. I lead,” he said, not a trace of selfishness in his voice. He truly does not expect to get a business deal or partnership out of every conversation he has, but he knows that if he maintains these relationships people will be more apt to think of him when they are looking for someone in his industry. “You build trust and relationships by putting others interests and needs ahead of your own and being patient with your cause.” Patience, Millennials, patience.
As I wrapped up my time with Al, he reiterated to me what we Millennials need to do in order to get into networking as early as possible and it is quite simple. “Get a mentor, tell them what you want to do, and hold yourself accountable.” Easy enough, right? All we have to do is take a step outside our comfort zone and think more carefully about the impersonal ways we sometimes use our social media. But, remember, both parts of networking, traditional and social, are incredibly important and if managed correctly can lighten your load in maintaining your personal relationships and bringing forth opportunities that might not have been possible otherwise.
(Pictured above, Al Oak and I at an intern breakfast at the very beginning of my internship. Talk about an incredible and unique experience!)
What do a Baby Boomer CEO and a Millennial summer marketing intern have in common? Are you having trouble coming up with anything? So was I, until I sat down with the CEO here at Cripe, Al Oak, and got to talking about networking. After our discussion, we realized we have much more in common than originally thought. I know he taught me a lot and I’m hoping I taught him a thing or two as well.
We sat down and talked about how to supplement each other’s knowledge with what we ourselves know. In Al’s case, he’s a very thoughtful and effective traditional networker. In my case, I know how to use LinkedIn and other social media, hopefully in an unselfish manner. What we decided by the time I left his office was that people who are interested in networking, and that should be everyone, can use both of these tools to be very successful. One is not better than the other, but they are both powerful means to the same end.
We got right down to business about networking in general. “It’s important for young people to know…the importance of networking and growing your career. It’s not something you decide to do when you’re fifty, when you have time. You start at your age,” Al told me. It looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me already.
One of the most important things that Al and I discussed was the impatience and sometimes even selfishness of my generation in their networking dealings. There always has to be something in every conversation for them. There has to be a way to move up and up and up, but effective networking is something much more than that. Al over and over again used the phrase “personal relationships.” While it may seem a bit counterintuitive to business, Al says, “The first priority is developing relationships on a more personal basis before moving to business opportunities. Develop a line of communication and trust by getting to know the person as a priority.” He said that he rarely talks about business when communicating with his connections.
So in a generation that is becoming ever more reliant on social media and interactions of all sorts besides face-to-face, how do we overcome this fear or negligence of the personal? “Good relationship builders and networkers come in many sizes– meaning many different personality types, personal backgrounds, skill sets and styles. The important thing is to embrace the importance of this and make the effort in a way that’s comfortable.” It’s not about cold-calling people in the industry you want to get into. Take advantage of those around you who might know that person or even might know another connection who knows your end goal person. Just ask. Find someone you know that is a good networker and use them. Al says he uses his connections in such a way quite frequently. If he wants to meet a new person he asks someone he already knows who knows that person to set up a lunch. “People who are good at networking are also wanting to help. It’s a support group as much as anything,” Al told me.
But what about my fellow Millennials who are just starting their careers, but who might not have the opportunity to sit down with the CEO or any of the higher-ups in their current company (truly Cripe is exceptional and I have learned there is no hierarchy here)? Quite simply, Al advised to find a new company. “You ought to get in a culture where they support that (networking). Make sure you’re in the right environment for it at a company that supports you.” So when we’re out interviewing for a job, we should be asking about the company’s culture and explaining what we’d like to be a part of. If it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a good fit to help you reach your goals, Al simply suggests moving on to something that does.
Al then reiterated to me what we Millennials need to do in order to get into networking as early as possible and it is quite simple. “Get a mentor, tell them what you want to do, and hold yourself accountable.” Easy enough, right? All we have to do is take a step outside our comfort zone and think more carefully about the impersonal ways we sometimes use our social media. But, remember, both parts of networking, traditional and social, are incredibly important and if managed correctly can lighten your load in maintaining your personal relationships and bringing forth opportunities that might not have been possible otherwise.
To be continued…
Taylor Crenshaw is a rising Senior at DePauw University working towards a double major in English Writing and Spanish.
I grew up around the construction industry. Visiting job sites with the Boy Scouts and spending time around my family’s construction company’s warehouse as a child are some of my favorite memories. However, I wanted to be different. My mother has a passion for art and design that I fortunately inherited while my father works in construction. Growing up, I knew there had to be a career that married my interest in construction with my passion for art; architecture.
After two years as an undergraduate I decided that a traditional architecture career was something that did not meet my need for hands on method of design. My father and I discussed a method of project delivery called design-build. After researching the topic, I quickly signed up for a few construction management courses, which helped my understanding of the construction industry. Also, I enrolled in an independent study revolving around renovating a facility in downtown Muncie. The second semester of my senior year I was in luck. A project was being offered to students to design and build a ‘Playscape’ for a neighborhood in Indianapolis. The five thousand dollar budget seemed like a lot at the time. However, we quickly realized size limitations with our choice of materials. The project was thought provoking because a portion of the neighborhood had no desire for children to use the park, and instead wanted the whole area for themselves without children. This eliminated the option of a traditional playground with swings and a slide. Instead a series of platforms with key features was designed, approved, and built. These experiences led me to search for a graduate school program that expands upon the idea of design-build.
The single most important lesson I have learned from these programs in my undergraduate career, looking back during my final year of graduate school, has to be that design is on-going, even during construction. Design does not stop until construction is complete. This notion can be taken advantage of in a design-build situation to maximize efficiency. Sometimes you find a better method in the field than originally drawn in the documents. I had the privilege to work on a few special case projects that demonstrate that principle, one being a ‘fast track’ project with two components, a pre-engineered metal building (PEMB) and a stick built structure. The PEMB had broken ground and begun construction before the construction documents were even complete for this project.
Knowing firsthand how building systems come together is paramount to the understanding of this profession. There is a dramatic difference between drawing a detail for a set of construction documents and putting it together in the field. It makes you think critically when moving forward with the next project. Having those experiences on a construction site alter and improve your consideration for all aspects and phases of design. It has made me more aware of my design decisions that have an impact on schedule and budget.
There is also an added benefit of understanding a different perspective. Often as design professionals we hear the word contractor and moan while they do the same thing when they hear the word architect. The design-build delivery method allows those tensions to dissipate because unlike a typical design arrangement, all entities and firms, on both the architectural side and construction side are involved from the inception of the project. The client ultimately receives a better product as a result of proactive collaboration between the architect, contractor, and owner. Even when the design and construction is handled by two separate entities, this process is beneficial. There is a mutual understanding from day one that contractor and architect will work together to achieve a better product.
Design and construction both hold a very important place in my life. I am thankful for the opportunity to join my two passions into a career and hope that others will see the merit in enrolling in design-build courses while in college.
Max Wurster is an Architectural intern with Cripe. He studies Architecture at the University of Kansas with a focus on design-build and will be in his final year of graduate school in the fall.