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!
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.
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!
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.
By: Sam Miller, RA, NCARB, LEED AP | Senior Project Manager
Creating architecture involves balancing many variables. Design professionals hold all this lightly, meditating on what to bring forward and what to leave behind. We can think of design as living inside a container of sorts, a set of boundaries – limits on what we may do. These take many forms: a structural material can only span so far. Finishes are beautiful, but flammable, a hazard unless mitigated by a sprinkler system. A client has a limited budget. In short, boundaries are essential and real. This is design’s first question: what is needed and where are the limits?
A wise colleague and I explored the importance of boundaries almost 20 years ago during a dialogue about what we believed constituted high quality design. Without boundaries, design usually spirals into chaos. Creating and managing a quality design process demands an understanding of boundaries and the sense to know and keep track of changes as we go along. Quality design process is the heart of a successful practice.
So what happens? The strategic view is to imagine design as a continuing series of inquiries: we seek an understanding of a project’s limits, its boundaries. We gather information, synthesize a solution, and present ideas for feedback. The solution can be part of the whole or a full vision of the architecture. Once we have comments (new information) the evolving design takes up this information and the loop begins anew. Building furniture provides a good analogue: rough wood is shaped, cut, finished and assembled into the final product. Before the wood worker begins, he or she knows what is intended: perhaps a dining room table of a certain size, finish, and features. These are the boundaries, part of the program for the project. We are obliged to put a conceptual fence around a design problem whether the work is creating a potting shed or a mixed use high rise.
One of the traditional saws in architectural practice is the idea of scope, quality and cost. There’s also time or schedule, intellectual capital, and available resources in staff, skill, creativity, and technology. Beyond the intellectual or administrative work of design, there is the very real world of construction: can a local builder provide the skill to install a particular building system? Will a material choice hold up over time and meet the needs of an Owner?
Over the years we have learned that as complexity increases, a certain level of unpredictability enters, then lingers. Strange, unexpected events derail what seems straightforward. Moving decisively from question to answer gets more complicated and difficult. An answer to a question has four answers and not one. Or no answer at all. Research yields more threads to chase down.
We use the word “friction” with our clients to share the variety of uncertainties presented during design. Friction in the process takes differing forms. In any given project the design team not only answers to the client, but the requirements of building codes, climate, site, local jurisdictional requirements for zoning or utilities, specialized review requirements depending on the project, plus the impact of financing. Each of these affects design.
Here is an example of principles and boundaries in a project for a client in southern Indiana. The image below is the first notion of how to express the architecture in a manner that supports the client’s mission and communal image: modern, forward looking, innovative.
First design concept from June of 2015
The vocabulary for the building was inspired by the architecture of the client’s existing facilities and the program for a 12,000 square foot medical office building with room for two future tenants on a suburban site. Boundaries included a carefully reviewed budget process, detailed design review with the Owner’s leadership team, a relatively tight site, oversight by the State Department of Health and so on. Below is the final rendering, a close approximation of the final appearance of the building, now under construction.
Johnson Memorial Health final design now under construction
Although aspects of the appearance are shifted and morphed, the basic shape of the design has held: a distinctive canopy to easily identify the entrance, a strong overall visual image to delight the eye, a thoughtful composition of materials. This consistency is part of using boundaries as a methodology to steady a design concept for the duration of the process.
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.