The Columbus Architectural Studio officially opened its doors on Monday, August 8 at 375 N Front St. in the Arena District. It’s only appropriate as many of the architects at the new firm are responsible for some of the most recognizable structures in the area.
Founder Danial Hanes has been in the industry for over two decades and designing in Columbus since 1999. He was working with the firm that designed Nationwide Arena, when Nationwide Realty Investors said if the studio opened an office in Columbus, there would be enough projects to keep them busy. Hanes and his wife were tapped to open the Heinlein Schrock Stearns office in Columbus. The firm would merge with another company and become 360 Architecture for a decade before being acquired by HOK, the largest U.S.-based architecture-engineering firm in 2014.
“This year we decided to break out on our own,” Hanes says.
He’s joined by a team of eight making the switch from HOK, including his wife, Yen Hanes, and Brenda Parker, David Tyler, Dukyoung Lee, Stephanie Hayward, Leslie Hoerig, Molly Bryant and Abbie Stiers.
“Once you find a great team of people to work with, you want to be a part of that,” Bryant says.
For Hanes, starting a firm not only represents the next step in his career, but a chance to do things a little bit differently. He says there are challenges in the profession and the industry that he’s ready to tackle and advance. It’s a task often difficult at a larger company – Hanes compares it to turning an aircraft carrier versus steering a boat.
For starters, “We’re going to be an employee-owned company,” Hanes says.
Columbus Architectural Studio is set up as more of a collective – everyone will be on the same, even playing field Bryant says. The members purposely didn’t put any names on their studio to represent its group mindset.
It lends itself to building direct architect-client relationships – another important pillar of the firm.
Versus an owner meeting with a client and getting the specifications of a project and pushing it out to the team, “The people that are doing the work are the ones meeting with the clients,” Hanes says.
Many members of Columbus Architectural Studio are women, and the firm is placing much emphasis on how each member, and especially its female employees, can grow in the field as well.
“In the profession of architecture especially, there is a real challenge in getting leadership in women in the profession,” Hanes says.
It’s something he noticed more as a new, younger generation of architects joined the old firm. They were primarily women. Hanes says that as a profession, architecture asks too much of its employees, and saw women especially taking the sacrifice for the family, making it difficult to advance to the next step.
“How can we grow as a company and also grow with leadership and women in the firm,” Hanes asks.
Columbus Architectural Studio looks to build a local client base, focusing on general practice architecture and design services.
“We want to be able to meet with multiple types of clients and do multiple types of work,” Hanes says.
The team brings strong experience in interior design, corporate office space and entertainment district areas. In addition to Nationwide Arena, the collective’s members have worked on some of the most recognizable spots in Columbus – Huntington Park, Arena Grand Theater, Promowest’s venue, office buildings at Grandview Yard and the band shell at Bicentennial Park.
Columbus Architectural Studio already has a double-digit list of projects lined up. While Hanes can’t share names quite yet, he says they are projects that will be known in town.
Over the next five years, the firm is not so focused on growing in size, but growing its employees. While Hanes and his wife bring more senior experience to the group, its younger members will take on leadership roles as projects present. Hanes says as they get new clients he will look to those rising leaders to bring folks on board, imagining the firm hit about 15 employees at the half-decade mark.
More information is coming soon at cbusarch.com.