The future of the architecture firm: a mix of human and high tech

How can creative, professional service firms set up a work environment that’s not just a place to shelter employees, but one that’s a strategic tool for productivity, collaboration, and growth?

BLDD Architects is answering this question by reimagining where and how they do their best work.  According to President Steve Oliver, both team collaboration and individual flexibility must be fostered.    

COLLABORATION IS KEY

In order to increase collaborative opportunities, the firm has consolidated from five offices to three, combining the expertise of three separate Central Illinois offices into one ‘epicenter’ of teamwork and creativity.

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Collaboration is the fuel for idea generation

“BLDD started as a single proprietorship founded in Decatur, IL in 1929, and over the past 88 years, we have grown into a regional design leader with nationally recognized expertise in education, senior living, corporate and religious markets,” said Mr. Oliver.   “Our structure needs to transition to a regional, design-driven approach as well.”

The firm now operates three regional offices:  Chicago (IL), Davenport (IA), and Central Illinois (Decatur).  Business incubator spaces provide alternative landing spots for local employees and client meetings.  These currently exist in Champaign and Bloomington, Illinois, with more locations planned for the future.     

FLEXIBILITY VIA TECHNOLOGY

BLDD has put recent investments in technology to work with “virtual offices,” increasing flexibility for staff.  Cloud-based computing, video conferencing, and a software-based IP phone system allow all 55 employees to access the tools they need for design and client support from anywhere in the world.

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Working from anywhere sometimes means the hammock.

Employees in all areas of the company are embracing the flexibility.  “I can brainstorm and have lunch with the team in the office one day, and the next day work on drawings from my home office, the coffee shop, or one of our co-lab spaces in Bloomington and Champaign.”  says designer Todd Cyrulik, a Principal in the firm.

“That flexibility is a benefit that not many mid-size architectural firms can provide, and is why we’re attracting the most talented and passionate people in the Midwest.”

STRONG STRATEGY

“We have developed a modern work environment that benefits from regular interactions of our talented staff, but also allows them flexibility to do their best work,” said President Steve Oliver.  “This strategic move has made us stronger culturally, creatively, and financially.  And when our employees are happy, our clients are happy.  Ultimately, that is our goal, to deliver an empowering, transformative design experience to our clients.”

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