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Commercial Real Estate

Meet the Finalists: Leaders from HDF, Merriman Anderson, and Perkins & Will

Three notable North Texas architecture execs on career choices, industry trends, and why space matters.
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On April 28, D CEO will reveal the winners of its ninth annual Commercial Real Estate Awards program. Leading up to the big event, we’re featuring all 83 finalists (51 projects and deals and 32 professionals), one category at a time. Today, we’re sharing excerpts from interviews with the three Excellence in Architecture & Design honorees.

Jeff Smith

Executive Director of Product Development, HDF

WHY ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN: “I think I knew from age 15 that I wanted to be an architect. It was a fascinating blend of art and science, with culture, history, and politics in the mix, too. With shelter being one of humanity’s three big needs (along with food and clothing), architects have an opportunity to make a real impact in the world for good, to help people, and to advance our human civilization.”

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “I enjoy the variety of the process of architecture and building. Architects are problem-solvers by nature, and the problems of no two days are the same. Sometimes it drives you crazy, but sometimes, just occasionally, you hit a hole in one, and it’s a great feeling.”

LESSON LEARNED: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the value of teamwork. In my experience, architects have a tendency to want to design in isolation, to come up with all the solutions themselves. In today’s world, and especially in tomorrow’s, the ever-increasing complexity of future buildings and projects will call for a strong team environment, where we leverage the training and experience of a focused team to meet the demands of our future world.”

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “Despite an unprecedented year, Harwood designed, announced, and signed its first tenant at Harwood No. 14. It was a major feat of teamwork, coordination, and determination.”

LOOKING AHEAD: “We see new building concepts, new building systems, and new building materials all the time. Today, we can dream and create almost any type of building we want. Tomorrow, we will envision buildings to become more and more part of the larger environment, more connected to the outer world, and more responsive to their users. That’s what gets me up in the morning!”

Milton Anderson

President, Merriman Anderson Architects

WHY ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN: “As a youth, I would build cities and roads all through our backyard.  My older engineer brother told me I should be an architect. From that point further, I worked construction, was a draftsman for a grain elevator, and an electrical contractor.  I loved to solve problems, draw, and paint. There really was no other option.”

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “I enjoy the process, being a part of and watching talented teams work together to satisfy a client’s desires, and completing a concept that began with a simple sketch. Then, hearing from clients who are happy with their buildings.”

LESSON LEARNED: “I’ve learned that this work is never easy, but it is always special when you are  working with clients, consultants, and contractors that you enjoy working with.”

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “I am proud of a group of 60 people who never missed a beat in this unique and challenging year and a team of leaders who never slowed down or missed a deadline. We finished and opened three projects in the last quarter of the year.”

LOOKING AHEAD: “We have a great group of people in place and can compete with the best. Dallas continues to attract great companies and great talent, which creates great opportunities.”

Tom Reisenbichler

Managing Director, Perkins & Will

WHY ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN: “As a kid, I always enjoyed math, science, and art classes. Architecture synthesizes those to create solutions for our clients’ challenges.”

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: “There are two things that stand out to me. The first is helping our clients solve their business challenges related to their physical environments. Second, I really enjoy working with the people in our organization. We have built a great team of super talented professionals that do amazing work and are just great people to be around.

LESSON LEARNED: “I’ve learned it’s important to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. You will never know who will end up becoming your client in the future. We have had many on our team move to the client side of the industry, and they all have become our clients. That is a great tribute to the fact that they enjoyed their time at Perkins & Will, liked the team they worked with, and believe in the work we do.”

2020 HIGHLIGHTS: “During the pandemic recession, we have been able to maintain most of our staff, stay financially solid, and take advantage of the extra time to do more training, improve quality control, and develop our team further. Additionally, our team won multiple awards for design quality during 2020. Our technology platform is very advanced and has allowed us to work from home or anywhere in the world without a loss of efficiency.”

LOOKING AHEAD: “Even through the recession, we have been building momentum. We are poised to deliver some fantastic buildings in 2021. The opportunities we are winning get better and better each year. I feel like we are just approaching our potential in design leadership for our industry.”

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