I was recently reminded that I have been a member of the staff at Muhlenberg Greene Architects for 25 years.
How Did That Happen So Fast?
I guess it is now okay to admit that when I initially applied for a position here, it was with the thought that I would work for a few years in Reading, and then move on for a position in a Philadelphia firm, or similar larger metropolitan area. Somehow, those few years have stretched into 2 -1/2 decades. I have remained a life-long resident of the Lehigh Valley and have adapted to my 222 daily commute.
How did I get here?
In the mid 1980’s I had an opportunity to pursue a career change. At that time I decided to return to college, complete my degree in Architecture and pursue professional licensure. I was working at a firm in Philadelphia when one of the re-occurring recession cycles hit the Philadelphia market in 1991. Seeing the questionable workload ahead, I answered an advertisement for a position posted by this Reading firm and interviewed with Dennis Rex, now my partner and cohort here at Muhlenberg Greene. We have often joked about who made the bigger mistake…offering or accepting the position.
How do I account for 25 years at MGA?
I could do it through the projects that I have enjoyed working on through these years. Large and small, private and public, renovation and new construction, historic and contemporary; the variety of projects that make up our practice have kept things interesting and challenging, and Fun; As Larry Greene would often emphasize, we need to have fun.
I could do it through the client relationships that have developed and been very meaningful to me personally and professionally. Some of these relationships are with individuals responsible for multiple buildings and on-going architectural needs that have led to long term friendships. Others have been with the ‘one-time’ client that I have had the privilege to roll up my sleeves with and dig into a challenging, problem-solving, design process that ends up in a learning experience for all.
I could do it through the professional associations I have become involved with and devoted time and effort to. Membership in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has provided an opportunity to get to know other local Architects as well as others in Pennsylvania and around the country. I became involved in our local Chapter’s Executive Committee serving a variety of positions and eventually President of the Chapter in 2000. This led to a role on the State’s Board of Directors and serving as President of AIA Pennsylvania in 2007. Since then I have been appointed to the PA State Architects Licensure Board and am currently serving on committees for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Key to these activities has been an effort to give-back to what I feel is a great profession but also, again, the relationships that have developed with a diverse membership of other professionals have made the efforts worthwhile.
Most importantly, I can do it through the great people I have worked with at Muhlenberg Greene. My plans to move-on after a few years diminished as I came to understand the “family” that exists in our small office environment. Our firm has always encouraged staff to participate in all aspects of the work to be done. Architecture is a profession that has a broad range of interest areas to offer challenges to anyone with the initiative to take them on. I was fortunate having the opportunity to become an Associate with the firm in 1995 and then becoming a Principal and stockholder in 1998.
Our firm is unusual when compared to the typical mid-size professional design office. It has transitioned through several ownership changes in the 96 year history since Fred Muhlenberg opened his office in 1920. Hopefully this legacy will continue long past the 100th anniversary.
What about the Next 25?
Where will it take MGA? I would not want to scare my colleagues and suggest that I plan on being here for another 25 years. I am looking forward to continuing to develop new projects, new relationships, and finding new opportunities to be challenged. It is through the challenges and problem solving details of each project that I find great rewards in this profession. How long will this continue? I can only hope for the foreseeable future….which as far as any of us can see.
A thought comes to mind that someone famous once said…… “How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss