Design Digest: mode architects
Mode is a small firm with a broad portfolio that includes interior design, branding, and historic building renovations. Previously known as ON Architects, the German Village-based firm rebranded at the beginning of this year. Owner Mark Ours was kind enough to respond to our questions; providing some insight on the rebrand, the challenges of mixing modern with historic, and the important role architects can play in bringing ideas to life.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the history of your firm?
A: The firm was established in 2008 – my goal was to get away from the anonymity of working in a large global corporate architecture practice and get back to working locally and building meaningful relationships. We re-branded the firm as ‘mode architects’ on January 1st of this year to better reflect our design direction, focus and brand. We work on a wide range of projects including office, medical, restaurants, retail and residential. Our clients range from entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to seasoned developers.
Q: Considering that range of projects, would you say there is an overall philosophy that applies to all of your work?
A: Our firm name – mode – speaks directly to our core belief that process drives design solutions. The way we work and our process is what sets us apart from our competition. For every project we touch, we develop a unique road map that we follow with our clients and consultants. We also believe that all great projects begin with a single idea – a concept, or an essential idea without which the project could not exist.
The power of ideas is that they direct projects and solutions and build consensus, which then answers questions about the approach. Most ideas or concepts that drive the design of a project come from collaboration with the client, architect, builders, and many more. Architects are facilitators that visualize ideas. Whether you know it or not, everyone is full of ideas.
Q: Being based in German Village, and having worked on historic building renovations, what are your thoughts on balancing modern design with historic architecture?
A: The best way to highlight something historic is to place it in a context that makes the viewer more aware of it. Think of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia being placed in a glass room; this compliments and highlights the bell. I would say that our best example of this point of view would be our adaptive re-use project for the Hanover Mattress Warehouse in the Belmont Block of the Arena District.
To make the building economics and the proportions work we had to remove half of the building. This created an opportunity for us to design a new façade for a historic warehouse. Our concept was to pull the interior aesthetic of the warehouse to outside. The new architectural elements are set up to compliment the historic brick in color, texture and material. The new features are also set off or ‘gasket’ from the original building to emphasize that they are new. The complement and balance of new to old and contemporary to historic is what makes these projects successful.
Q: Do you think Columbus is on the right track from a design and architecture perspective?
A: Most of the civic and corporate-driven architecture happening in this City is driving a more urban scale – focused on building up and not out. You see the three major hospitals going vertical, housing downtown is going vertical and so is the Short North. Urban development has never had more traction in this City. The leadership in the City has also never been stronger – from the mayor, to the Downtown and Franklinton development corporations. Where we still need some work is transit – bus infrastructure will only take the City so far. We would be very excited to see rail service added as a mode of transportation in Columbus.
Q: Any exciting new projects that you’re currently working on, or looking forward to in the near future?
A: Our project with Land-Grant Brewing Company in East Franklinton is exciting on many levels. It is our first project in Franklinton and, of course, we love beer and are excited to join the craft beer scene. We have a custom modern house under construction on Overbrook Ravine in Clintonville – finding opportunities to build on the ravines in Clintonville is rare and we are very excited about seeing that project finished. There are a couple of other exciting projects on the horizon…so stay tuned!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: For a smaller firm mode has found efficiencies in our process to provide excellent work on large scale projects while maintaining great client and team relationships. We pride ourselves on offering the full range of services from architecture and interior design to graphics and branding. 2014 looks to be a big year for us so check back and follow us on twitter @modearc for updates.
More information can be found online at www.modearc.com.
All photos provided by mode architects.