Design Digest: Meyers + Associates
Columbus firm Meyers + Associates recently was featured in Architecture Magazine’s Architect 50, an annual list of the 50 best architects in the county. The honor comes after 15 years of work on a wide variety of projects; from student housing to high-profile condo buildings, from neighborhood parks and swimming pools to historic renovations.
Principal Chris Meyers recently took the time to talk to Columbus Underground about the importance of maintaining that variety of focus, the recent emergence of cohesive districts in Columbus, and the great resource that is the Knowlton School of Architecture at OSU.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the history of Meyers + Associates?
A: Meyers + Associates evolved out of a previous partnership, so I am coming up on 15 years of architecture firm ownership, 7 of which on my own. I came to Columbus from New York to go to Ohio State and later to the Architectural Association in London. During school and for a few years after I had the great pleasure to work with and learn from some of the finest firms and architects in Columbus. Taking an enormous but still exciting risk, I took a shot at running a firm and have not turned back since.
Q: Meyers + Associates has been involved with a variety of projects. Would you say there is an overall philosophy that applies to all of your work?
A: As far as an overall philosophy, I have always struggled with the notion of forcing solely my design onto our clients. I always say I personally don’t have a signature ‘look’ because the projects I do find the most success and interest with the guidance, collaboration and active participation of others. We seem to heavily take cues from the context that we are working in, that always is a very strong influence but deep down our architecture is the creation of many talented and thoughtful hands including our very talented staff, our clients, our builders, consultants and so often the overall community. Two other guiding principles are attention to detail and the care and craft that goes into our projects and paying very particular attention. Simply said, we listen, which seems to be rare these days.
I find that part of the excitement in the work we do is in its variety. We purposely have stayed very diverse in our practice for many reasons. First of all, simply to keep it interesting. I never saw myself doing the same thing day in and day out, that just is not for me. It has been good business too, when one market may slow, others seem to pick up and carrying experience in so many project types keeps us stable and grounded in challenging economic times. But our variety is most valuable to me with the wide range of clients and collaborators we get to know, every day is different because every project opportunity and situation is different.
Q: In terms of architecture and the built environment, how do you think Columbus has changed in the years you’ve been working here?
A: I have been here about 25 years now and over that time my observations of this town have been fairly positive. We are a community of prosperity that has an appreciation for the many facets of design, architecture included. I do think that we are doing a much better job now at creating and refining communities, districts and neighborhoods.
Not so long ago architecture in Columbus seemed much more ‘monumental’ or stand-alone statements with less rigor in defining a larger area. We have been creating great districts that are cohesive, well planned and strategized. I think the next step is the strength of the interconnection of the districts.
Q: Do you see good things happening in the next 20 years? From a design and architecture perspective, do you think Columbus is on the right track?
A: I have been traveling a lot over the past few years; we have had the opportunity to work on some very interesting projects throughout the US and some internationally. The one thing I seem to notice is that compared to many other cities, it just seems like we have a lot going on here. Construction activity for a wide range of building types is encouraging, it is a good signifier that Columbus is on the right track and that we are growing in the right way. What I see elsewhere seems a bit less thought-through, more erratic.
Columbus also seems to be taking the direction of building projects with some better sense of permanence; building to last, buildings that sustain and further strengthen our community. Give credit to our civic leaders, the strength of our industries, the strong pool of entrepreneurs and so many others that have committed to Columbus and are working so well together for the betterment of our region.
Another point is that we are blessed to have one of the best schools of architecture in the world, right here. KSA at The Ohio State University has and will continue to develop a very strong influence on the city and the talent that creates much of the architecture of Columbus. I think over the next 20 years that influence will become even more apparent and further boost Columbus as a design leader and a model community.
Q: Are there any exciting new projects that you’re currently working on, or looking forward to in the near future?
A: With the variety we do, there are a lot of exciting projects underway. Some of which include an urban hotel on the riverfront in downtown Pittsburgh, Some interesting custom homes and loft conversions here in Columbus, a few restaurants and some retail shops. Some big, some small but all seem to be very intriguing.
Q: Anything else we should know about Meyers + Associates?
A: We are excited to be a part of your conversation about design in Columbus. This is a great city and community whose development is something we are very pleased to be affiliated with. I will take every opportunity I can to express gratitude for all that have been a part of Meyers + Associates evolution and success, so thanks again.
More information can be found online at www.meyersarchitects.com.
All photos via Meyers + Associates.