Design Matters: Schwerdt Design Group
TK: What has your creative juices flowing?
SCHWERDT: Currently at SDG, we have a really fantastic Team and are having a lot of fun. The design of the new Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka certainly has gotten our entire Team’s creative juices flowing. We are also thrilled to be designing a new Art Gallery and Recital Hall for Washburn University, as well as the renovation of the historic Boam and Powerhouse Buildings on the Menninger Hill Campus as the new home for the Sunflower Foundation. Wheatfield Village, a dramatic new mixed-use development at 29th & Fairlawn, as well as a new downtown Public Market are also on the drawing boards. Stay tuned!
TK: What architectural building has inspired you the most?
SCHWERDT: Allen Fieldhouse stands out. Rock Chalk Jayhawks!
TK: What is most important to you when designing a new project?
SCHWERDT: Establishing trust is, without question, the most important aspect of embarking on a new design project with a client. Great architectural design constantly involves choices, questions, and even fears. Having this trust permits greatness to emerge, whether it’s the smallest cottage to a huge campus. Architects are not the first violinist or the world famous soloist. Architects perform the role of the conductor of the orchestra, leading a team of trusted equals toward a greater goal.
TK: What trends are you seeing in architectural design?
SCHWERDT: We are seeing trends arising from generational shifts. Almost every client that commissions us to design their project requests that we design environments that appeal to young people, attract talent, retain that investment, and position their organization for the sustainable future. Similarly, most clients ask us to explore and incorporate renewable energy and sustainability technologies into their designs.
TK: How does a business owner know it’s time for a renovation or redesign?
SCHWERDT: Indicators that it is time for a business owner to start a renovation include low employee morale, high turnover, spiking energy costs, drop in customer counts, increasing staff illnesses, and/or difficulties providing access to our aging population.
TK: Are new construction/major renovation projects incorporating “green” in the materials and products that are being chosen? Benefits?
SCHWERDT: “Green” products are being using in every project in our office. Whether it is a large corporate client or a single family home-owner, sustainability and efficiency are hallmarks of our client base. Native grasses, rapidly renewable lumber flooring, recycled steel, variable refrigerant flow, ground source heat pumps, photovoltaic, CO2 room sensors, LED lighting…it all is on the table for our clients.
TK: How can good design and architecture help a business stand out?
SCHWERDT: Good design and architecture can help a business stand out by conveying distinction, and this usually requires courage. Great architecture is not possible without great clients, and great clients are courageous business people. Playing it safe, blending in, choosing well-worn materials and forms assures failure in many cases. Pressing your architect to create great design does not require that you increase your budget. It simply requires that you ask more of your team. The best designs have nothing to do with the size of the budget.