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Fennick McCredie Architecture Ltd

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  • Features

by fmarch

A START-UP… GROWS UP

Here at Fennick McCredie we were thrilled to be named among the top 100 urban growth companies in the nation by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.

Since the announcement the most common question has been “So…how’d you do it?” Looking back, some of the answers were a little surprising:

Focus. This one isn’t surprising. In fact it’s a bit overused – every company talks about focus. Still it’s good advice so we tried to focus and it worked. The surprising part however…

Our focus was never, ever on growth. True statement. Our focus is on client service. Deborah and I allocate the majority of our time to current projects and maintaining client relationships. This is the exact opposite of most growth firms and flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Just to be sure, we had our accounting firm run the numbers: industry-wide the utilization rate for firm partners (time spent on current projects) runs about 57%. At Fennick McCredie we ran 65%.  On top of this we had zero full-time marketing staff. Conventional wisdom centers on getting new clients. We did the opposite, choosing to take care of the ones we had. How does a firm who doesn’t focus on new business, get new business?

Start humble. In the beginning we took smaller roles to work on the projects that most interested us. Partnering with larger companies got our foot in the door with clients who might have otherwise seen us as too small or too risky.  An atypical approach, but a great educational opportunity – thanks to our partners we learned all about the inner workings of the industry: how to take care of clients, how to solve and even prevent problems, and how to make a difference. All this knowledge is only useful if, instead of chasing opportunity, you…

Stay present. By staying fully engaged in the project at-hand we got exposure that we otherwise might have missed. The process allowed us to hone our skills so when new opportunities arose we didn’t disappoint. It was only a matter of time before someone felt comfortable enough to hire us directly – at first for a small job, then later a larger one. Soon, we were getting referrals. A simple recommendation from one client to another carries more weight than an entire marketing department could unleash in a year. We were now credible in a world beyond the present, but only by focusing on the present could we truly become credible.

We are convinced that the reason this worked is because we focused on what matters to us, our clients. By not working towards growth, we GREW. There were of course other factors, not the least of which was luck (to some extent or another luck always plays a role, good or bad). As we look back however this contrarian approach served us well, and I’m certain could work for other start-ups looking for a chance – just one chance – to show their stuff.

-Jonathan

 

Deborah and Jonathan at the Inner City 100 Symposium held by the ICIC.

  • Snapshots

by fmarch

Summer Haze at Marblehead

The landscape oil paintings of Agnes Jacob, project designer at FMA, are now on exhibit at the Marblehead Library/Abbot Public Library. There will be an opening reception Saturday, Dec 8th from 3-5 pm. Join us in celebrating our coworker and the local arts.

 

“Living in Boston, my family and I love to spend time at many of the beautiful beaches, salt marshes, islands, fields, and towns surrounding our home town. Plum Island, Rockport, Gloucester, Marblehead, and the Berkshires are among my favorite places where I (and probably many of you) have fond moments. Every painting I did is about trying to evoke this memory and emotion I had of the place rather than trying to capture every detail realistically. With oil, a palette knife, color and every brush stroke, I try to capture the way the sun and the wind hit my skin, the feeling of the surface I’m standing on.” -Agnes Jacob

Visit her online gallery at www.gingerteastudio.com to learn more.

  • Snapshots

by fmarch

Happy Halloween from FMA!

Agnes and Meaghan livened up the studio with some great costumes for the holiday. What could be scarier than a rejected submittal?

  • Features

by fmarch

Co-op: Circling Back

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In the summer of 2005 I started my first co-op at a small architecture firm on the Southcoast of Massachusetts.

I had been looking forward to this day since the age of six–the dress clothes, the professional demeanor, the start of my career–it’s weird, but I always dreamed of my thirties. And here was my first co-op, the beginning.

By luck or fate the firm was run by two women who identified with my young ambition and gender. Challenging me from the start I was involved with everything from competition entries to construction details. Then one day I had my break, I was asked to design a stair. Seizing the opportunity to impress I sketched a series of ideas and presented to the team. But to my surprise the principal did not react as hoped. Something was missing, a conviction, and she asked, “well what does the stair want to be?”

Years later I still ask that question every day, what does the stair want to be? The answer is never isolated; there are circumstances and proclivities to frame the design. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was no different from that stair and co-op was my tool to answer the question “what did I want to be?” Returning from that first co-op it was apparent that my classmates and I were no longer the same. As my colleague Blake is noticing our individual experiences start a differentiation, or more appropriately a process of self-discovery. While I loved my first job I pushed myself to try something new the following summer. I sampled a big firm, a small firm, the East coast, and the West coast; each time learning something new about myself. I enjoy working with the co-op’s that come through the office and never forget to ask, “well what do you think it should be?” And while still under thirty I now approach my career with the confidence of experience.

-Michelle

  • Features

by fmarch

CO-OP: Diverging Paths

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Every morning when I take the orange line to work from Northeastern’s campus, I run into my fellow architecture classmates.

We’re heading to co-op: an internship program that all Northeastern students participate in instead of taking classes for a semester. (Northeastern’s co-op program.)  On the train we catch up on our different jobs and talk about what the work day has in store.  We’ve been in class with each other for five years and have even traveled to Germany together for a semester, but for the next four months we’ll be having our own unique experiences that will shape us in different ways.

Many students see co-op as a way to “test out the waters” in a certain profession before they graduate with a degree.  This still applies to architecture majors, but it’s only a small part of why co-op is so important for us. Co-op has shown me that some things just can’t be taught in school.  At Fennick | McCredie, I’ve been able to visit construction sites, participate in meetings with clients and consultants and help prepare construction drawings.  It’s also been wonderful having mentors that are willing to spend time teaching me the ins and outs of the profession.  Whether it was Judy telling me that, “good architects are not just designers but managers of people,” or Scott sitting with me for hours at a time teaching me how a building is put together – I now have a greater understanding of what it means to be an architect. (Reverse mentoring at FMA.)

At different firms across the country, my classmates are gaining their own insights in the field. When we return to classes for our last semester as undergrads, we’ll bring with us this new knowledge – and we’ll learn from each other.  I’m grateful to have been able to combine professional experience with my education, and I look forward to seeing how it shapes the rest of my career.

-Blake

  • Snapshots

by fmarch

Patina Panels

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: Hangar 8 has transformed from its bare-bones steel framing to luminous metal panels. Take a look!

  • News

by fmarch

Fennick McCredie Architecture News | Flash

FLASH | NEW PROJECTS

We look forward to a busy season with significant new projects on the horizon:

Four new MBTA stations as a part of the long awaited Green Line Extension Project

Design services for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s four venues:  the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, the Boston Common Garage and the MassMutual Center

 

FLASH | RECOGNITION

Fennick | McCredie Architecture placed among the top 100 list for the Inner City Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies

In Inc. Magazine’s article, “Fast-Growth CEOs : Bullish on the Economy

We were featured in Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Fastest Inner Growing City Businesses

Feature article in the Boston Globe as one of 5 Massachusetts companies placing on the Top 100 List for one of the Fastest Growing Inner City Companies

Featured in BostInno article: 5 Mass Companies Elevate the Inner City around Them

 

FLASH | RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONIES

Looking forward to the completion of the new headquarters for YouthBuild Boston – renovation and addition to the historic fire house at 27 Centre Street in Roxbury – and ribbon cutting in September with Mayor Menino

The Excel Charter School in Chelsea will welcome in an additional new grade this fall following completion of an expansion to their campus space

 

FLASH | CONSTRUCTION UPDATES

At University of Massachusetts campuses:

UMass Amherst, construction has commenced for the renovation of campus planning, facilities and physical plant offices

UMass Lowell, the new South Campus parking facility foundations are underway

 

At Logan International Airport:

The 49 acre development of a new Consolidated Rental Car Facility has celebrated “topping off”, and innovative terracotta-clad precast concrete panels are arriving on the site; see our recent blog on the terracotta system

The Aircraft Hangars Upgrades are currently under construction. For more info – take a look at our blog

 

A private Back Bay residence‘s new design renovations are advancing into construction

 

FLASH | COMMUNITY

Outside the FMA studio, Erin Hunt, is a member of the Quincy Historical Commission and the Building Enclosure Council

Michelle Callinan is the Copy Editor PRAXIS – a journal of writing + building

Deborah Fennick is serving on the Boston Society of Architects board of directors as commissioner of architectural design

Deborah’s term on the City of Somerville’s Design Review Committee has been renewed

 

ART EXHIBIT

Landscape oil paintings of Agnes Jacob, project designer will be exhibited this coming December at the Marblehead Library/ Abbot Public Library. Visit her online gallery at www.gingerteastudio.com to learn about her work as a painter

  • Features

by fmarch

The Wrecking Ball for One of Boston’s Historic Buildings?

Facade_Atlantic Boiler Works

East Boston’s 1893 Atlantic Boiler Works, one of the last waterfront structures that recalls its district’s maritime history, is threatened to be demolished.

The neighborhood was once a thriving marine industrial area with wharf, docks, and piers lining the waterfront’s edge.  These once ubiquitous structures are now almost gone, replaced by condominium, shopping malls and parks.

Boston Towing, a harbor tugboat operating company, owns Atlantic Boiler and is one of the last water dependent businesses in the area. Recently the Fire Department required them to bring the building up to code, and from Boston Towing’s standpoint – demolishing the building costs less than spending the estimated $750K-1M to fix it.

The community is looking for ways to save this building.  Given the short period of time (demolition permit deadline is September 10, 2012),  options are running out. The 3 strategies being discussed to save the building are:

1. Change the zoning boundary of the building: It can function as something other than marine/ water related industry. This will make the property more valuable to develop; however, it wouldn’t necessarily save the structure.

2. Apply for the landmark status: This will protect the building from demolition; however, the landmark status may put restrictions on the alteration of the facade making it harder to develop the property.

3. Lease the space to nearby marinas and extend harborwalk into the property: This potentially would require the owner to maintain the property, which they are not interested in the first place.

What are your ideas to save this building? Have you faced a similar issue? For inquiries or suggestions – please contact Scott Hamwey at scotthamwey@yahoo.comor Susan Brauner at susanparkerbrauner@gmail.com

-Agnes

  • Snapshots

by fmarch

“The Only Way Around is Through.”

Our office expansion is underway. In May, we were listed as one of the nation’s top 100 fastest growing inner city businesses by the Initiative for Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune Magazine. With all this growth, we are in need of more space, so our studio space is currently in the process of expanding. Check out our progress. As Abraham Maslow said, “You will either step forward into growth, or you will step back into safety.” At FMA, we are definitely looking forward.

  • Features

by fmarch

Reverse Mentoring

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It is both humbling and inspiring that the most junior of our office are able to teach the most senior.

Learning is always encouraged at the Fennick McCredie studio. At the initiative of younger project designers Ashley and Dan, a new, bi-weekly Software Series was implemented where we have a short tutorial during lunch on the Adobe Design Software Programs – InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. While attending the InDesign tutorial last week, which was given by our ambitious and software-savvy interns, Eric and Blake, I was impressed by the quality and relevance of the content. It is both humbling and inspiring that the most junior of our office are able to teach the most senior. In addition to these software series presentations, we also receive a weekly quick-tip relating to what we’ve learned.

Check out this one Blake sent out today!

This inverted mentoring is just a small piece of our office culture that encourages knowledge and idea sharing. Talent bubbles up everywhere in the studio – how can we capture it, share it? Check out the nicely designed poster Eric made for our Software Series Forum in InDesign set as our banner image.

 

Learning has no pre-disposed boundary in age, background, or educational level. Knowledge is meant to be embraced, regardless of the source as long as it’s good stuff! As a wise Chinese proverb puts it, “It’s a blessing when one can live until an old age and learn until an old age!”

-Judy