When Architects and Engineers Live Under One Roof

Maybe it is stating the obvious, but A/E firms (Architect/Engineer) function differently than firms comprised of only architects or only engineers. As an A/E firm ourselves, we think that a combined force of architects and engineers will function fundamentally better. And by “better”, we choose efficiency, convenience, and quality as our units of measurement. Two project staff members tell us their opinion on the benefits, to us and clients, of having architects and engineers working under one roof. We chose to talk with them specifically because they have previously worked for a single discipline firm prior to joining Schmidt Associates.

Eddie Layton, AIA, LEEP AP

Project Architect

Charlie Wilson, CPD, LEED AP

Associate, Project Manager, and Design Engineer



After you work on a few projects together, talk to them during the lunch hour, or grab a drink after work on Friday, architects and engineers get to know each other on a personal as well as a professional level. You know their communication style, strengths, and personality traits. You know more about their workloads and what other projects they are currently working on. You learn what the architect or engineer needs from you, sometimes before they even ask. Going back to efficiency, getting familiar with your project team adds up to saved time and money. And who doesn’t like saving time and money?

When you aren’t in the same office, it can feel like your team is starting all over again with strangers, with a steep learning curve each time. You may work with the same architecture or engineering team from another company a few times, but you aren’t always guaranteed a consistent group. This makes it hard to deliver a project with the same amount of proficiency as you could with a team you are already accustomed to working with.

Technically speaking

Having architects and engineers working on the same network is a huge time saver. Eddie can sync his architectural model and Charlie can reload the changes instantly in his engineering model. If he were to be working with an outside firm, it could be a week before there was another pre-determined data transfer. This is especially critical in the final phases of a project, where a delay could cause the team to miss a deadline, or produce un-coordinated drawings, causing issues during construction, including cost increases or schedule delays.

It’s not just at the end of a project where time is saved either. Often architects are working on a project long before engineers get heavily involved, and the ability to quickly walk over and ask, “how much space will you need for your equipment?”, or “are we way out of line with our equipment budget estimate for this project?” is invaluable during the early phases of design. In a more “traditional” setting, these conversations might not happen until much later down the road, after an owner has already fallen in love with a potential design, only to learn that it’s not possible because of space or financial constraints.

Communication happens across the room, not virtually

Being able to walk right across the room to talk to the architect or engineer is the biggest benefit of your team working under one roof. If you were to ever pop in our office and see how we work, this would be apparent. We have architects working near architects and engineers working near engineers, but the only real separation from the two worlds is a 30-second walk.

We utilize an imbedded office design so key project teams, both architects and engineers, sit together. You might change desks every few months based on your project workload. This team orientation improves the quality and quantity of team communication. If an issue arises during the design process, we don’t have to wait for a call to be answered or someone to respond to our email. That type of communication can take hours or days to resolve a problem, something impossible when it comes to crunch time. The faster an issue is resolved, upfront and before construction, the better result for our clients.

If your architects and engineers aren’t under one roof, that 30-second walk to have a face-to-face conversation turns into something virtual, something less personal and instantaneous. When working through technical, complex architectural or engineering questions, having someone a few desks away is a big advantage.


The better we work together, the better result for the client. Working with an A/E firm means that you are putting your trust into a team of people who have the same office culture, increasing consistency. But as always, there are pros and cons to any situation. Your project may better be suited to have architects from X company and engineers from Y company because those two firms are experts in specific areas that can bring a benefit to your unique project.




Q&A Session with Phil Medley

Stereotypically, architects and engineers are wired differently from each other. One is artsy and the other is numbers-oriented. But occasionally, you find a hybrid. And that is what we have in Phil Medley, Mechanical Engineer and licensed architect.




What do you do for Schmidt Associates?
My focus at Schmidt Associates is high performance building design. I work a lot with early energy analysis on our building designs to ensure that the best decisions are being made from the start. The analysis looks at everything from the envelope of the building down to the hot water heater. This produces data-driven design decisions resulting in energy efficient buildings that save our Owners a lot of energy (and money) over the life of their buildings.

You mentioned engineering and architecture in the same thought?
Given my history, that isn’t surprising. I have an undergraduate degree in Art History from Hanover College. Following that, I attended the University of Illinois Chicago and got a Masters of Architecture. Unfortunately, that was about the same time as the recession hit in 2008, so I took a job as an environmental engineer at a coal mining company in southern Indiana. That led me to pursue a Masters from Purdue in Architectural Engineering. This path only seemed natural, as I have always thought that architecture and engineering needed to be considered together more than they are. The industry tries to separate the two, but you can’t.

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
I still have a baby tooth. It’s never given up on me. All the others jumped ship years ago, but this one is just still hanging in there!

Do you collect anything?
I have every superhero movie ever made; good or bad, it doesn’t matter.

Who is your favorite superhero?
I am not sure if this makes them my favorite or not, but my oldest daughter thought I was Spiderman for a while, so I liked him. However, in the second movie (spoiler alert), he lets the girl die. I won’t let her see that one. My youngest daughter thinks I am Batman. I am not sure why.

So the next time you are faced with a perplexing problem that might benefit from a conversation with an architect and an engineer, feel free to give Phil a call. It’s like two for the price of one!


Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave Jones, and Patricia Brant



Internship Advice

It isn’t typical to have an intern come back into your office after their few-month stint is over, especially not three separate times. But we just couldn’t get enough of Myrisha Colston! So we thought we should get some expert advice on internships from our in-office expert.

Myrisha is a 23-year-old second year graduate student at Ball State University. She first came to intern with Schmidt Associates while she was in high school in 2011, again four years later, and again this year. She will graduate with her Masters of Architecture in May of 2018. She plans to apply to firms as soon as possible, but she wants to take a little time to travel before starting her career.

How did you know you wanted to become an architect?

It all began when I attended H.L. Harshman Magnet Middle School. I was a part of their math, science, engineering magnet. During my 7th and 8th grade school years there, I took Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses and learned how to draft, use the Autodesk Inventor computer program, and work with machinery such as the band saw and drill press. After graduating 8th grade, I was accepted in the math, science, engineering magnet at Arsenal Technical High School and remained a part of PLTW. During my junior year, I had the opportunity to choose between taking a class on aerospace engineering or a class on civil engineering/architecture. I chose to take the latter.

Before the end of my junior year, my professor of that class asked every student to submit a résumé to him. That summer after school was out, I received a call from an assistant at Schmidt Associates saying they had received my résumé and would like to interview me. I interviewed a week later and was hired as a high school intern. I worked in the IPS department under Deb Kunce for that summer and the rest of my senior year until I went off to college. It was in those moments of being surrounded by people who pursued and worked in the field I was hesitant about pursuing myself that truly helped me make my final decision of wanting to become an Architect.

What has it been like to be an intern with Schmidt Associates?

I chose to come back here this third time specifically because of what I saw and experienced in my years prior. It was the culture and the people that make up Schmidt Associates. I have always questioned going into architecture because I wasn’t quite sure how I was giving back to the world with it. With Schmidt Associates, one of their main focuses is just that. They focus on their clients and make sure the design is everything and more that the clients want. They showed me that architecture in their office isn’t just about being in the office and working all day every week. The times where they are meeting the clients to do puzzle piece exercises, volunteering for various local organizations, participating in CANstruction, and more is just a few ways Schmidt Associates gives back to the world.

Schmidt Associates does not just use mottos and values as words, you see those things within each person in the office no matter which department they are in. I haven’t been able to work with everyone, but everyone I have come across has been very supportive during my time interning. They helped with questions I had on projects as well as making my time here memorable. Some of my favorite things I have participated in at Schmidt were: the events they have such as the office Thanksgiving dinner, white elephant gift exchange, ice cream socials, volunteering to feed the homeless, and being a part of the CANstruction team on build day.

What did you learn as an intern?

In terms of technical skills, I learned various things and brushed up on my current knowledge. Coming into Schmidt Associates, I knew the program Revit well. Constantly modelling and working on projects helped me advance my skills and knowledge even more, especially in terms of modelling in place and creating separate families using reference planes. In school and even today, I struggle with wall sections and understanding how they go together as well as knowing all the various materials available to use. During my internships, working on wall sections has allowed me to understand how the walls come together and what each part does for the wall. Going on site visits allowed me to see the material and structures during the process. I know it will be a continuous learning process as I grow in my field.

I also learned a little bit about myself in this process. Being at Schmidt Associates has opened my eyes to the fact I may want to work in a field other than residential architecture during my career. Eventually I still want to be a part of a residential firm to get experience in it to see if I would like it, but I have enjoyed working with the projects for K-12 and Higher Education. My passion for 3D modelling and rendering has grown as I have worked in Revit and used Lumion for my first time here.

What is your advice for future interns?

I would say to come in open-minded, ready to learn, and ready to work. Everyone in Schmidt Associates understands that this may be a new experience for some and more experience for others, but they are willing to help you grow in your career regardless. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, better to ask than to spend hours working on something and it be wrong. Relax and enjoy your time as you learn about your field.

We will begin our search for Spring 2018 Architecture Interns in the following months. Check out our careers page if you are interested in applying!



Q&A Session with Patricia Brant

It takes a strong, smart, and feisty woman to keep up with Sarah, Schmidt Associates’ CEO. But, have no doubt, Patricia Brant is definitely up for the task!





Let’s start with your background
Well, I come from a family of six, so I am used to having constant motion around me. After high school, I started as a customer service representative, moved on to become a receptionist, an administrative assistant, and eventually worked my way up through the ranks to become an Executive Assistant. I’ve been serving C-suite execs for approximately 15 years now, and I really do enjoy it. One of my favorite quotes is from the late author and psychotherapist, Alan Loy McGinnis, who said, “There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being – to help someone succeed.” I do that every day, and I’m proud of the work I do “behind the scenes”.

On a personal level, I am a single mother to Meg, a graduate student at Ball State, studying sociology. In the Summer of 2014 I purchased my first home, in Speedway. It was originally built in 1929 to house the construction workers building the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It needs some renovations, but generally speaking, it has “good bones”.

What inspires you?
My daughter inspires me. She inspires me to be a better person. It’s funny, even if I wasn’t her mom, I would still like her! I love how she sees the good in everything and everyone. And, no one makes me laugh as hard as she does. Our laugh-fests are epic.










What do you do in your free time?
I love to read (currently reading “My Life on the Road”, by Gloria Steinem). I also enjoying going to outdoor concerts and flea markets. I don’t buy a lot, but I enjoy looking. I think the flea markets draw me in with “old” things. I have a thing for old pitchers and chairs—even ones that aren’t functional. Maybe it is the story that they carry that I don’t know? I have never really thought about that.

What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is The Thorn Birds (1983)—a made-for-TV mini-series starring, Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. I loved the movie so much, I named my daughter after the main female character.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can touch my nose with my tongue.

Working on Mass Ave, what is your favorite food down here?
Of course I love The Flying Cupcake. The strawberry one, “Pretty in Pink”, is my favorite. But Bazbeaux is still one of my favs!

So next time you call or stop by the office and you find yourself talking to Patricia, say hello and introduce yourself. Her infectious smile, bubbly personality, and catchy laugh is sure to lift your mood.


Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe Redar, and Dave Jones

Q&A Session with Dave Jones

Sitting at his desk on the second floor all day, doing the things that electrical designers do, we haven’t had a chance to get to know Dave Jones much yet. So this week, we took the opportunity!



Tell me about your background.

Well, I am originally from Dayton, Ohio, but I was born in New Orleans and still have family there. When I started college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I spent my first two years with an undecided major. I knew I was good in math and tried several related majors. Engineering just seemed to stick and I graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in it. I moved to Indianapolis in 2000 after graduation.

What inspires you?
Taking care of my family is definitely the biggest driving factor in my life. I firmly believe that I must be good at my job and succeed professionally to provide well for them. I have been married to my wife, Jennifer, for 10 years. Together, we have Zoe, 10, and twin 7-year-olds, Davey and Samantha.

And, like anyone else, it’s nice to be recognized for a job well done.







What do you do in your free time?
I used to play sports a lot, but I recently blew out both knees at a trampoline park. I was entertaining the kids with slam dunks and managed to rupture both patellar tendons on my fourth dunk. I had to have both knees surgically repaired and was bedridden. When I finally regained some mobility, I had to use a walker, complete with tennis balls on the bottom to avoid scuffing the floors.








What’s your favorite book?
I really enjoy “The Stand” by Stephen King.

Do you collect anything?
Do gray hairs count?

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I have several bottles of hot sauce because I like my tongue to burn. If I had to choose, I would say my favorite is Cholula, though it isn’t necessarily the hottest. I also have Valentina, Frank’s, Tabasco, and Tapatio.

What is your favorite hidden activity or place to go in Indianapolis?
Since blowing out my knees, I look weird when I run—like a robot or something. Because of that, I had to find a new exercise routine, and I took up biking. I found this dirt road just off 96th Street, just west of Allisonville Road. There are some great trails back there.

Do you have a dream vacation?
I would love to visit Spain, try paella made the right way, and see the beautiful architecture there. Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t share the same vision.

It was such fun to sit down and talk with Dave. If you ever get the chance, give him a call. You might get lucky and he would be willing to share some of that hot sauce with you!

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom Neff, and Joe Redar

Q&A Session with Joe Redar

Spending just a few minutes with Joe Redar, Project Architect with Schmidt Associates, and you will recognize the intensity with which he approaches life. From his days in architecture school to his time at Schmidt Associates, Joe has known what he wanted and hasn’t hesitated to pursue it. Not so long ago, we had a chance to get to know him a bit better.


Tell me about your background.
I grew up in Lake County, but was ready for a change of scenery so my future wife and I relocated to Columbia, South Carolina. Though I was pursuing a career in education at the time, I got the itch and switched paths to pursue Architecture as a profession. I chose to go to the University of Kentucky because they had a competitive exam as part of the requirements into the program. That really impressed me; it seemed they were going to attract people with similar drive to me. I completed a 5-year bachelor’s program and immediately started working in the field.

Why architecture?
While I was in college studying education, I managed a camera shop and developed pictures. We oftentimes got professionally shot architecture and engineering photos. Seeing those projects coming up and out of the ground inspired me. I had always been a Lego kid with an interest in drawing. Those photographs rekindled the interest in architecture and engineering from my childhood.

What makes you tick?
I try to get the most out of every moment I can—whether home or work, I try to make each minute count. I get up with the mindset that I am going to use every minute of my day, or as much as is reasonable, anyway. I recognize that downtime is important, but I enjoy being pushed to expand my abilities. That is part of what I love about Schmidt Associates, they encourage my growth, both personally and professionally.

What do you do in your free time?
Music is really big in my life—contemporary bluegrass to be exact. Going to school in Kentucky, there were a lot of free bluegrass festivals.  My wife and I attended them often and still try to get to a couple a year.

Do you travel?
When I was in architecture school, my professor thought it would be an interesting experience for us to go to Cuba. He was right. I was fascinated by the way they maintained their buildings, cars, everything. Because the government was hindering their economic growth, the area was a faded glory of the 1950s, perfectly preserved in a time capsule. I imagine if I were to return now, it would be totally different.

Otherwise, I have been many places, but I think my favorite vacation is spent hiking.

What’s your favorite place to go in Indy?
Heidelburg Haus, a German bakery and café off Pendleton Pike. It is such a cool spot. The whole place is packed with things—beer steins and other weird, interesting German stuff. And they have excellent coffee too!

Joe and his wife, Julie have been married 19 years and have two kids—Ben, 16, and Liv, 12.








Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie Wilson, and Tom Neff


david_for-web David Logan, Graduate Architect






Tattoos on the Heart

By Gregory Boyle

I am always on the lookout for another memoir, and in all my searching, I have yet to find one I enjoyed as much as Tattoos on the Heart. Father Boyle is a Jesuit priest working in the heart of Los Angeles who runs Homeboy Industries, a program that seeks to intervene in the lives of gang members. Boyle serves as a father figure to the gang members, both spiritually and physically. The work of Homeboy Industries includes tattoo removal, a bakery, painting (over graffiti), and a variety of other services often with former rival gang members working alongside each other. As one might expect, the banter in the book is colorful, and the events are both humorous and heartbreaking. Boyle’s reflections are warmly endearing and spiritually meaningful, and altogether, this is an incredible story of humanity seen at both its best and its worst.

DesmaDesma Belsaas, Principal






Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg

This a great read for anyone. If you are not lucky enough to be a woman, you likely have a spouse, sister, daughter, friend, or co-worker who is. Being a woman can be both a blessing and a curse. Though there are many opportunities for women to succeed, there are numerous stereotypes and unconscious behaviors that are so ingrained in our society that it is difficult to overcome them. This book takes a great look at the ways we can help empower ourselves to look at how we treat women in today’s fast-paced world and what we can do to encourage their continued success.

new-staff-photoJoe Redar, Project Architect






The Snow Leopard

By Peter Matthiessen

This book is one part travel journal, one part naturalist essay, and one part spiritual quest. Ostensibly, the purpose of the journey is to study the wildlife of the Dolpo region of Nepal. Along the way deep insights are gained. The story does an excellent job of imbuing and elevating the landscape the narrator navigates through with spiritual significance. Highly recommended!

Want more recommendations?

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Blog #2

Q&A Session with Tom Neff

TomNeffJust sitting down for a friendly conversation with Tom Neff—Principal—you can understand why he leads our K-12 Studio. It’s always an interesting education and a fantastic conversation!




Tell me about your background
I grew up in Coshocton, Ohio, and attended The Ohio State University—one of the last Beaux Arts programs in the nation—for both my undergraduate and masters in Architecture. That lead me to teaching at the University of Notre Dame (also a Beaux Arts program) and then into practicing Architecture.

Uhm, Tom … what is Beaux Arts?
It’s a very rich and lavish type of architecture. But at The Ohio State, it was a style of presentation as well. Everything was done in watercolors and freehand drawing. It is more of a classical design training process, emphasizing color theory too. All work had to be drawn and watercolored beautifully when we turned it in. Each student’s project was hung on the wall and we were asked to leave the room. At that point, the faculty would get up and throw the ugly ones on the floor. It really forced the students to take a lot of self-initiative to stay in the program.


Painting in Spain









So what inspires you?
My children and my wife. Each one is so talented and giving in their own way. I love watching them use their talents to achieve remarkable results and truly make a difference in this world.

As far as design, it needs to have a sense of meaning that reaches and pulls from the past, follows through to the present, and moves on to transform the future. A true piece of architecture is something you can always go back to, but understand something new each time. If you understand everything from the outset, then it is over. To me, there always needs to be something new to see and discover.

Tell me about your family.
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Marilyn, for 40 years. She is a speech pathologist who specializes in early intervention. The things she does to help families is absolutely incredible.

My son, Matthew, is married to Alison and they have a son, Yasir, 14. Alison had been working at a foster care agency with Yasir for several years. After his seventh foster home didn’t work out, Matthew and Alison knew he needed to join their family.

My son, James, is married to Susan, a childhood cancer survivor. As such, they are extremely active in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Together, they raised more than $100,000 for cancer research last year!

Maxx is my schnauzer mix—a pound puppy from Kokomo. We are so lucky. He is a great dog and loves to travel!

img_3574 img_3609 img_3865







What do you do in your free time?
Well, I am an avid swimmer. I aim to swim roughly 2000 yards a day. And as you might imagine, I enjoy painting, drawing, sketching, watercolors, etc. Oh yeah, and I love to cook crazy things! I think my favorites are out of Food and Wine magazine.

Do you have a favorite movie or type of music?
As an architect, I loved the movie Gladiator. The reconstruction of the Coliseum was unbelievable!

As far as music, I like it all—opera to jazz to Broadway to classic rock, country western. My playlist is a fusion of many different styles.

There is so much more to Tom than we have time to get into here—be it his travels, his love of wine, or his animated personality. If you are ever looking for a great conversation, give Tom a call!

Also learn about Sarah Hempstead, Tricia Smith, or Charlie Wilson




megan-scott-2016 Megan Scott, Marketing Manager






The Serving Leader

By Kenneth R. Jennings and John Stahl-Wert

This book touches on five actions that can help transform your team, business, and community. It tells a great story that demonstrates what Servant Leadership (a core value at Schmidt Associates) is through real life examples. There are applicable ideas to take away from this book and use in your personal and professional lives.

Eddie Layton, Project Architect






Wizard’s First Rule

Terry Goodkind

As one who does not typically read fantasy series, this long series pulled me completely in and enthralled me. The story of a young man from the woods who discovers his identity and meaning to people he never knew even existed is a continuous adventure in a race against time to defeat evil. This series is 17 books long, so there is an overarching plot with many subplots throughout, weaving an interesting and exciting story that’ll keep your attention for days… weeks… or years. Non-traditional, fantasy characters fill this universe in which magic is a “gift” that very few individuals possess.

staff-portraits_dad1063Morgan McFarland, Communications and Digital Media Specialist






It isn’t a book, but it is something always on my shelf! I appreciate reading about what is going on around Indianapolis and the surrounding cities, whether it be new business sprouting up, politics, upcoming events, or sports (GO DAWGS!). No matter your profession or your personal interests, there is usually an article in the IBJ that effects your life somehow. Plus, it gives me a constant stream of topics to talk about with my peers.

Want more recommendations?

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Welcome to our WOYS (What’s On Your Shelf) Series

SarahOne of my New Year’s resolutions is to take the time to read more books in 2017. Books are a way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle, allowing us to dive into another world. Or books can serve as an inspiration, a motivator, or a new perspective on life. But it can be hard to find the true gems amid the selection of almost 130,000,000 books that currently exist in the world today. So we thought it would be a good idea to start a blog series designed to help everyone find the next book to add to their reading collection: we call it “WOYS”, short for What’s on Your Shelf. Each blog post in this series will list three book recommendations from our staff members. Some will be “meat and potatoes” (adding something to our lives) and some will be “candy” (pure entertainment). Watch as our collection grows! We would love to hear book recommendations from you as well.

I will start us off…



Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
by James Loewen

They say those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Through “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”, Loewen examines 12 popular American history high school textbooks and attempts to humanize our heroes while offering a more complete picture of American history. If you are like me, you will find yourself saying, “really?”, I have never heard that story throughout. Beware, questions raised while reading this book will likely result in additional hours of internet research.



The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

It’s not an easy challenge, introducing fantasy into history, particularly when dealing with subjects we struggle to discuss as the best of times. Colson’s remarkable novel does just that, telling the story of a renovated store in an America where the Underground Railroad is a real railroad—complete with engineers, train cars, and fluctuating schedules.

I read it in one weekend, totally taken in by the book’s universe. Fair warning, this is not an easy read. Awful things happen with regularity in this story. It’s worth the journey, but it is not a joy ride.



Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie

How did I miss Agatha Christie in my formative years?

The oversight was pointed out to me upon the news that Murder on the Orient Express would be released on the big screen (for the second time) in the Fall of 2017. Having remedied the situation, I plan on loading my reading list with more Christie. It’s smart, fun summer reading at its best. You’ll zip through this one and immediately want to download your next Agatha Christie.