In 2020, two architectural powerhouses, Arrasmith, Judd, Rapp, Chovan, Inc. (AJRC) and Schmidt Associates, joined forces, setting the stage for a transformative journey. Mere months before the global shutdowns, the merger birthed a new entity, an extension of Schmidt Associates in Louisville, Ky., with a shared vision of becoming a regional leader in architecture, engineering, and interior design, specializing in diverse sectors like K-12, Higher Education, Community, and Healthcare building design.
As operations commenced, the Louisville office faced a significant hurdle —a workspace marred by challenging parking, heavy traffic, and a layout that hindered collaboration. Recognizing the importance of a conducive work environment aligned with Schmidt Associates’ commitment to servant leadership, the team sought a new home that would foster collaboration, socialization, and community engagement.
“With a fairly vacant older building, narrow footprint, and private offices on exterior walls, there wasn’t a lot of energy in the old space,” recalls Project Architect Alex Hoffmann. “When we moved to Paristown, it was a big change for the better with more daylight and an open office concept. We also saw productivity and collaboration increase. There was so much more energy being in an up-and-coming area.”
Driven by a desire to be part of a community with a rich history, CEO and Principal Sarah Hempstead and I found Paristown, a revitalized neighborhood two miles from downtown Louisville where there is always something exciting happening, from markets and concerts to special events. The discovery marked the beginning of a journey toward a new era for Schmidt Associates.
The chosen location, the Stoneware & Co. building on Brent Street in the heart of Paristown, offered a canvas-rich in history. Once a candy factory in the 1970s, the early 1900s building underwent a remarkable transformation. The once dilapidated space with uneven wood floors, brick walls, and industrialized windows, now boasts an open floor plan flooded with natural light, preserved brick walls, and large windows reflecting the industrial charm of yesteryear.
“At first, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop,” Interior Designer Amber McKinney said. “What we have now is a much more vibrant, collaborative, and appealing workplace with new furniture and customized art, which attracts people.”
To achieve a modern take on a historical candy factory, the office features carpeting mimicking concrete and stone in neutral tones. This luxury vinyl tile enhances the aesthetic appeal and serves practical purposes by buffering against noise and requiring minimal maintenance. One private office, three conference rooms, focus booths adorned with AJRC architectural drawings, and a thoughtfully designed kitchenette create a dynamic, collaborative workspace.
Entering the lobby, visitors are greeted by renderings of Greyhound bus stations designed by AJRC’s Founder, William Arrasmith. Intentionally placed to evoke a sense of history, the space also displays a custom mural by local artist Kacy Jackson, depicting the Louisville skyline intertwined with past Schmidt Associates projects.
A key objective post-merger was to foster pride, ownership, and inclusiveness between the Indianapolis and Louisville offices. A project wall, featuring completed projects from both locations, serves as a tangible expression of the unified One Schmidt culture. The intentional choice of Paristown also aligns with Schmidt Associates’ commitment to urban renewal, as the neighborhood itself has undergone a major revitalization, and large portion of Schmidt Associates’ projects are revitalization efforts.
Schmidt Associates’ journey to Paristown exemplifies the power of adaptive reuse and historic preservation. The commitment to creating a collaborative, aesthetically pleasing workspaces reflect not only a smart business decision but also a dedication to community engagement and the seamless integration of the past and present. In relocating to one of Louisville’s oldest remaining buildings in an up-and-coming neighborhood, Schmidt Associates has not only defined a new era in its operations but has also become an integral part of the vibrant tapestry known as the Paristown revitalization.
J.R. Robertson is a principal and Healthcare Studio leader for Schmidt Associates. He believes that knowledge gained through years of experience is the ingredient that moves the design process forward, and the sense of accomplishment that follows gives great meaning to the hard work required. He considers customer satisfaction, earned respect, and ongoing friendships with clients as measures of success, and attributes his career to the pillars of creativity, dedication to hard work, organization, problem solving, and strategic planning.