As part of developing good relationships, personally or professionally, you need to learn about the person. What do they like or dislike? What is their communication style? Do they want coffee, donuts, or both in an early morning meeting? Getting to know a client on a personal level and professional level is something we enjoy here at Schmidt Associates. It is great fun when we get the chance to work with past clients again!
For recent additions to two Westfield Washington schools, Anna Marie Burrell and I reconnected with original principals Scott Williams and Robin Lynch. But first, here is a little back story.
15 to 20 years ago, Anna and I had the chance to design several elementary schools for Westfield. The district chose to make the design of the first elementary school, Carey Ridge, a prototype and their corporation standard. The second and third iterations of the prototype were Oak Trace, with Principal Robin Lynch, and Washington Woods, with Principal Scott Williams.
At Oak Trace, we collaborated with Robin throughout construction to morph the prototype building into something more unique and specific to this school. The building was picked up, so to speak, and flipped so that it was a mirror image of the original prototype. This fit the site better, and allowed us to customize the school to reflect Oak Trace.
Anna Marie and I met with Scott for the next new elementary, Washington Woods. Scott was inspired by the proposed wooded site of the new elementary. He worked with us to adapt the prototype materials and colors to blend the building into and compliment the wooded environment.
Fast forward 15-20 years, and we reconnected to work on an addition to the original prototype, Carey Ridge Elementary. As the surrounding community grew, the administration and Principal Susan Hobson realized there was a need for four more kindergarten rooms and a community room to be added to the existing school.
In response to Westfield’s overall growth, the same spaces were then planned as additions to Oak Trace and Washington Woods. Since we had worked with both Scott and Robin on their original buildings, the design meetings started off at an accelerated pace. Ever enterprising, each principal jumped right in and told us how they could use the space best. Neither were shy about delving knee-deep into our materials library to select finishes.
Schmidt Associates used a highly visible, transparent approach at Oak Trace and Washington Woods to demonstrate a design with the children’s best interests at heart. With support of the community, these projects delivered spaces that support the before and after school care, the all-day kindergarten, and a community room for flexible use.
The casual, but professional client to architect relationship helped make these projects a pleasure to be a part of. It was fun to reconnect with the principals after several years and see them so successful in their elementary homes!
But don’t just take it from us, take it from two Westfield Washington elementary school principals:
Robin Lynch – Oak Trace Elementary
For me, the biggest thing is trust. You never know what you are going to get when you start working with a new vendor, contractor, or company. Having a long-standing relationship like I’ve had with Schmidt Associates’ K-12 leadership team means that I have been able to build trust over the years.
When we were planning our recent Kindergarten expansion, I had no hesitation having worked with Anna Marie Burrell and Cindy McLoed in years prior. I knew that working with them meant we would get exactly what we wanted and needed, and we would stay within our budget. It is important to me that our school delivers what the kids need most and function specifically for the Westfield community. Schmidt Associates knows how to take a generic design and tweak it until it uniquely serves our needs.
Working with the K-12 team from Schmidt Associates ensures that we are going to get the most child-friendly environment for our students, and that makes me very happy with their entire process. I truly have enjoyed working with them over the years.
Scott Williams – Washington Woods Elementary
I’ve worked with Anna Marie and Cindy for over 15 years now, when the first school project started. Schmidt Associates’ K-12 team has been good listeners and supportive to our school community. Their team really heard us, really considering what we needed and providing us with options. They strive to find what we uniquely need for our school here at Washington Woods.
Anna Marie, specifically, was the first person to bring me a design that didn’t include the “Westfield green” trim along the outside, which made me realize that we were on the same wavelength. Our ideas seemed to be in sync from there on out.