Principal with Tippetts/Weaver Architects Inc.
Q: How has the struggling economy affected your firm?
A: We didn’t really see it affect our clients until mid-September. We did see some people put projects on hold. It affected some of the nonprofits we work with. A lot of them had money invested.
Q: If a developer hires your company to draw up blueprints and then decides to not move forward with a project, does that affect your bottom line?
A: Sometimes (architects) see drawings through until the end of construction. It does affect us if we don’t see it through. In our industry, things drop off from November through January. What’s very strange is last week, we got calls on three new projects. Whether those will turn into real jobs, I don’t know. People are sitting on projects.
Q: Have customers scaled back designs to save money in this economy?
A: I think people are far more careful with their funding. It’s hard to tell because of the whole green movement. There has been oodles of information on building smaller and energy efficiency. We have a lot of clients ask us about getting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. There is more expense to get the paperwork, but people want to adopt green designs. We are seeing that the types of projects we are working on are a lot smaller. People need to continue to work on things to keep up their properties and meet building codes.
Q: There is a common school of thought in real estate and construction that says building green costs more upfront, and savings are delivered later from building efficiency. Is that still the case, or has green building caught on so much that it is no longer more expensive to go green?
A: So many companies are looking at where they get the product, all the way down the line to figure out how to be more efficient and be more green. From our design standpoint, we can (incorporate green designs at about the same price). A lot of our work involves using historic structures for adaptive reuse. What could be greener than that?
Q: Is there any advice you would give to any architect to help them get through the recession?
A: Patience and willingness to adapt. Eventually, things will come around. It’s easy to get upset. Most importantly, you need to enjoy your life, and take this opportunity to look at your office, reorganize things, work on your Web site, and refocus, and figure out what really is important to you as a firm.
About Wendy H. Tippetts
Wendy Tippetts turned her love of art into a successful architecture career.
In 1978, the Massachusetts native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art history and studio art from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon.
Following graduate school, Tippetts moved to New York and worked for an architecture firm, which was hired by a Lancaster County development company to design a project. Tippetts was assigned to the Lancaster job, which led her back to Lancaster.
Work kept coming in from the Drogaris Cos., so she wound up leaving the New York architecture firm and worked for the Lancaster County developer until 1987. That year, Tippetts and Gary Weaver, another Drogaris employee, formed Tippetts/Weaver Architects Inc.
With eight employees, the Lancaster firm is small, but well diversified. Tippetts/Weaver designs educational facilities, churches, adaptive reuses and residences.
Tippetts is at the office around the clock. And although she has little free time, when she does get time off, she enjoys traveling and scuba diving.
“I like to travel places to see other (architects) work in other countries,” Tippetts said.