This month we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Butler, Rosenbury & Partners. Founded in 1978, we’ve covered multiple types of projects around the globe. Take a look as we remember our past, explore the present and transition to the future.
Geoffrey Butler always knew he’d be an architect. His father was one, and Geoffrey practically grew up in his office. He had always planned on getting his license and working for his dad’s company. Unfortunately, those plans came to a halt when his father unexpectedly passed away, and his firm folded.
“It occurred to me that if I was going to have an architecture firm I would have to do it myself,” explains Geoffrey.
Geoffrey Butler, AIA | Groundbreaking of the Financial Center Office Park in Springfield, MO, 1979
After graduating from the University of Kansas with his degree, he worked in several architecture and construction management jobs. Upon gaining his licensure in the state of Missouri, he started Geoffrey Butler, Architect with one client, James F. Morris, in April of 1978. He offered $300 a month to rent a conference room in an office building and moved in with his desk, a drawing table and a chair.
Over time, the office moved, staff was added, and he obtained more projects. In 1984, Tim Rosenbury joined the firm. “One of the things that Butler, Rosenbury & Partners always had are two principals with personalities that are not identical,” said Geoffrey. The different personalities allowed the firm to work with diverse types of clients. “It also became clear to me that we really needed to have more ownership and more responsibility to reflect that the firm wasn’t just Geoffrey Butler anymore.” The name changed to Butler Group, AIA. During this time, David Hess, Gerri Kielhofner and Mike Harned joined the organization. In 1990, the firm wanted to bring in more partners, but needed a name that could reflect that growth. The name changed one more time to Butler, Rosenbury & Partners. Christopher Swan, Benjamin Van Eps and Angie Way came on board.
“We went from a mom and pop architecture firm in the 80’s, to a more comprehensive design firm in the 90s,” says Tim Rosenbury, BR&P Managing Partner.
In 1997, Mike Harned and David Hess became partners. Tim continues, “By the 00’s we had become a multisite, multi-discipline firm,” During the 2000’s, Gerri Kielhofner, Angie Way, Benjamin Van Eps and Chris Swan all made partner. Tim continues, “When the recession hit in 2008, it didn’t cause us problems, so much as exposed certain weaknesses in our organization. Some of the markets we were working in were profoundly impacted negatively by the recession. We had to be nimble enough to change and find another model of practice.”
With a staff of 25, BR&P has returned somewhat to our roots. There are two areas of focus within the practice. One of those is and has always been working for clients in our community and region. “Butler, Rosenbury & Partners has always been known as a community-oriented business. We take this idea of corporate citizenship seriously, we want to be involved where needed in community organizations and issues,” explains Tim. BR&P Partners Chris Swan and Mike Harned have also assisted in these efforts. Chris has worked on a variety of education and community projects, and has served on multiple community boards. Mike has developed and maintained a relationship with Bass Pro Shops over the past 30 years, and partner and CFO, Angie Way, has assisted in coordinating firm volunteer efforts
The other major area of focus is developing and maintaining our hospitality practice. BR&P is nationally ranked, making the list of Building Design + Construction Giant’s 300 as a Top 100 Architecture/Engineering firm as well as a Top 40 Hospitality Architecture Firm. “We are working for clients on projects across the country and are doing projects of scale and significance. It’s very exciting,” says Tim. Leading those efforts are Partners Gerri Kielhofner, David Hess and Benjamin Van Eps. Over the past 30 years, they have worked on numerous Embassy Suites, including the recently opened Embassy Suites Hotel & Convention Center in Denton, TX. Other hospitality projects include the DoubleTree Hotel & Conference Center in Evansville, IN, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in downtown Louisville and the Renaissance Hotel & Spa in Glendale, AZ.
The BR&P Designed Embassy Suites Hotel & Convention Center in Denton, TX.
BR&P has relied on core principles that have held true throughout the years. Some of these include people first always, which means not only clients, but contractors, employees and anyone else we do business with. “Regard people as people, take your work seriously and take yourself less so,” explains Tim. Other principles: design matters profoundly, and excellent service is every bit as important.
“People come to us because they have a problem that needs to be solved, and it’s not just the product that we do, but also the process that is important.” Geoffrey adds, “It has to do with integrity. We have to do good work, but we’ve got to stand by our work, and respect our clients. We work very hard to satisfy their needs.” - Geoffrey Butler, AIA & Founding Partner
Jacob Nentrup, BR&P Intern Architect
For Tim, he explains BR&P’s growth as an act of transition. “If you’re not growing in some sort of way, whether that’s in number of employees, number of projects or types of projects, you’re probably dying. Growth usually is accompanied by change. We must constantly change and be ready to accept change. After all, as architects we impose change on others.”
Transition to the Future:
As we look to the future, expect to see several changes from BR&P. One of those is a potential firm name and logo change. “This will not be a new invention of the firm but a transition. We’ll probably see transitions in leadership, possibly transitions in location and in size,” says Tim.
What won’t change is how BR&P does things. It will still be about great design, great client service, and doing things that are architecture and architecture-related. “We will continue to put clients first, offer opportunities to emerging professionals and developing those individuals into really good architects,” Tim explains.
“I wanted to build a firm that had legs, that would survive me for a long time,” Geoffrey says, “We’ve got a core group of people here that get it. We’ve got people that can carry on and continue to do the good work that BR&P has done.”
Geoffrey adds, “We’re starting the next 40 years right now!” Thank you to our clients, our community, contractors, sub-consultants, our employees, past and present, and everyone for making the last 40 years great. Here’s to the next 40!
Also in the April Newsletter: Springfield-Branson National Airport Expansion Complete Why Architecture: Celebrating Architecture Week 2018