The following is a re-print of an interview with 2WR's founding partner, Sam Andras, conducted by Shelley Dean for Columbus CEO, originally published January 20, 2016:
Q. How does 2WR approach projects?
A. First and foremost we believe every project is a design project regardless of program, budget, size and/or schedule. Philosophically, we operate on a mission of promoting architectural excellence in every aspect of design. Our methodology embraces a hand-in-hand process from beginning to end. This approach ensures an exceptional understanding of the client’s vision, mission, goals, needs, desires, budget and schedule. This information provides the foundation for ensuring projects which support our clients in every aspect of their business. The end result is the development of an Architecture of Purpose which we define as design authenticity positively impacting our clients’, their communities and the environment.
Q. How would you describe 2WR’s style? Is there a signature touch?
A. We’ve always, since the day we opened, agreed authenticity is a key component of successful architecture. We also strive to develop designs that are timeless and transformational. Based on this we believe our style is more related to quality and detail than specific language. Exceptional design is achieved through the smallest of details, something we always strive to ensure. We believe it’s this level of detail that defines us.
Q. What do you see as the value of architecture in today’s society?
A. There are so many positive aspects to good architecture; yet many go unrecognized. About two years ago we did a Rotary presentation which focused on what Columbus Park Crossing could have been. We utilized Ashley Park (Newnan), Pier Park (Panama City Beach), Bridge Street Town Center (Huntsville) and several others as examples of outdoor shopping plazas. We then focused on Ashley Park since Newnan is within sixty miles of Columbus. We looked at things like median household income, crime rate, poverty level and average home value the year prior to construction and five years after completion. The change was amazing. Higher median household income and home values along with lower crime rate and poverty levels. Why? Because the defined direction dictated change; the old saying ‘If you build it they will come’. What we see is the built environment supports bringing people who desire something ‘better’. Many of these people are creative and progressive. They create jobs, arriving with the desire to invest in the community and build on the vision.
In this way architecture is a catalyst for defining vision and direction. This approach applies from micro to macro; from workspace to city. If you look at what’s happening in Denver and Seattle you’ll understand why these two cities are at the top of the list for millennials. Both made a substantial investment in branding and redefining themselves in a manner that specifically targets the lifestyle of millennials. The idea of living, working, and playing in one location or without the need of a car. What’s really exciting with the concept is how it’s caught on across the board. Just look at our downtown. We have the CSU campus, historic district, Eagle and Phenix, and so forth providing a multi-cultural and multi-generational mix. The more diverse the mix the more diverse the amenities become. The thing we need to remember is this doesn’t just happen. It’s initiated through vision followed by initiation through the understanding and impact of built environment.
Another aspect of architecture in today’s society is the visual impact. People are extremely visual. Our thoughts and emotions are drastically influenced through our assessment of our environment, our surroundings. Consider your workspace. Over the long-haul would you be happier and more productive working in a cubicle located in a white-box basement space with no windows, or a low-wall personal zone in vibrant open office space filled with natural light? Now consider what environment means to a business owner. Things like more productive and happier employees help a business succeed. Take this understanding and apply it to teachers and students in a classroom, it’s the same thing. People are going to be more productive and more successful in an environment that supports and enhances their activities.
Lastly, I’d say today’s society has an exceptional concern with our environment; hence the ‘green’ movement. The concern transcends traditional architecture on many levels, yet addressing the concern falls squarely on the shoulders of architects.