It all started with a Phoenix.
A Morgan 27 sailboat named Phoenix, that is. One day in 1980, Butch Charlan and Gary Brock were sailing on Butch’s boat, discussing their ideas for the future. Wanting to live their lives with purpose and make a positive impact, they decided to start their own architectural firm, and Charlan Brock & Associates was born one year later.
Work began on a dining room table as Butch and Gary started designing single family homes. As their portfolio grew, so did our company; among early hires was future partner Doug Anderson. As CBA began designing more complex projects towards the late 1980s, such as duplexes, quadplexes, townhomes, and master-planned communities with clubhouses, the world went into recession. There was a global liquidity crisis, and many single-family home buyers disappeared.
By the early 1990s, projects were becoming more complex, requiring more specialized expertise. As CBA expanded, we continued master-planning communities and began to design apartments.
The late 1990s were marked by major developments in technology. In architecture, some firms resisted new technologies, but we were an early adopter of computer-aided design. Market demand was fierce; the single-family housing market was being commoditized by large-scale industrial homebuilders. With our passion for progressive community placemaking, we focused our efforts on apartments and condominiums, primarily in urbanizing areas.
While the 2000 dot-com crisis shook the housing and construction industries, the result was a shift in housing-type demand. And in 2008, the world was brought to its knees by the Great Recession. Financial markets were wrecked; demand for all new housing evaporated. While other architectural firms were shuttering doors and declaring bankruptcy, we persevered through this very challenging period.
As the country recovered, we sought out talented designers, passionate project managers, and experienced construction administrators, and before long we were back to our pre-recession size.
In 2012, Doug Anderson and Mary Moltzan were promoted to Partners. Under their leadership we grew our Revit Building Information Management (BIM) software capabilities and began to design complex mixed-use projects and student housing in great locations, and often on challenging lots.
In 2018, long-time leaders within the company Allen Dapson and Craig Garbarini were promoted to Partners. As we further developed our leadership team, we revisited our long-term vision for CBA. Now known as Charlan Brock Architects, we engaged with the Lead With Purpose, a consulting firm that helped us get to know ourselves better. We refocused our mission statement, values, and blue sky vision, and we use these principles as our guide to ensure the decisions we make align with our goals. Our core leadership group continues to grow and includes more team members than ever, and we are committed to fostering development at all levels of the firm.
As a modern architecture firm, we’re fully invested in Revit and other software, and we also laid the groundwork for our employees to work remotely. This initial planning proved invaluable during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, as the majority of our staff transitioned quickly to working from home for months on end. Our team came together to support each other in a remarkable way, and we believe we’re an even closer family now than before. With proof that we’re able to thrive while working remotely, we’re also taking the opportunity to reimagine what the modern workplace looks like, and how to engage each other in meaningful ways.