ARCHITECTURE LEADERS TODAY
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MCLEES, BOGGS & SELBY ARCHITECTS The small firm out of Macon, Ga. handles the big dogs of architecture projects with ease after nearly 50 years in the business.
One Small Firm Juggles Many Big Projects taking full advantage of the digital age, mclees, boggs & Selby Architects handle a heavy client load with precision and ease and always deliver the very best.
THIS SPREAD: Ingleside Baptist Church, Macon, Ga. Photo by Walter Elliot.
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THIS PAGE: Ingleside Baptist Church’s exterior view of the gathering area and southeast façade in the daytime. OPPOSITE PAGE: (TOP) The interior space of the church was designed so that all parishioners would be able to see the action up front. (BOTTOM) The Baptistry is installed on a platform so that friends or family can stand close to the candidate for baptism. Photo by Walter Elliot.
ith a client-based philosophy and a firm grasp on digital rendering technology, McLees, Boggs & Selby Architects are able to tackle large projects, often juggling several at a time with only seven employees. This firm, based in central Georgia, leverages its skills with BIM software to enable them to manage a significant number of projects with a cost of $10 million or more. “We do our drawings in three dimensions and this helps in communicating with clients,” said Bill McLees, one of the three partners at the firm. “Clients tend to just nod their heads when they see a two-dimensional plan and not really understand what they’re seeing. But with the three-dimensional virtual models we can create, there’s more understanding and more feedback.” In order to get as much efficiency out of the staff that they have, the firm tries to complete all projects digitally and post work online for client review. The feedback they receive from clients is more specific, and the firm is able to zero in on what the client desires. And their purpose as a firm, McLees said, is to help the clients realize their own visions. The buildings should perform for their owners by improving 4 Spring 2011
the productivity and growth of the owner’s company or organization. After completing a new worship center in 2004, Ingleside Baptist Church has seen attendance grow significantly. The firm was able to handle this $16 million project in an 18-month design phase while making sure to gain input from church members. The architects accompanied church members on visits to existing churches in several states. This allowed the congregation and the architects to develop a common vision for the church that was to come. The architects worked with their acoustical consultants to develop a room shape that would support an active music ministry. The church members also wanted good views of the outdoors which the architects accentuated with large expanses of glass on both sides of the platform. The interior of the church features a modern worship style that is carefully supported by the audio, video and theatrical lighting systems. The interior was also designed so that the baptistry forms a part of the worship platform which allows it to provide a more intimate and accessible feel for family and friends joining the ceremony. In traditional southern Baptist churches, the baptistry is located behind the
choir loft and hidden behind a curtain. Stadium seating was incorporated instead of a balcony so that everyone would feel part of the cohesive group. The exterior style of the church is traditional with white painted brick staggered with stacked stone. It mimics the original sanctuary that was constructed in the 1950s. This sanctuary remains on-site and is used for weddings, funerals and other events requiring smaller space. Because McLees, Boggs & Selby usually handles a dozen or more projects at one time, the three principal architects meet every Monday to discuss in detail the designs and stages of each project. This ensures that each principal can give input and keep abreast of each other’s work in case one of them is out of the office. “There are a number of projects we work on at once, but if it’s a significant project then all three partners might focus on it at the same time,” Paul Boggs, another principal said. “Luckily projects seem to flow through in some order and our size helps us handle that. Sometimes we pass off projects between the three partners.” While a large firm may have 200 employees, they may assign only six or seven employees to
a given project. Because of this, McLees said his firm is often able to put the same man power on a project that a larger firm would. His firm might be slow to complete a project in some cases, but this is often because the partners take the time to enable their clients to develop their visions as they go. Often a company realizes the need to expand long before their needs are firmly established. McLees said that because of his firm’s relatively small size, he feels that the firm is able to be more flexible and accommodating of client needs and requests. “We want our buildings to perform for their owners,” David Selby, the third principal, said. “We often describe ourselves as a client-driven firm. We are not afraid to let our design work be driven by what a client wants. We don’t try to force any particular aesthetic or design solution. We simply ask ‘what works for you and how can we help you both functionally and aesthetically to realize a project that satisfies your needs and your vision?” he said. “Every successful project helps define a client’s image; it improves an organization’s productivity and allows businesses to grow.” McLees, Boggs & Selby specializes in institutional, educational and healthcare facilities, Architecture Leaders Today 5
THIS PAGE: (TOP) The west view of the main enterance to the Louie Livingston Hall. (RIGHT) The Surgical Technology Lab in Livingston Hall. OPPOSITE PAGE: (TOP) The library at Louie Livingston Hall. (BOTTOM) The entrance area to the health care facilities boasts a large skylight, cafe area using a multitude materials and compositions. Photos by Bill McLees.
but will take on almost any project, including churches and recreational facilities. The firm gains new clients by highlighting their philosophy and vision, and they also rely heavily on word-of-mouth and referrals. They also try to keep abreast of any future projects a current client might be contemplating. Unfortunately, competition has increased with the current economic climate. Larger firms are competing fiercely for even small jobs, and this makes it harder for smaller firms to win projects. In better economic times, there is simply more work available for firms of all sizes. Nevertheless, McLees said he is happy with the number of projects his firm has in the pipeline, and he has seen business pick up within the past few months. This has given him an optimistic outlook for his business and the state of the industry going into 2011. One recent project was the Lanier Building at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon. This three-story brick building was built as a high school in 1910. This adaptive reuse project was applauded by some in the local historical preservation community, who were interested in keeping the look and feel of the structure similar to the original building. The outside brickwork was restored and MBS Architects worked with the local Marvin Window supplier to replace the original singleglazed windows with a historically accurate look 6 Spring 2011
while incorporating modern elements such as insulated, low-e glazing. Only a small piece of cornice was left on the building, but through measurements and photographs, McLees and partners were able to reconstruct it. One challenge to the exterior of the building was adding a patient pick-up area. Because the building was constructed before the automobile was common, the drop-off area couldn’t be designed in a way that was truly historically accurate. The firm fashioned a canopy with brick pillars and a cast iron look in keeping with the period. They also utilized a white translucent canopy
that allows a great deal of natural light. “The canopy is quite handsome at night,” Boggs said. “There is a soft, incandescent look to the lighting, and it illuminates the building in an interesting way.” McLees and his partners are sensitive to the needs of their clients. Working on a wide array of facilities, often in high volume, they have created a support system among the principals that allows them to handle challenges in an efficient and client-pleasing way. Being small can mean being big in ways that count for the client and for the good of the firm. ALT
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MCLEES, BOGGS & SELBY ARCHITECTS 155 Franklin Street P.O. Box 975 Macon, Georgia 31202 www.mbsarch.com 478.745.6514