Get an early look at SFA Architects’ new headquarters: PHOTOS bizjournals.com /cincinnati/news/2017/11/29/get-an-early-look-at-sfa-architects-new.html
VIEW SLIDESHOW 19 photos
By Tom Demeropolis – Senior Staff Reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier 57 minutes ago One of Greater Cincinnati’s largest architecture firms is working to move its headquarters into a 1890s warehouse in Queensgate. SFA Architects Inc. is renovating a former warehouse at 555 Carr St. into an office building that will be home to the growing firm. Kim Patton, chief operating officer of SFA Architects, said the new building will provide the firm muchneeded room. “We’re doubled up in offices, we have people working in the materials library,” Patton told me. To get a look inside the building, which is still under construction, click on the images above. The conversion of the building is expected to be a $4.8 million investment. Work is scheduled to be completed in March 2018. The firm also has been one of the fastest-growing firms in the region. In the last two years, the firm has grown at a rate of 35 percent. SFA Architects is now the fourth-largest architectural firm in Greater Cincinnati with 25 local registered architects. That’s up from sixth in 2016 when the firm had 19 registered architects, according to Business Courier research. 1/3
With more than 80 employees currently, the firm is expected to add another 25 jobs in the coming years. SFA Architects’ current office downtown at 300 W. Fourth St. only has 19,000 square feet of space. Patton said one of the biggest issues the new building solves is parking. Currently, SFA Architects employees park anywhere from six to eight blocks away. At 555 Carr St., employees will be no more than one block away. Emilio Fernandez, founder of the 50-year-old firm and partner with SFA Architects, is working on the new headquarters for the firm. What’s unique is that SFA Architects is acting as owner, developer, architect and general contractor on the project.
Trending Part of the renovation project includes adding a fifth-floor office space, which will be used by Fernandez. It will have an outdoor deck with views of downtown Cincinnati. “It will have a lot of guests,” Patton said. The building had always been a warehouse, where railcars would drop off goods on one side and then load them onto wagons or trucks. The wood floors are 3 inches thick with a 2-inch subfloor covered by 1-inch wood floors. The character of the building is being preserved, such as the brick walls and the heavy timber beams. A number of items found in the building, such as old carts, are going to be transformed into furniture. The new space will have large spaces where SFA Architects employees can work together on projects. Patton said as projects have become larger, the teams working on them have grown, too. The space also will give the firm the ability to host more client meetings. The first floor will house marketing and accounting employees. Architects will be on the third floor, with the engineering and interior design employees on the fourth floor. At this time, the second floor will not be occupied when the firm moves in. It could be saved for expansion space or be leased to another office tenant. SFA Architects also is using this new building to provide space for employees to bring their children to work. Patton said with employees’ hectic schedules, they wanted to provide activity areas that were kid-friendly. SFA Architects received assistance from REDI Cincinnati, the region’s top economic development organization, as well as JobsOhio. Kimm Coyner, vice president of business development and project management for REDI Cincinnati, said the organization was happy to support SFA Architects' continued growth. “When a company nearly doubles in size in three years, we know good things are happening,” Coyner said. The firm was founded 50 years ago by Fernandez, who had escaped from Cuba in 1960. After coming to Miami in 1960, Fernandez could understand written English but could not communicate verbally. He was offered a job at a firm that had seen his published work from Cuba, where he redesigned the airport that had been burned by Fidel Castro and Hospital “Liga Contra la Ceguera” (League against Blindness). In 1961, Fernandez moved his family to Cincinnati, where his wife Otilia’s parents had moved. He worked for an architectural firm doing renderings and sketches. Then, in 1964, he took those renderings to the president of the Architectural Board of Ohio hoping to get his registration. Fernandez passed the five-day test on his first try. He founded Stallsmith Fernandez Architects in 1967. In the early 1990s, Fernandez named his son, Tom Fernandez, as CEO of the firm. Under Tom’s direction, the firm has grown into a team of more than 80 employees in three offices. Emilio Fernandez still works a 40-hour work week. He likes to work on two projects at a time, one that is under 2/3
construction and one that is in development. Fernandez also spends a lot of his time teaching young architects at SFA. Patton said working under Fernandez is like getting a master’s in architecture. “I enjoy working,” Fernandez said. “I keep learning.”
Read about the renovation of the new headquarters office in the Cincinnati Business Courier.