“We have a mission statement… to improve people’s worlds… and that’s really what we’re all about,” says Ron Dick, a registered architect who is also one of the three partners who formed Designed Collaborative. “There’s a building that comes out of what we do, but our focus is to build ‘people-first places’ – a space that is custom designed for one particular person, group or business.”
Dick and two associates, architect Pat Pasterick and mechanical engineer Terry Wagner, spent ten years working together at a local company when they decided to merge their enthusiasm and talents and start their own firm. They formed Design Collaborative in 1992, bucking the commonplace practice to use their names in the firm’s title.
“It’s not just about Ron, Pat and Terry,” says Pasterick. “We saw this as something that could be big. It was built on the idea that this was going to out-live us. We wanted to create something that was significant. So, everything we’ve done for 25 years is to make sure we were building leaders with our team to create an environment that, when we would retire, there were going to be greater things happening than we even imagined.”
A full-service architecture and engineering company, Design Collaborative can take credit for dozens of structures and sculptures that grace the local landscape.
“We’re very proud of the work we’ve done in the downtown area: the Harrison, the Skyline Tower that’s being built right now, Cityscape Flats. We also designed Science on a Sphere at Science Central and we’ve been involved with the first phase of development for the Riverfront project,” says Wagner.
Located on the sixth floor of the 1st Source Bank Building on Main Street in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, the views from DC’s sprawling office space are magnificent. When the company first opened, it was located on Columbia Street on The Landing. Later, the business was moved to a building on Barr Street where the Farmer’s Market is now located.
“We were looking for a new downtown space in 2008 and that’s when we moved into our current office,” says Dick. “Downtown is where we started the firm and we’ve always felt like it was important to support our community and help downtown to grow and become a vibrant place for people to live and work.”
DC’s footprint extends far beyond northeast Indiana. Its work can be found all over the country.
“We have jobs as far away as Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio,” says Kelsey Rowe, an electrical engineer and Senior Associate at DC. “We have close to 80 percent repeat work, which I think is a testament to the quality of the people we’re putting on projects and the product that we’re delivering and how it really embraces the collaborative nature with our clients.”
“Relationships are huge to us,” says Pasterick. “Ninety percent of that is trust. Our clients know they can trust and rely on us.”
Trust stems from being open, and that’s the theme of DC’s office.
“None of our offices have doors on them,” says Dick. “It’s an open space so that the teams we put on a project truly collaborate with each other and the final product is better because of that process. Everyone is treated as an equal here. Even a summer intern wouldn’t feel intimidated to go to one of the partners and ask a question, because of our open concept.”
While DC’s team takes its work very seriously, it also recognizes the need to relax and have fun.
“Our goal is to make life better for our clients and also for the people here at DC,” says Dick. “I think we really have a family-type environment here. We are in a high-stress, deadline-oriented profession, so we do whatever we can to ease that.”
Over the years, Design Collaborative has been recognized with awards such as “Best Places to Work in Indiana” and “The AIA Indiana Distinguished Firm of the Year.” The company is hosting a large party this month to celebrate 25 years of success with hundreds of their business associates.
“Everything we do is about people and trust and creating relationships,” says Wagner. “It’s just the whole idea that you’re always looking at the bigger picture and asking what we can do to make things better.”
Address: 200 E. Main St., Suite 600 Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Phone: (260) 422-4241
Years in Business: 25
Number of Employees: 60
Products & Services: Full-service architecture, interior design and engineering company