Few industries have been as hammered by the economic downturn as architectural firms, "a large share [of which] are still coping with a sluggish and erratic marketplace," the
American Institute of Architects
reported last month.
But Bethlehem's Spillman Farmer Architects
has maintained a stable workforce of 30 designers for years, reports Joseph Biondo, the firm's design principal. "We've definitely weathered the recession, although it's been tough, due to diversity in our client base, building types and where we practice," he says.
The firm's specialty in business incubators and higher education helped provide shelter from the storm, with an array of projects from $1 million to $50 million-plus in locations as far away as Iowa and North Carolina.
"But we really appreciate the work in our own backyard," says Biondo, especially TechVentures2
, the nearby $18 million Ben Franklin Tech Ventures incubator expansion, which most recently earned the firm the National Business Incubation Association's Randall M. Whalley Incubator of the Year award.
Spillman Farmer designed BFTV's original incubator, converting a disused, 1960s Bethlehem Steel building. When it needed more space, BFTV again turned to the firm. The 47,000-square-foot expansion, says Fred Allerton, director in charge of the project along with project architect Christa Kraftcian, reflects a few changes: an emphasis on environmental sustainability (prestigious LEED Gold certification is pending) and a demand for highly flexible meeting space to accommodate thinking, computing and collaborating.
Other current Spillman Farmer projects include a mixed-use project in downtown Easton and a global learning village at Elon University in North Carolina.
Source: Joseph Biondo and Fred Allerton, Spillman Farmer Architects
Writer: Elise Vider