“We feel it is critical to be stewards of society, to leave things better than we found them, and to create places that improve the built environment for all.” – Cole Architects Design Process Values.
With this strong statement, Cole Architects has accepted a great deal of responsibility and set a vision for the work it will do in the years to come. To learn more about this ambitious and commendable mission and how it is playing out in Idaho, we sat down with the president and managing partner of Cole Architects, Matt Huffield.
Huffield came to Cole Architects in a roundabout way. However, the detour made him the perfect leader for the 10-person architecture firm. After working on projects in Houston, LA, and NYC, Huffield wanted to create a strong, diverse foundation in Boise. That is when he met with Stan continues designing on a semi-retired basis.
Cole founded Cole Architects with the motivation to not only create functional and beautiful spaces but also pursue philanthropy. This altruistic mindset has guided the firm through many projects. They include government buildings, education, offices, light industrial, medical, retail hospitality, adaptive reuse, and mixed-use developments.
The Ronald McDonald House
One such philanthropic project Cole Architects recently finished is the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Boise. For years, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho have been giving families of sick children a place to rest and refresh close to their hospitalized children. After raising 15 million dollars from the community in just 18 months, the charity brought in Cole Architects to design the new space. Cole Architects worked closely with the contractor to open the building in 15 short months. “It was a very fast-paced [project]; we all signed up for it ahead of time and said we’re going to get this done.”
The charity was previously functioning in an old house. Making the building feel like a home was very important to the owner. “We had to work with the east and north end neighborhood districts to make sure that we were going to put something in their neighborhoods that fit the urban fabric.”
Another unique project Cole Architects is currently working on is the new 55,000 s.f. headquarters for PetIQ in Eagle. Like the Ronald McDonald House, this building also has an aggressive timeline and will be unique for the area. It will wrap up in June of this year. However, working in Eagle has been challenging. Between its contemporary style, large overhangs, and three stories with a rooftop deck, the new building has undergone heavy negotiations to comply with local zoning ordinances and codes.
Cole Architects embraced the challenge by clinging to their core principles. “As architects, it’s our ethical responsibility to improve the community, improve the built environment, and do what’s right environmentally, etc. Our responsibility is not necessarily to the owner or architect but to the project and society as a whole. “From the very beginning of the project, the owners have kept the Eagle community in mind. They grew up in the city and are very involved in the community. Creating something that would enhance the area they love was very important to them.
The reason Cole Architects were perfect for this particular project comes down to their problem-solving and creative skills. As Huffield says, “I think the important part is learning how to design, how to problem solve, and be creative. As we automate our world, creativity is going to be one of the last things that we automate. It’s the one thing that a computer can’t do. “That is why they have worked hard to build such a talented and dedicated, detail-oriented, and civic-minded staff. Cole Architects continues to be successful because they understand the fundamental principle. “We are only as good as the people who work with us.”
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