Advantage Industries Makes Remote Architecture A Reality For Waldon Studio Architects
Before you watch/read: This interview features just one of Advantage Industries’ many clients, exploring how we help them do what they do. You can get in touch with our team directly to discuss our services, our approach to technology support, and what we can do for your business.
Advantage Industries Helps Waldon Studio Architects Collaborate On Massive Files Through The Cloud—No Downtime, No Delays
Advantage Industries has officially launched a new video series, featuring interviews with a number of our clients to explore how technology helps them overcome industry-wide challenges. The first installment features Christa Kerrigan, Principal & Director of Business Development, Waldon Studio Architects:
Who Is Waldon Studio Architects?
Waldon Studio Architects has been in operation for 18 years, providing robust and bespoke design services to clients throughout Columbia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Today, the firm serves a wide range of industries, having grown out of an initial client base of faith-based organizations, community centers, schools, and nonprofits.
“We were founded to serve and strengthen the community through design,” says Christa. “I feel like it is our calling to create and serve and elevate our clients’ mission and vision and purpose for being here.”
A key aspect of Waldon Studio Architects’ mission is the understanding that architecture is not about promoting your firm through design. Their team is not in the business of designing Waldon Studio Architects-buildings. It’s always about what the client wants.
“It’s about serving your specific clients and their specific needs,” says Christa. “No two clients are the same.”
Waldon Studio Architects’ team believes that by understanding their client’s needs on a fundamental level, they can often integrate solutions to business problems directly into the design. For example, when their religious clients noted the challenge of attracting millennial-age congregants, Waldon Studio Architects was able to incorporate that pain point into their design process.
“We can give presentations and research that might help facilitate them meeting their goals of welcoming a younger generation and how design can foster that,” says Christa.
The Pandemic Hit Architecture Firms Especially Hard
Like so many other industries, the architecture sector’s supply chain was drastically affected by the pandemic. Waldon Studio Architects has had to become especially creative in finding the right materials, achieving alternative solutions, and accommodating expanded timelines to get the assets they need for their clients.
“The biggest challenge that’s happening right now are the changes in the supply chain,” says Christa.
Key resources such as lumber, plywood, steel are more expensive and have longer lead times on orders. It has been difficult to manage with clients because there’s no clear answer as to when things will return to the way they were.
“We’re trying to flex very quickly to meet the needs of our clients in a changing market,” says Christa. “It’s difficult because it’s unpredictable.”
Delays are affecting all industries. Whether it’s an order of plywood or a new computer, you can’t count on it to show up according to a reliable timeline.
“It used to take a month, and it now probably takes 3-6 months,” says Mike. “That’s frustrating.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also caused a lot of technology-based problems for the business world—architecture firms in particular. Prior to the pandemic, the Waldon Studio Architects staff was used to being able to share ideas on paper or on a whiteboard. They would sketch, edit and collaborate in person.
Going remote as a result of the pandemic changed all that. Waldon Studio Architects needs to be able to share designs, 3D models, and more with their team members whether they’re in the office or at home.
Accommodating the remote model for another type of business was certainly a challenge, but it’s especially resource-intensive for architecture firms—their average file is 10 times larger than that of a business in another industry. That makes the consideration between on-premise and cloud-based storage very important to architects.
“We need to access all of our files, of all sizes, from every device and everything geographic location at all times,” says Christa. “We will have many people working on the same project at the same time live. Going with a cloud-based solution is helpful for that.”
Furthermore, the design standards have changed as well. How large a school and its classrooms need to be is a fluid consideration at the moment. Between remote learning and hybrid classrooms, class sizes are not as clear-cut as they were a year and a half ago.
“The way that we work together, technology has fostered that and changed things a lot,” says Christa. “So, making sure that we still have a connection to our clients and can demonstrate our design capabilities with technology is very important.”
That’s why it’s so important to think ahead. Whatever your next project or upgrade maybe, you need to start planning for it now so you can get ahead of whatever delay it may entail. Part of this planning process should be consulting with an expert.
“Talk to your vendors now if it’s on your mind,” says Mike.
That’s why Waldon Studio Architects maintains such a close working relationship with Advantage Industries. By working together well ahead of their needs, they deal with them proactively.
Waldon Studio Architects operates a hybrid work environment, with staff members in the office, at home, and on the go accessing projects to make updates. This makes them heavily reliant on technology. Whether they’re using Revit for 3D modeling and BIM, or developing graphics and rendering animations for presentations, the Waldon Studio Architects staff needs to be able to rely on their infrastructure to stay productive.
“Having technology that facilitates all of that flexibility is critical,” says Christa. “Advantage Industries has facilitated all of that for us.”
Advantage Industries Helped Waldon Studio Architects Overcome Their Pandemic Problems—Here’s How
Advantage Industries has ensured that every employee has access to the data and resources they need, no matter where they’re working from. This keeps Waldon Studio Architects active, their staff productive and their clients happy.
“There is no downtime as a result of having to wait for somebody to come into the office,” says Christa.
Advantage Industries has developed a robust hybrid IT environment for the Waldon Studio Architects staff. We have incorporated a reliable Internet connection with a redundant connection (which we have arranged to function simultaneously and achieve greater speed). Furthermore, we have ensured all their employees have the necessary resources and bandwidth to connect to data and apps in the data center.
Keep in mind—not only does this IT environment need to work, but it also needs to perform at a high level. All of this goes to show why IT has become such a critical investment.
“That’s the key—when you are talking about technology for any industry, it’s a smart place to strategically invest,” says Mike.
Advantage Industries Is Waldon Studio Architects’ Committed Partner
Going forward, Waldon Studio Architects and Advantage Industries will continue their partnership, proactively tackling problems and adapting the way they work together to promote unparalleled success.
For Waldon Studio Architects, this means finding new ways to design and build sustainable and resilient buildings. Sustainability is an ongoing priority at the moment and is a matter of ensuring energy efficiency, use of the right materials, and the incorporation of renewable resources. Resiliency goes further to ensure buildings can withstand cataclysmic weather events, changing environmental conditions, and more.
“Buildings need to withstand longer, they need to be customized to meet the needs of a large diverse group of people, and they need to work together in a community system,” says Christa.
Advantage Industries will be with Waldon Studio Architects every step of the way as they grow and develop their business to meet the needs of future clients. If you work at an architecture firm and need expert support overcoming ongoing business problems, get in touch with the Advantage Industries team to start solving them.