- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Eric Colby
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
For most of her life Beverly Foit-Albert, CEO of Foit-Albert Associates (FAA), a multifaceted architecture, engineering and surveying firm, has been boldly taking on atypical roles. The daughter of an architect, Foit-Albert entered the construction world as a young woman, gaining early insight and business acumen in the industry.
“I was always comfortable in construction,” she reveals. “I worked for my father’s firm throughout high school and in the summer and went on to Cornell, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture.”
Rising to the challenge
After college, Foit-Albert continued to work for her father’s firm as a draftswoman frequently going into the field. She started compiling the building blocks for FAA in the early 1970s. “I was working from home in my basement and in 1977 I finally decided I needed to climb out of the basement; people used to call me the groundhog,” jokes Foit-Albert. “I began FAA with just two other young architects. Once we landed some historic preservation work in the village of Orchard Park, N.Y., we finally set up the first real office.”
FAA moved to its current home in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1981 when the young firm scored the opportunity to perform façade restorations. “In the mid-1980s, the state of New York was seeking out female engineers,” recalls Foit-Albert. “Although my degree was in architecture, I had experience in structural engineering and design and if they needed an engineer, I knew we could provide that service.”
The company began to build a repertoire of state agencies and municipalities. “In the mid-1990s FAA expanded into surveying, civil engineering and utility analysis and now we’re a multiple-professional firm,” shares Foit-Albert.
A multitalented team
FAA still resides in Buffalo, but the firm has additional offices in Albany, as well as New York City. “We now have 55 employees with various specialties,” reveals Foit-Albert. “FAA has architecture, engineering and surveying services all in-house, but we’re especially known for historic preservations and our adaptive re-use of existing buildings. We’ve chosen to maintain a diverse, multi-service practice, from schools to universities and cultural work to civil engineering and construction inspections for highways and bridges.”
FAA’s architectural group has designed diverse building types, including university facilities, hotels, resorts, courthouses, sports and recreational facilities, museums, theatres and libraries. In addition, the company’s LEED-certified architectural and engineering staff is well-versed in sustainable building and site design. The engineering group serves a variety of local, state and federal clients, from highways and multiuse trails, to water and sewer systems and parking lots.
The firm’s surveying group handles professional land surveying needs for commercial and residential clients, with expertise in boundary surveys, ALTA/ACSM Land Title surveys, 1A and 2C survey and certification of wireless telecommunication facilities, FEMA Elevation certificates, topographic models, high definition laser scanning and more.
“A successful project, whether it’s a building, parking lot or communications tower, starts with a survey,” says Michael J. Pohl, PLS, vice president of surveying for FAA. “It has to be precise. It has to be timely. It provides the foundation for the rest of the design process.”
“We recently completed a high definition laser scan of an abandoned 200-foot elevator shaft in the Niagara Gorge at the old Schoellkopf Power Plant at Niagara Falls,” adds Foit-Albert. “We also designed the Niagara USA Official Visitor Center a few years ago on the American side at Niagara Falls.”
A positive, lasting impact
Among the wide-ranging scope of project delivery FAA offers, Foit-Albert says her favorite kind of job is one that benefits the local area and projects that incorporate functionality with nature. For more than a decade, the firm has partnered with the Buffalo Zoo to facilitate more than $35 million in renovations and new exhibits in the nation’s third oldest historic zoo. “We recently completed design of the Buffalo Zoo Arctic Edge Exhibit,” she shares.
The 1.5-acre exhibit will feature two large polar bear habitats with underwater viewing and will also house arctic wolves, Canadian lynx and American bald eagles. “We designed the habitats to convey the environment of the Arctic Taiga, implementing naturalistic landscapes, boulders and natural substrates with highly technical exhibit environmental systems,” notes Foit-Albert. The exhibit is slated to open in fall 2015.
From the Buffalo Zoo to the local Chautauqua Institution, FAA is paving the way for developments that enrich the community. “We’ve been working with the Chautauqua Institution, a cultural campus and school of art and music, since 1995,” reveals Foit-Albert. “Over the years, we have developed wonderful relationships with many repeat clients, including the University of Buffalo, the New York State Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and numerous colleges and universities throughout New York, as well.”
FAA has also worked with thousands of private clients on projects that impact local neighborhoods. “It’s rewarding to see the growth of these communities,” adds Foit-Albert. “Buffalo is where we started and it’s nice to see a more dense population and thriving area.”
Foit-Albert continues to influence her team to make a positive difference in the community and the corporate environment. In September 2013, Foit-Albert was recognized for her community spirit and passion as a female executive with a Women of Influence Award from Business First. And for the first time, in many years, she’s taking some time for herself to feed her passion for naturalistic design. “I’m leaving for Japan for three weeks to relax, study the beautiful architecture and look into business opportunities,” says Foit-Albert.
After 36 years, clients can rest assured; Foit-Albert Associates is a firm that combines quality, functionality and practicality with extraordinary design to better the environment, community and organization.
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