Waldon Studio Architects
- Written by: Erica Berry
- Produced by: James Logan
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Waldon Studio Architects (WSA) is a full service architecture firm committed to combining creativity and the latest technology to design community buildings, institutional, retail, light medical, schools and worship spaces. Founded in 2003, the firm celebrates over a decade of quality work for clients in both private and public markets.
Ravi Waldon, AIA, founder and principal of WSA, drives the company with his vision to serve communities with creative and functional architectural design. With a strong focus on creative thinking in connection and collaboration with its clients, the company is able to design spaces that have a purposeful intention and foster better environments. “We are dedicated to designing more than just buildings, we create communities,” explains Ravi.
Over the past five years, WSA has experienced double-digit growth and now employs 27 team members. In addition to its headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, the company also has satellite locations in Washington D.C. and Charleston, South Carolina.
Due to its continued growth, Baltimore Business Journal listed WSA at No. 10 in the running for the Largest Architecture Firm in the Baltimore Area in 2013, a jump of 10 spots from WSA’s 2012 listing as No. 20.
“While we will continue to seek growth opportunities, we want to keep the scope of our business relative to our manpower,” explains Ravi. “We want to stay nimble and provide our clients with the best designers and contractors available.”
Quality through collaboration
WSA’s designers work to create an atmosphere that fosters collaboration, which is why the firm excels at creating distinctive communities and cultures for both public and private clients, including community centers, businesses, churches, schools and government agencies. The architects of WSA embrace the differing needs of its clients and design facilities that will enhance the community life of the people who will use them.
“We really excel at helping our clients capitalize on their investment by creating multifunctional spaces in one building,” explains Ravi. “Our desire is to do great design at an affordable price, providing value in our service and in their space.”
Because of the depth of experience and expertise of its senior architects, WSA is able to provide a broad scope of services without compromising quality or work performance. The firm utilizes advanced technology in the process of working, such as digital laser scanning for field work. This accelerates survey work and is much more accurate than traditional methods.
The firm also is a leader in the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) with the use of AutoDesk REVIT software (REVIT), which allows for 3-D design representations and full clash detection with other engineering disciplines during design. REVIT also integrates with Navisworks software during construction, which provides information from the point of view of the general contractor – a unique insight for architects.
The firm’s reputation for design quality and technical excellence have become recognized by colleagues, contractors and most importantly, its clients – many of whom turn to WSA for design needs on multiple projects. “Our firm has an ability to present itself to clients, because we understand projects from both the architectural and general contractor perspectives,” Ravi explains. “It’s a quality that makes WSA unique and I believe it’s invaluable to our clients and our designs. The technology we use also makes it very simple for us to work together with clients to ensure they’re getting the most out of their space.”
When tackling a new project, architectural design and interior planning is done by in-house designers and engineering of the designs is subbed out. In order to provide the most efficient and quality work, WSA chooses the most qualified engineers to fit each job. “We will mix and match based on the project,” explains Ravi. “To better serve the communities in which we are working, we always hire a local civil engineer and design build team.”
The company has a growing portfolio of diverse projects, and has completed several large-scale designs and remodels in 2014. Most recently, WSA has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to re-design workspace and consolidate employees scattered throughout multiple buildings. Backed by a government initiative called Freeze the Footprint, a policy enacted in 2013 to control utilization and spending associated with federal real estate property, WSA’s new design allowed FEMA to close two of six buildings – eliminating unnecessary lease funds.
“With 20 percent of FEMA’s workforce telecommuting during the week, there was a lot of underutilized space in their original set up,” explains Ravi. “To increase density without overcrowding, we created a floor plan that allowed for multifunctional space and created specific areas for mobile and highly collaborative workers, as well as primarily desk bound employees. The building initially served just under 1,200 employees. By just rearranging the layout to allow more natural light into the space, centralizing some key elements and services and redesigning individual offices and workspaces on each floor, the building now houses 1,800 personnel and represents a total workforce of over 2,200 workers.
Additionally, WSA contracted with McCormick & Company’s consumer products division headquarters to re-design its existing 20-year-old employee cafeteria. WSA created an upscale open plan around a casual-contemporary theme desired by McCormick. The main room serves as a multi-functional dining and meeting area, and is even equipped with a custom designed kitchen and serving area with daily demonstration cooking. Audio and digital technology has also been included, allowing for professional quality food preparation and demonstration webcasting.
“To really determine what kind of space they needed, we launched them into menu investigations and developed a design around the types of cooking they wanted to do,” explains Ravi. “We built a multifunctional space that represents their brand and is reflective of their company culture. This was a very successful project and is at the hallmark of what we do.”
To showcase its breadth of work, WSA has also completed many worship space redesigns, including Northside Christian Church, for which it was awarded 2009 Solomon Award for Best Church Design and the Bay Area Community Church, which won an ABC Award.
“Churches are a great example of how to create a multifunctional space,” explains Ravi. “Traditionally, churches only see crowds on Sundays, but with the right layout and design, it’s possible to use the space during the week for everything from educational seminars, conferences, youth events, community events, as well as occasionally renting out the facility.”
By diving into new sectors and working on government projects, such as a redesign of the Distinguished Visitors Lounge at Andrews Air Force Base, where WSA acted as the contractor as well as the architect, the company has been able to keep financially healthy despite economic shifts. With a true heart to serve its clientele with quality design, Waldon Studio Architects has many years of success in its future no matter how the market ebbs and flows.
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