“Authenticity is key,” says both Ron Novak and Rob Busch, founding partners and architects for full-service architecture and design firm Drawing Dept. From the moment they meet a client, they involve everyone from their talented team and their client’s general contractor so that they have a plethora of voices to listen to. It is vital to listen to the client to really dig deep and get to the very heart of what makes them unique.
Novak and Busch formed Drawing Dept in 2005 – at the time headquartered in Busch’s basement – and focused primarily on custom residential projects. Throughout the years, the Drawing Dept team, having expanded to 15 people, has approached bars and restaurants the same way they approach a residential project. “You have to learn every bit of everything about the family,” says Novak. “It’s the same for commercial projects.”
To work with multiple scales and varying budgets, they call on their diverse team of contractors and consultants to bring in a well-rounded field of knowledge. “Other people help to make us better,” says Novak. “We build a diverse team and stay present. We know there are experts that do things that we don’t do.”
When a client chooses Drawing Dept, they are selecting the whole Drawing Dept team. “You hire all of us,” says Busch. “[The project] isn’t just given to one person. We cultivate what [a client’s] brand is. There’s no ‘typical.’ We have to bring everyone in. Everyone involved has knowledge, and input.”
To deliver the best possible designs and solutions for a client, Drawing Dept employs a cross-fertilization technique with their approach to problem solving. Their “horizontal” office setting allows the architects to share ideas and inputs. “Most people who work here will wear many hats along the way during a project,” says Novak. “We aren’t afraid to bring in brand-new people and introduce them to a process and ask them what they think. They each offer a different skill set and a fresh, new perspective.”
Speaking of the team and their clientele, Busch says, “How about we listen to what they are saying and become smarter? There are a lot of people with good ideas.”
“You can’t go around the city and say, ‘That’s a Drawing Dept project,’ because it’s not about us,” Busch continues. “It’s about the client. Hopefully, if we are recognized at all, it is because [the project] is done with care and excellence.”
To get to that point, Drawing Dept challenges the client by leading them to places they have not yet traversed. “A client is not going to get one person’s ideas modified three different ways,” says Busch. “[Our team] is going to get all the same criteria on the input side, but all of the output will look radically different. This keeps the client engaged and empowers them to make choices.”
“It’s really freeing,” Novak says. “We take lots of [members of our team] to meetings because everyone hears things differently. There’s no hand-off.”
“We’re better as a team rather than a bunch of individuals,” Busch adds. “We’re about winning this thing together. We truly believe it’s in the client’s best interest to have a team that’s pulling together.”
Drawing Dept is a family of architects that welcomes challenge and practices without fear of being wrong. “We are not a firm interested in the trendiest thing,” says Busch. “We want to be known for our quality-driven projects, our work ethic, and our authentic people.”
Drawing Dept is located at 3217 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45209. For more information, call 513.272.8099 or visit drawingdept.com.