Design for Innovation


Interview with Tom Schnell

I sat down with Tom Schnell to talk to him about Fallen Timbers, our featured project for 1971.

"Fallen Timbers was done for a developer in Toledo. He was a friend of my father's and he worked out a deal with a hospital to lease land adjacent to it for one dollar for 100 years. He developed a doctor's office and asked us to design it. The original idea was one floor with 20 doctors. The hospital came along as they said they needed 40 doctors and twice as much square footage. Instead of building two stories, we put a basement in which really freaked out the bankers. We had the original courtyard and we built a two story atrium with a skylight and put plants and trees in there. I was up there years ago and it hasn't changed very much, but the trees are up to the ceilings.

I asked Tom how this project impacted future projects and he asked "for us or for them? Because for us, this was the biggest building we had ever done." It was the first time they used a steel frame building with a metal stud exterior wall and it was the first introduction to the legal realm within the firm. During excavation, a wall nearly caved in and sent them into the courtroom. He said "I got a call Friday afternoon. It freaked me out! I went up there the next day and, sure enough, the wall was all bowed in. By Monday, they jacked up the beam and the wall popped back into place. It was a little scary, but we got through it." After two years in litigation, everything was settled.

Tom is humble. After telling me the successes of this project and learning the legal side of things, he said "The plants in the atrium are growing great and the skylights don't even leak...after this many years." He laughed when he said it like it's always a surprise to be able to say.

1971 Pop Culture Facts

Calling all hipsters, you have 1971 to thank for your lifestyle. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle and NPR was first broadcasted. John Lennon’s “Imagine” was released and caused a storm. If you were watching TV in 1971, you’d probably see “All in the Family” episodes because it premiered with the first ever toilet flushing scene on television. You wouldn’t see any cigarette ads though. Amtrak began operating and Walt Disney World came to Orlando, so you could finally grab a coffee and head to see Mickey on the train. Dreamy.