Design for Innovation


Interview with Todd Boyer

The history of The Jack is a long one, dating back to the 1900s. It was home to a number of companies, including its namesake, The Columbus Jack, a hydraulic lift factory. Once they relocated, the building was left vacant for years. That’s where this story starts. 

“Okay, Todd, what about this building made you want to work on it?” I asked. “Or what about it made you want to run the other direction but stuck around anyway?”

“That’s a loaded question,” he said. “It’s just because I was the last one left standing.” 

The vacancy of this building was, in part, due to the lost time previous designers spent trying to find a design to fit the needs of the building. “It started out a collaborative project. There were eight of us when we started and then… it was recession city. That was the time it was the last man standing competition because we all had so much work,” Todd explained.

“So this really is your building?”

“Yes,” he very quickly said.

“What was the biggest challenge?” I asked him.

“Personalities… like a Mr. Hawk and a Mr. Weaver meshed with a tight budget,” he said. “It was like doing your mom’s kitchen with her in your ear telling you what’s wrong.” He explained the budget and the developer and all the intricacies involved with this project compared to others. It was a balancing act in deciding what would fit every need. The money spent on the project belonged to the developer who also had a say in the design. Everything… every fixture, every light, had to fall under that cost. “Knowing that this would be our office meant that it was going to be a balance between my aesthetic desires that fit in the budget and those big personalities.”

I asked Todd how he thought The Jack fit into the overall work of WSA Studio. He admitted that his response would be biased but that it’s the best example of adaptive reuse in our portfolio. It’s the best example of being the architect who solves the problem by working with and appreciating the building for what it has to offer and not fighting it.

In a lull moment in our conversation, I caught Todd looking around the kitchen/conference room area. “Well, do you love it?” I asked. He laughed and repeated that back to me the way his daughter, Rosie, would and then told me he does. “It’s fun and the small things I used to stress over, I don’t notice as much anymore. That’s a thing you learn teaching these other guys; we notice things other people don’t. And you don’t normally have to hear how cold the people are in your building,” he laughed. “The way we’re set up here really works for us. It’s business in the front with the party in the back. It’s just what we’re good at.”

“So, you’re saying this building is a mullet?” 

“Yep. Yes, it is. And it stands the test of time just like a mullet.”

2010 Pop Culture Facts

“Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? I could really use a wish right now.” Yes, “Airplanes” by B.O.B. was released and it was clearly poetic. Speaking of poetry, “Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife” was a very popular line to quote. Here are the other happenings in 2010: The Social Network and Alice in Wonderland were both the latest at the cinema and people everywhere were thinking they wanted a friend like the hatter because he would make you not the craziest person in the room. The first iPad and Instagram were also released and everyone who was anyone was grammin’. Mark Zuckerberg was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. And, I know this is hard to imagine now, but Oprah’s last episode aired. But where did people go for advice after Oprah though?! Oh, right. Instagram.