Jim Mitchell

by Jim Mitchell

Principal, Executive Vice President, Director - Civic/Community Studio

Igniting a Passion for Civic Architecture

  • OCTOBER 07, 2015
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2015 Vision Week Logo - CenteredIt's Vision Week again, here at M+A, and we're in full swing of participating in team building events, professional development sessions and reflecting on our mission and values as a company. All of this is done because we realize that we are of better service to our clients if we trust our coworkers, are happy in our work environment, understand our company values and never stop learning.

In the spirit of sharing a tidbit of firm history for Vision Week, I share my experience of how I got to be passionate about civic architecture - fire stations, township administrative buildings, city halls, etc. As M+A's resident historian, (I've worked here for 34 of M+A's 35 years as a company) it's not only my first public project but M+A's as well.

Village of Sunbury Municipal Building Village of Sunbury Municipal Building

The project was a new municipal building for the Village of Sunbury, Ohio, constructed in 1982. This was prior to the rapid growth of Delaware County, but some of the village administrators were anticipating that Sunbury and the surrounding area would soon take off in growth and population. They were correct! The village population has grown from 1,500 to present day 4,720.

The existing municipal facility was too small and antiquated and no longer met the needs of village officials. It was important that a new facility house a council meeting room, village administrative offices, and the village police department with room to grow. The budget for this project was rather tight, even for 1982 with only $200,000 available. It was also the town's desire that this building (on the corner of Granville Street and Columbus Street, across from the Village Green) would serve as a catalyst for improvements around the square. This too has been accomplished over the past 33 years.

Now for some fun facts. I know I am going to sound like your grandparents who recall bread costing $0.19 a loaf and milk $0.39  a gallon, but here goes:

- This 6,150 SF building was constructed for $188,383 with prevailing rates at the time. This works out to $30.63/SF! Today, you can't build a carport at that cost!
- Our architectural fees were based around 8% of construction cost at that time. This would equate to fees of about $15,000, which would include our structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and civil engineering consultants! Today, that fee would only pay for a small study or demolition project.
- Bob Apel, one of our founders, constructed an architectural model of the building which I used to help me prepare the construction documents for the project. No one had ever heard of Building Information Modeling or Revit back then.

Architectural Model of Village of Sunbury Municipal Building Architectural Model of Village of Sunbury Municipal Building

When I attended the dedication ceremony for the building and saw how proud the community was of their new public facility, this hooked me for life on civic work! They spoke of how the building truly met their needs, how it really fit the look and feel of their village and how it would serve the community for years to come. Ever since, I have been passionate about helping community governments serve their citizens with great spaces and facilities. Since then, I've worked with more than 25 different cities, villages, townships and counties on more than 100 projects for their communities.

Happy 9th Vision Week M+A Architects!

Jim Mitchell

by Jim Mitchell

Principal, Executive Vice President, Director - Civic/Community Studio

Jim has been with M+A since 1981 and currently serves as the executive vice president of the company. Jim's favorite place to eat is Polaris Grille, and his favorite movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.