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Sunday, 11 October 2015 20:59

Q&A: Greg Metz, Lott3Metz Architecture LLC

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Aside from his work as a principal at Lott3Metz Architecture LLC in Grand Rapids, Greg Metz has dedicated considerable time over the years working to promote the architecture industry on a regional and statewide basis. His peers appear to have taken notice: The American Institute of Architects Grand Rapids will present Metz with its highest honor, the President’s Award, at a special gala on Oct. 15. The award, which has not been handed out since 2008, is presented to an architect “who has contributed to the profession through service to the AIA Grand Rapids Chapter.” Metz discussed his efforts to raise the profile of the architecture profession, as well as his desire to see more architects get involved in urban planning, over beers at a neighborhood tavern he had a role in designing.

What does this award mean to you professionally?

It’s good to be recognized by your peers and to validate that the hard work that you do as an individual is recognized and respected. I do appreciate that.

What do you think led your peers to want to recognize you?

I worked really hard to try and elevate our status as an organization so that it wasn’t just about architects. I try to get more people to understand who we are, what we are. I wanted architects to understand that there is more out there than just us — it’s a two-way street. I think a lot of people appreciated that, really. I think some of the events I arranged with the industrial design community, that was really cool. (It) got people excited.

What was the goal of bringing together the architecture and design communities in West Michigan?

For me, it’s all about raising awareness of architects. I feel like as a profession, we don’t have the respect we did 20 or 30 years ago, so I’m trying to raise the awareness. Part of raising the awareness of who we are is getting architects to realize who they are. To get out there and say, ‘Hey, here we are. Here is what we do and here is why we are important.’

How do you go about doing that?

I don’t know if this is because I graduated from the University of Detroit and they instilled it in me, but I feel it’s important to be involved. And I think that one thing architects don’t do a good enough job of is getting involved. You look at neighborhood associations, community boards, city boards: We, as a profession, can have a profound impact on that because we have the knowledge. It’s not just about the building itself.

Why are these appropriate roles for architects to play?

We know how communities operate better than most people because that’s what we are educated in, that’s what we do. … And we understand people in the community better than most. My involvement in AIA is to try to get architects to recognize that — try to step up and step out and realize you don’t only need to be part of your profession. There are other things out there in our profession that can feed into and have a bigger impact. And frankly, I think townships and cities would like to see architects have more involvement because we do bring a lot to the table and they enjoy that knowledge and that education.

Are there some specific areas architects can get involved?

I would like to see more architects involved in (Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.), GR Forward, the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition — any kind of rapid transit issues. There’s a lot of community boards and I think we need a lot more architects on. All these organizations would really appreciate that. Every neighborhood association should have an architect on its board.

Why was the President’s Award not handed out from 2009 through 2014?

I know there are architects out there that should have a shot at that award. On the other hand, it makes you realize that it’s not an easy thing to get. That’s good, and it makes me feel proud that I got it. I am happy about it. I think it’s a big award. I’m passionate about being an architect and I’m proud that my peers feel the same way. They feel I’m a damn good architect.

What would you consider the most interesting — or fun — project you’ve worked on in your career?

I tend to try and find something fun on every project I work on. That’s the God’s honest truth. There’s something thrilling in everything we do. But I like the work we did on The Meanwhile (a neighborhood bar in Grand Rapids where this interview was conducted). It’s about the people, it’s about the neighborhood. … It fits like a good glove, so this is one I like. I like coming here, obviously. Meijer Corporate Headquarters (was fun).

Of all your projects, why does a relatively small design job like The Meanwhile stand out?

The Meanwhile was fun because it was about working with friends, working with the neighborhood, just putting our all into it. It was a truly collaborative effort. I think we nailed it.

Interview conducted and condensed by Nick Manes. MiBiz File Photo: Katy Batdorff

Read 2337 times Last modified on Monday, 12 October 2015 12:37

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