General, Inspiration /

For the Love of Craft: A Trip Through the Legacy of George Nakashima


New York City, 7:00 AM, the 2-hour road trip ahead of us would allow plenty of time to soak in the gradual transition from the Manhattan skyline to the rural landscape of eastern Pennsylvania. Watching the sun climb behind our white Suburban (which had become our mobile office for the day) we exited the Lincoln Tunnel and turned our conversation and thoughts to what lay ahead; the town of New Hope and home of woodworker, George Nakashima.

Everyone can remember the first time they heard about the work of George Nakashima. For some, this is in the trenches of design school, for others it is through curious self-initiated investigation, and for many this introduction is given in moments of serendipity over a dinner table or chance encounter with one of Mr. Nakashima’s wooden masterpieces. For almost everyone though, the name “George Nakashima” brings to mind a remarkable design heritage and a seemingly endless wealth of timeless inspiration. For the nine of us in our fully loaded SUV, a rare opportunity for a private tour of the Nakashima Foundation was a long-awaited adventure.


General, Inspiration /

3 Pieces of Advice for Future Conference Attendees

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I can’t express enough the wealth of knowledge that the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference provides. I’d like to give a shout out to UMSL Business for putting on such a rich learning experience, and give a thank you to Spectrum Reach, the conference sponsor. If you haven’t already, take a look at my latest post, “Top Takeaways from the 2017 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference,” which outline the key pieces of knowledge I learned from the 2017 conference. Thinking of attending next year? Here is my first-timer advice:


General, Inspiration /

Lawrence Group People

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Each month we are highlighting three of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list. We are hoping this gives you a glimpse into the people of Lawrence Group.


General, Inspiration /

Top Takeaways from the 2017 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference


The 2017 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference marked UMSL’s third year hosting the event and my first year in attendance. I learned a lot about what it is like to attend a large conference like this and a lot about the changing digital marketing landscape. Here are some of the key insights I took away from the conference.

  1. Digital marketing should be about making connections, not just making contact.

This one may seem obvious, but it never hurts to have a reminder. The key to a successful social media presence is making meaningful connections with your audience, not just spewing information at them that you perceive to be relevant. It’s better to stop and understand what your audience really wants to see and respond to, rather than playing a guessing game. Two pieces of advice to keep in mind to help you stay on track and build connections are (1) say it, don’t spray it and, (2) when it comes to content, place value on quality over quantity.

(Inspired by Phil Cara of Buzzfeed)


General, Inspiration /

5 Social Media Best Practices for the AEC Industry


The social media scene is ever evolving. New platforms are popping up rapidly, while others are becoming obsolete. With so many channels to choose from, learn about and keep up with, social media strategy has the potential to be a real headache for digital marketers in the AEC industry, an industry changing almost as rapidly as the tools with which we market those services. Here are five best practices I think can help you make the most of your firm’s time spent on social media marketing.


General, Inspiration /

3 Powerful Presentations from 2016


As another new year is almost upon us, I’m reminded of three powerful presentations that I was fortunate to attend in 2016 with lessons to carry forward into 2017.

The national SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services) and CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) conferences always have high caliber keynote speakers, and 2016 was no exception with Ben Casnocha and Amy Cuddy. Then at its local signature event in November, CREW St. Louis brought in national speaker AmyK. All three were dynamic, had great stories to tell and gave key takeaways to help others in their career development.


Inspiration /

What Inspires You?


Inspiration is everywhere; you just have to find it from the words of your favorite poet to the leaves of a beautiful fall day that might drive your imagination to another world. As a designer, I translate my inspirations to concepts that lead a design of a space. What inspires me you might ask? Nature plays a huge role in my inspiration. A hike to the mountains opens my imagination to a whole new level. The beauty of how each rock is formed and the breeze that comes through any lookout just instantly creates an idea in my head for what might become a ceiling design, a floor pattern, or even a feature wall design.


General, Inspiration /

A Mid-Century Modern Childhood


When Lawrence Group moved from Lafayette Square to downtown St. Louis in 1992, my mother, Martha Ohlemeyer, presented me with a painting of the Old Courthouse that still hangs on the wall in my office. She painted it over the course of a few days (which still blows my mind), thinking it important that our new office have some artwork representative of downtown.  She did it as an homage to one of her favorites, Fred Conway, who she studied under at Washington University in the 1940’s. Look him up and you’ll see the inspiration. She credits him in the upper right corner. It was he who steered her to fine art rather than commercial art. Always practical, her idea had been to be a magazine illustrator. He convinced her otherwise. She enjoyed a prolific career of painting and sculpting in multiple media, teaching, showing and occasionally selling. Selling her work was never a goal, though it was certainly nice when it happened. Her art was just what she did. She never bragged about her talent, but was very comfortable knowing she had it. She worked hard at it and enjoyed it and, in the process, inadvertently made my childhood mid-century modern.

A lot of my school breaks as a kid were spent hanging out with mom and her art friends either at the Artist’s Guild when it was next door to Soldan High School, at one of her friend’s homes or maybe even accompanying them on a plein air outing. I had no idea of the culture rich environment I was immersed in, I was just enjoying it for what it was and soaking it in unawares. If I didn’t have my own coloring books or modeling clay, they’d give me scraps of ‘the real stuff’ to play with. Among her friends was Ruth Schweiss, an art school classmate who had gone on to study at Cranbrook under Carl Milles (sculptor for the fountains in front of Union Station and the Climatron). She created the ballerina sculptures in front of the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton. The Schweiss family lived in a house designed by Bernoudy-Mutrux. As a kid, I remember always liking the house because it had lots of cubbies, nooks and crannies and windows that were somehow different than anything I had seen anywhere else. I had no idea I was moving about a mid-century modern classic work of art. It was just a fun place to play.


Architecture, Inspiration, Projects /

Security Building Mural


It has been nearly 15 years since Lawrence Group acquired the Security Building in downtown St. Louis and renovated it as our corporate headquarters. Being a native St. Louisan (and one to never turn down the opportunity to hear a good story), I’ve enjoyed learning about the role the Security Building played in St. Louis history. Some of the stories are verifiable, but some of the best ones are not:  Charles Lindbergh signed the financing deal for his historic transatlantic flight in the bar of the Noonday Club on the tenth floor (or did he?); the Security Building actually bests the Wainwright Building as being the first steel frame high rise in St. Louis (or are the dates on the Security Building construction drawings somehow misleading?).


Inspiration, Interior Design /

Design Competition? I’m In!


As designers, competition is a priority. You can say it’s our way of showing off and sharing our creativity with the rest of the world. It is absolutely fascinating seeing what the restrictions, challenges and guidelines of each competition lead us to create.

Once we get together, nothing can stop us from coming up with a unique idea that breaks “the rule.” I recently entered two design competition with several of my colleagues at Lawrence Group including; Dean Sutton, Jerod Thornton, Terry McCoy, Theresa Sahrmann, and Kevin Le.

The first competition was the 2015 eVolo Furniture Design Competition. Designers were given multiple categories to choose from. In each category teams were tasked to build a furniture piece that would transform the way we live and interact with our environment. As a team we chose “planes” as our category and used it to create “Pop-Up Adventure.” Pop-Up Adventure is a versatile space that transforms into a living room, dining room, or bedroom by simply folding out the furniture from the surrounding corresponding walls, floor and ceiling…similar to a children’s pop-Up book. Furniture is made of thin planes of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber has been selected for its high strength to- weight ratio.