Porter reopens architectural firmWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Architect Thomas Porter recently reopened his firm, Thomas Porter Architects, on North St. Clair Street in Downtown Toledo.
Porter said he went back into business “to create opportunities for young associates with a business structure that allows them to become partners in the firm. This model helps in retaining young, talented and creative designers, while providing our clients with the stability found in long established firms.”
Porter previously operated a business of the same name from 1981 to 1992. He was a principal at Duket Porter Associates in Toledo from 1992 until re-establishing his firm. He also served as assistant university architect at BGSU and architect with E. James Smith Architects, Inc.
Michael Duket is continuing his business as Duket Architects & Planners at its location on North Summit Street in Downtown Toledo.
Porter’s firm is renovating the historic buildings known as Lutz Block, built in 1876, for its home and additional commercial space. The three-story brick structures previously housed the former H. Poll Electric Company and numerous other businesses.
The associates of Thomas Porter Architects purchased the four-unit complex and plan to create a mixed-use environment. The property also includes 28 parking spaces, which are a valuable commodity Downtown, Porter said.
Historic restorations and renovations have been a big part of Porter’s experience and will continue with his firm, he said. It recently completed an “emergency renovation project” involving the interior at the DeVilbiss Academic and Technology Center for Toledo Public Schools. The interior of the former high school was renovated to house students from Scott High School for two years, while that school undergoes extensive renovations.
Porter said his firm was contracted by TPS in June and given one week for the design and two weeks to prepare documents for the renovation contractor, Rudolph|Libbe, Inc. The $1 million projected was completed for occupation by students this fall.
Porter was the lead architect for the exterior renovation of Union Elementary School in Maumee when at Duket Porter Associates. Constructed shortly after the Civil War, it is the oldest active elementary school in the state, according to Porter.
The associates of Porter’s firm have completed assessments for hundreds of schools in 60 districts funded by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission. Renovation of school facilities usually costs two-thirds of building new facilities, Porter said.
Porter and his associates were involved in the facility assessment and historic renovation of the national landmark Libbey House located across from the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion. Built in 1895 as the home for glass industry pioneer Edward Drummond Libbey, it was purchased in 2006 by the Libbey House Foundation.
Porter’s associate Steve Shrake was the lead architect for the restoration of historic Church of St. Patrick in Toledo that was completed in 2006 by Duket Porter Associates.
Shrake was a manager and project architect at Duket Porter from 2002 to 2009. He previously served as a project architect at SSOE, Inc.
Porter’s associates worked on the restoration of the Casey-Pomeroy House Bed & Breakfast on North Huron Street in Toledo.
Stuart Cline Jr., an associate and project manager at Thomas Porter Architects, started the project with his partner, Sue Burkett, who operates the bed and breakfast business. Cline managed numerous projects at Duket Porter with his engineering background.
While historic and school renovations, commercial, industrial and retail design work are the current focus, Porter sees opportunities in other markets.
“With 70 percent of our staff being LEED accredited, we are well-positioned for optimistic growth potential in new emerging markets,” Porter said.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1998. It provides design standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
Porter said his firm is reusing and recycling as much of the materials from the renovation of their old buildings as possible.
Seven of the nine associates at Porter’s firm were employed at the former Duket Porter Associates. Julie Apt and Bernie Merritt are graduate architects and designers. Todd Fodor is a project designer and Ronda Fejes serves as administrative assistant. Bonnie Danford, an interior designer and space planner, recently joined Porter’s firm.
“There’s a real commitment and loyalty to the people here,” said Mike Robarge, director of business development and marketing, who joined the firm after 27 years with The Lathrop Company. “A lot of good people are looking for opportunities like this.”