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Edward Tucker Architects

Architectural firm planning bright future in West Virginia

Edward Tucker ArchitectsA company with roots in Huntington going back more than a century is well-positioned for another 100 years in business. Edward Tucker Architects is an architectural design firm with 8 employees who focus primarily on planning commercial buildings. Edward Tucker bought the company, formerly known as Dean and Dean Architects, in 1996. It was a chance for Tucker to come home after being away from the area for several years. Most of the people he’s hired in the years since also have ties to the region.

“I’ve been able to identify people who want to be here and want to do work that’s meaningful and rewarding in terms of being an architect,” he said. “People tend to stick around in my company and start their families here. The trick is to find folks that already have some interest in the area and then cultivating their talent and giving them the opportunities to grow and develop professionally.“

Tucker says his experience around the country gives him a good perspective when it comes to his West Virginia workforce.

“I’ve served on a national board and been in different parts of the country, and we have nothing to apologize for when it comes to our people and their work ethic and educational backgrounds. Certainly in the architectural and the design world, I would compare us with anybody else in the country.”

Since West Virginia does not have a school of architecture, all of the state’s 120 licensed architects have gone elsewhere to college. But Tucker says it’s an easy sell to get people to come back home.

“I push the quality of life in Huntington and the surrounding community and the fact that most nights you get in the car and drive home. You’re not flying all the time,” he says. “I look at Huntington as the ideal place to live. I’m less than two miles from my house. My wife is a teacher and walks two blocks to school. That’s almost unheard of. Nobody has more than a mile to walk or to drive to get to a park. The quality of life that West Virginia has to offer is superior in many ways to other areas. We bemoan the fact that maybe there isn’t more growth, but we don’t have the problems that come with growth that’s been too fast.”

Tucker says those problems are evident in many major metropolitan areas around the country, and many urban planners are striving to make communities more like those found in West Virginia.

“Whether it’s a neighborhood or retail or entertainment kind of development, they’re trying to copy a lot of the same principles, the traditional neighborhood development, that we put in place,” he says. “We just need to rediscover it and appreciate it and love it a little more. That’s my biggest spiel in terms of quality of life and living in a city the size that we have, the university is here and the kinds of cultural events that it brings, makes Huntington a little more special. In most areas you have to go to a bigger city to have some of those same amenities.”

West Virginia’s economic stability has certainly helped Tucker’s company stay on track for success.

“The recession hasn’t affected us nearly as badly as the majority of design firms across the country. I saw a statistic that showed a 20% reduction in total workforce of architecture firms since 2007. That’s a huge hit. Yet, here, did we experience a drop off? Yes, but we’ve not had to lay anybody off, we haven’t had any furloughs, no pay reductions. We’re able to carry on. Our public clients have still had funding. We haven’t been in an upheaval because our state budget is in a better way.”

The firm’s architects are working on the designs for Marshall University’s new pharmacy school. They’re teaming with a firm in Connecticut that has previous experience in planning pharmacy schools. Tucker says in the past, this is the type of project that would have been developed entirely by an out-of-state firm.

“What I tell a lot of our clients is that all things being equal, we hope that you hire a firm in West Virginia, recognizing that it’s good for business,” he says. “What we try to do as a firm is make sure that we are an equal. To every extent we can, we do things the way or as well as the firm in Columbus or Pittsburgh . We don’t try to say that maybe we’re not them or we’re not as good. There’s no reason why we can’t be on par in terms of our education and skill sets.”

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