Launch Slideshow

Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

word on the street, redux

last year's "lowdown on the downturn" firms revisited.

word on the street, redux

last year's "lowdown on the downturn" firms revisited.

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Reader & Swartz Architects

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Reader & Swartz Architects

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Diversion Lake Camp, Medina, Texas, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Diversion Lake Camp, Medina, Texas, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Michael G. Imber Architects

    Diversion Lake Camp, Medina, Texas, by Michael G. Imber Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Turnberry Way Library, San Antonio, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Turnberry Way Library, San Antonio, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Michael G. Imber Architects

    Turnberry Way Library, San Antonio, by Michael G. Imber Architects
  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Vermont Cabin, Jamaica, Vt., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Vermont Cabin, Jamaica, Vt., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Resolution: 4 Architecture

    Vermont Cabin, Jamaica, Vt., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Long Beach Cottage, Long Beach, N.Y., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Long Beach Cottage, Long Beach, N.Y., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Resolution: 4 Architecture

    Long Beach Cottage, Long Beach, N.Y., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Barboro Flats, Memphis, Tenn., by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Barboro Flats, Memphis, Tenn., by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    Barboro Flats, Memphis, Tenn., by Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Lugar Tower Apartments, Indianapolis, by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Lugar Tower Apartments, Indianapolis, by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    Lugar Tower Apartments, Indianapolis, by Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Private Residence, Grand Rapids, Mich., by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Private Residence, Grand Rapids, Mich., by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Albertsson Hansen Architecture

    Private Residence, Grand Rapids, Mich., by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Guest Cabin, Michigan, by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Guest Cabin, Michigan, by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Albertsson Hansen Architecture

    Guest Cabin, Michigan, by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    UC Davis West Village Square Mixed-Use, Davis, Calif., by Studio E Architects

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    UC Davis West Village Square Mixed-Use, Davis, Calif., by Studio E Architects

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    Studio E Architects

    UC Davis West Village Square Mixed-Use, Davis, Calif., by Studio E Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    90 Archer Affordable Housing, San Jose, Calif, by Studio E Architects

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    90 Archer Affordable Housing, San Jose, Calif, by Studio E Architects

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    Studio E Architects

    90 Archer Affordable Housing, San Jose, Calif., by Studio E Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    South Lincoln/10th and Osage Redevelopment, Denver, by Mithun

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    South Lincoln/10th and Osage Redevelopment, Denver, by Mithun

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    Mithun

    South Lincoln/10th and Osage Redevelopment, Denver, by Mithun

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Cabaña at Roanti Orchards and Vineyards, Glen Ellen, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Cabaña at Roanti Orchards and Vineyards, Glen Ellen, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Edward Caldwell Photography

    Cabaña at Roanti Orchards and Vineyards, Glen Ellen, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Arkin Tilt Architects

    Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    South Gilpin Townhomes, Denver, by Sprocket Design-Build

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    South Gilpin Townhomes, Denver, by Sprocket Design-Build

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    Portal Imageworks

    South Gilpin Townhomes, Denver, by Sprocket Design-Build

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Single-Family Residence, Chicago

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    Single-Family Residence, Chicago

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    Studio Dwell Architects

    Single-Family Residence, Chicago, by Studio Dwell Architects

Chuck Swartz, AIA, LEED AP, and Beth Reader, AIA, principals of Reader and Swartz Architects

Chuck Swartz, AIA, LEED AP, and Beth Reader, AIA, principals of Reader and Swartz Architects

Credit: Reader & Swartz Architects

chuck swartz, aia, leed ap, and beth reader, aia 
reader & swartz architects, winchester, va.

www.readerswartz.com

age of firm: 20 years
firm specialty: Single-family residential and small-scale commercial
staff: 7 (2005); 7 (2008); 7 (2009); 7 (2010, projected)
total revenue: $712,000 (2005); $875,000 to $900,000 (2008); $808,000 (2009); $700,000 (2010, projected)
completed projects: 9 (2005); 9 (2008); 9 (2009); 8 (2010, projected)

Reader & Swartz was one of the lucky ones last year: Only one project was lost, and 2009 revenues were $100,000 higher than projected. While co-principals Beth Reader, AIA, and Chuck Swartz, AIA, LEED AP, often liken their role to that of a small-town doctor who keeps busy by doing a bit of everything, Swartz adds another identity: “We’re more like farmers. All our clients decided to build at the same time, so we had a busy fall.” Yet design is near the top of the food chain, and with the phones uncharacteristically quiet last summer, the couple thought they might run out of work by December. That didn’t happen. Design work picked up, and now builders are pressuring them to get drawings done so they can start construction immediately.

“It’s not manic anymore, but we’re still working nights and weekends,” Swartz says. What’s keeping them occupied? New homes, additions, and renovations ranging in budget from $200,000 to $1 million. “Our projects, on average, are smaller now,” Reader notes. The firm is also working with the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum—the project that was halted last year when funding evaporated—to reduce its scope or create phases for completion as the budget allows.

As it has for many architects, the downturn has sharpened their way of working. “In the last year we’ve served our clients better, because we worked more on lighting and interiors rather than subbing them out, and we were more satisfied with the results,” Reader says. “We made our projects better and expanded our skill sets.”