After graduating from the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State, Pat Pasterick ’83 teamed up with Ron Dick ’82, to form a collaborative team that ultimately turned into a successful multi-faceted design and engineering firm named Design Collaborative.
Surprisingly, as students, they lived in the same residence hall, ate at the same locations, and conceivably crossed paths in the architecture building. Still, entering Ball State a year apart, put them on parallel tracks and in separate cohorts so they never officially met on campus.
By 1982, Pat was starting an internship at MSKTD, an architectural firm in Ft. Wayne, Ron, had finished his internship in San Diego. Ron then returned to Indiana and also joined the MSKTD firm in Ft. Wayne, but after Pat had gone back to school in Muncie. As fate would have it, the duo finally met in 1983, when Pat returned to MSKTD as an employee after graduation, as Ron describes, “after that, we became fast friends, compatriots, colleagues, etc.”
The freshly minted architects recognized the value of working together to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Ron saw everything through a design lens; he envisioned what could be, while Pat had a mind trained on technical aspects and focused on how to get things done. Around that time, the pair met and began working with Terry Wagner, a mechanical engineer. This encounter completed the trifecta for a successful partnership. Terry was from Fort Wayne but graduated from Iowa State. The three began working on projects together at the firm” in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
The Creation of Design Collaborative
After working together for almost ten years on many projects of varying sizes and complexities, their bonds of friendship and shared experiences grew exponentially as their respect for each other’s professional strengths and collaborative skills solidified. By 1992, the confluence in their dynamic personalities and complementary skills leads Ron, Pat, and Terry to start their firm, Design Collaborative. From the beginning, their focus has always been on improving people’s worlds through collaborative design. True to their predicted strengths, Terry followed engineering, Pat manages the majority of the firm’s business aspects, and Ron is the Director of Design. The fellow alums, Pat and Ron, believe that teamwork is essential for any firm and in all parts of life. They all work together, sharing responsibilities and efforts in making Design Collaborative the success that it is today.
Reflecting upon their lifetime partnership, Pat states, “one of the great things about our relationship is we are very different but extremely complementary in terms of skill sets, interests and aptitudes. This combination was advantageous as we grew in skills and responsibilities to be able to use each other as a resource and a second opinion as we developed and handled projects. That became even more important and valuable as we started our firm. Our complimentary styles, skills, and experiences helped make us strong as a firm.”
Today, some 28 years later, the successful Architecture/Engineering (A/E) firm is nationally recognized, continues to stay engaged in the local community, and sponsors internship opportunities for the next generation of professionals. The firm began with three founding partners and has grown into a multi-disciplinary A/E firm of 70 people in architecture, engineering, interior design, business development, and information technology. Their underlying mission is to improve the world by creating beautiful, functional, and well-designed places, completing projects in locations all across the eastern United States.
The core values of this firm are evidenced recently by their resilient response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm has been almost 100% remote, with only a handful of personnel in the office safely distancing. The firm’s structure is three design studios, a business development studio, and a “mission control” administration studio with all studio leaders and associates maintaining communication and collaboration using Microsoft Teams. Overall the firm is in a strong position to maintain its quality of service, collaboration, and project load.
As Ron obverses, “from a design perspective, as Director of Design, I am extremely encouraged by the efforts being made to maintain a high level of quality and service to our projects and clients. Online charrettes are interesting but have been successful so far. For the old guard (like me), there’s still no clear substitute yet for being around the table with a roll of trash paper, but we are discovering and using existing technology tools to new advantage. We are hopeful the things we are learning, and the habits we are strengthening will serve us well as the crisis abates.”
Ever focused on planning and details, Pat reflects on how well their firm transitioned to remote collaboration and design. Five years ago, the firm decided to make improvements and investments in anticipation of a business disruption. With COVID-19 reaching a global pandemic scale, the firm has fully transitioned to a new way of working with excellent outcomes. “I don’t think architecture will go back to where we were prior to this. And rightly so, I think this will have a huge impact on how we do business and fundamentally for the better.”