Do Small Firms Have a Greater Design Impact than Large Firms? Architects Lionel Morrison and Mark Dilworth Think they Can.
Lionel Morrison, FAIA
Mark Dilworth, AIA
Mark Dilworth was the design director and CEO of Omniplan created by E.G. Hamilton , famous for designing the original NorthPark Center. Under the leadership of Mark Dilworth, Omniplan designed the internationally acclaimed expanded NorthPark Center.
Some Partners in Large Architectural Firms Dream
of Creating Small Firms
While some architects create small firms with the dream of building a large firm, Lionel Morrison and Mark Dilworth ran large firms and dreamed of creating a small firm with a high design impact. As young architects, Lionel Morrison and Mark Dilworth started with drawing boards next to each other in the E.G. Hamilton studio at Omniplan. While they were both proud of their accomplishments and the projects designed, they became excited about putting their drawing boards next to each other once again in a small studio. To allow their passion for design, Cari Walls, whose career was also at Omniplan joined Lionel Morrison and Mark Dilworth to manage the business side of their new firm, Morrison Dilworth + Walls and MDW Studio.
Potential Architecture Projects for MDW Studio
Potential projects include architectural work in Beijing. Some developers seek the specific talents of architects like Lionel Morrison whose experience is in residential, office and some mixed-use retail, and architects like Mark Dilworth whose experience includes modern office buildings and designing the most successful shopping center in the country. MDW Studio clients enjoy dealing directly with Morrison and Dilworth and the talented architects of the firm who will personally be designing the projects at Morrison Dilworth + Walls.
Lionel Morrison Continues to Design Modern Homes
Lionel Morrison continues to design elegant modern residences. In Northern Heights, Lionel Morrison designed a modern home just a few blocks away from the first modern home he designed over two decades ago.
Many of the great modern houses in Dallas have been designed by internationally famous architects like Philip Johnson or Edward Larabee Barnes or Frank Lloyd Wright, who had originally come to Dallas to design office buildings or museums. In Dallas, Lionel Morrison, FAIA, is designing office and retail buildings around the country and continues to design architecturally significant homes in Dallas.
A Bad Economy Creates the Best Architecture
This was the title of a blog article three years ago, Bad Times, Best Architecture, explaining why many of the best architectural projects come during a bad economy. Here is another example, not discussed in the article, where economic turmoil, uncertainty, and a bad economy force firms to decide whether they are going to plow along and do any kind of work to keep architects busy or to concentrate and spend more time on the best architectural projects. In the case of Lionel Morrsion, Mark Dilworrth and Cari Walls, they left profitable firms as they determined an uncertain economy is the perfect environment to emphasize design and high quality projects that demand extraordinary talent, uninterrupted by the trial and tribulation of a large firm in a sluggish economy.
Large Architectural Firms Have the Potential to be Technological and Structural Innovators or Just Labor Pools for Small Design-Intensive Firms
Some large architectural firms like Skidmore, Owings & Merrill dedicate a great amount of resources for research and development. This enables them to create, design and build structures that previously could not be imagined. Some large firms are so burdened by bureaucracy and preoccupation with deal flow, to keep their architects busy, that design becomes secondary. Nevertheless, these large firms can join projects with small firms, as they have talented and competent architects who are delighted to work alongside or under the direction of a small design firm, creating the volumes of drawings and specs that a substantial project requires.
Great Projects are Coming Out of the Ground
In the last three years, architects have had the time to design great projects. Now the economy and the mood of the country is to push forward and build those projects. While there has been much hand wringing and consternation in the architectural community, the reevaluating of priorities, the reimagining of firms and architectural practices has created an incredible platform for future creativity and good works.
See Architecturally Significant Modern Homes on Facebook for more photographs on modern homes designed by architect Lionel Morrison, FAIA.