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From left: Joel Thomas, Ryan Faust and Christophe Bouteille
Cynthia Reeves | SBJ
From left: Joel Thomas, Ryan Faust and Christophe Bouteille

2022 Economic Impact Awards 1-7 Years in Business Finalist: Buf Architecture Studio LLC

Forward Charge

Posted online

On its company website, Buf Architecture Studio LLC lists three core values – one of them: “Be a buffalo.”

According to Buf Studio officials, in a storm on the North American plains, cattle could be seen running away, while a buffalo would turn to face it head on. For Buf, this equates to the architectural team facing challenges and complexities of a project when they’re first identified.

There are two other values: “No bad days,” meaning a resilient team should work together to solve problems every single day, and “How you do anything is how you do everything,” a reminder that all work that comprises a project is important.

Principal Joel Thomas describes a challenging entry to the Springfield market, with the onset of the global pandemic coinciding with the firm’s first quarter in its original Bentonville, Arkansas, office. The company’s partners were members of another Bentonville firm, which they amicably parted through a contractual system that allowed them to complete 30 existing projects while establishing their firm.

In March 2020, Buf Studio opened its doors in a Springfield office – a familiar place for Thomas, who had graduated from Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture. The fresh start brought new projects, like the Heritage Apartments, now going up at the site of the former Heritage Cafeteria at Fremont Avenue and Battlefield Road, as well as new hires.

Buf doesn’t promote a particular style, Thomas says.

“I want to be a generalist,” he says. “I’ve always kept an open mind about designing for each specific client, area, need or purpose. I want to provide a good product for my client, and it doesn’t have to be my design aesthetic – it should be something that they enjoy that works for them.”

Thomas says the architectural profession has been dealing with issues related to growth and the pressures of meeting clients’ scheduling needs. Like the buffalo, his company has faced forward to meet the challenge.

“Our hiring practices have allowed us to increase the company size by 158% to a total of 19 employees in the past eight months,” he says.

The principals identified that conventional employee searches would be unsuccessful.

“People currently employed are overloaded with work, and seeking new employment is additional stress added to an already heavy load,” he says.

So, the company reached out to people who seemed to fit its needs.

“We identified that we had a seat on our bus that needed to be filled, and we sought the appropriate person to fill that seat,” he says. “The result was high-quality candidates that met the objectives the firm needed, compared to sifting through resumes of individuals who were unqualified or who didn’t meet the culture of our company.”


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