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Jym Wilson | SBJ

A Conversation With ... Michael Hampton

Principal Architect, Arkifex Studios LLC

Posted online

Your firm has a design philosophy of Ozark modernism. How does that guide your work?
We’re a small firm. We opened our doors in 2014. There were four of us that started the firm, and all came from different backgrounds. We consider ourselves a progressive and contemporary architecture firm, and our focus is mainly in this region. We try to use a mix of raw and refined materials and always try to do our best to locally source materials and use simplified and naturalistic materials. For example, we try to use a lot of Phenix stone in our projects because it’s quarried here. We like the look of it. We like the concept, the history behind it, and we feel like it’s got a great place in the Ozarks as a building material.

What projects are you working on?
We just wrapped up a new corporate office for Fiocchi of America. It’s about a 13,000-square-foot, single-story office building, and they just moved in at the beginning of this year. We’re also working on some other facility buildings within their campus in Ozark. They are an ammunitions manufacturer. They started in the 1800s. Their worldwide headquarters is in Italy, and their U.S. headquarters is in Ozark. We’re finishing up a Springfield Public Schools project, a partnership between SPS and (Missouri State University), and that’s the SPS Magnet School at the Darr College of Agriculture. There will be some kids that will start using it here in the next few months. We’re starting a design phase for Kuat on an extension for more office space and warehouse space. They’re growing, and we’re continuing to work with them on that.

You primarily work in commercial design. The way we work has changed dramatically in recent years. How is that influencing design, and what other trends are you watching?
The No. 1 thing that we’re hearing when we talk to our clients and work through the schematic design phase is flexibility in their program. That’s the ability to change with the future needs of the space. COVID brought that on probably more so than anything else has in the past, with just the uncertainty of the office space, primarily, and with people working from home and then starting to come back, what does the office space look like? The other thing is outdoor space, rooftop space – if the program allows and the budget allows, pulling the outside in. That’s another attribute of how we try to design Arkifex Studios, the biophilic design; it’s a term for bringing the outdoors in – getting as much natural light as possible.

The city of Springfield changed its building code in recent years. What are the changes, and how have they affected your work?
The city of Springfield adopted the 2018 International Building Code in late 2019. Currently, the 2018 (International Energy Conservation Code) adoption by the city of Springfield, slated for this summer, will allow the building industry to be more closely aligned with the (American Institute of Architects’) national goal of energy-efficient building codes and reducing our impact on climate change. I think it’s the right thing to do, and I think it’s the right thing to continue to make buildings more energy efficient, but it also comes at a cost.

You serve as board president of the local chapter of the AIA. With labor shortages being such a hot topic, how would you characterize local talent?
[Drury University’s] Hammons School of Architecture is a five-year program, so one of the fortunate things is that third- and fourth-year students have the ability in a lot of cases to get an internship with local firms. That’s a win-win. They can create a relationship with them to potentially hire them when they graduate. It also gives the student the ability to try out firms. There’s a mix of firms that specialize in different types of architecture. That helps attract and retain different interest levels. With engineering, I hear them talk about this all the time that it’s really challenging for them to get students to come to Springfield because there’s no engineering schools here locally.

Michael Hampton can be reached at michael@arkifexstudios.com.

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