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Published: Monday, 9/10/2001 - Updated: 1 year ago

Design firm enters new era

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

“We wanted to be at a certain financial level, to buy a building, and to [manage] the retirement process,” said Thomas Porter, one of the partners in the 30-year-old company.

The firm two years ago bought and renovated a building at 830 North Summit St., said good-bye this summer to Robert Seyfang and Daryl Blanchard as they retired, and assembled a staff of nearly 20 who are working on projects that could bring in as much as $2.5 million in business this year.

But it's an addendum to the plan that has Mr. Porter and Michael Duket the most excited about the company's future. The two partners recently renamed the firm Duket Porter MacPherson because of the addition of Katherine Bentley MacPherson and her husband, D. Scot MacPherson.

“I think we're all of the same mind in terms of presenting design to the community and how we're going to approach the next few years, but we each have different approaches and different abilities,” Mr. Duket said. “We really want to try and build a strong design firm.”

The MacPhersons are excited about the move because joining with Mr. Duket and Mr. Porter has allowed Mrs. MacPherson to return to her hometown after 20 years in the Boston area, the last 14 as partner with her husband in their own architectural firm.

“We never thought we'd be in Boston that long,” Mrs. MacPherson said. “We're very excited about being here because there's a lot of stuff going on.”

Mrs. MacPherson has known Mr. Duket since 1985 when he was hired to renovate a home for Mrs. MacPherson's parents.

The two clicked because they have the same sensibilities when it comes to design, Mrs. MacPherson said.

Mrs. MacPherson's family has been in the Toledo area for five generations and her father, A.L. Bentley, Jr., was president of the Bentley Co., a longtime Toledo construction firm that built many of Toledo's landmarks.

“Building has been in my bones for a long time,” she said.

All four architects are familiar with the challenges that accompany working on high-profile projects.

Seyfang Blanchard Duket Porter worked on the Academic House at the University of Toledo, the downtown TARTA bus station, and Central Union Plaza, while the MacPhersons did the Sun Unity Tower on Boston Harbor, the Frog Pond Recreation Center, and the city of Boston Visitor Center on Boston Common.

Both the Toledo architects and the MacPhersons expect to continue with projects for local school districts and universities, as well as libraries and high-end residential areas.

“I think we would like to get a little more regional. We're already doing schools in Findlay, Lima, and Medina,” Mr. MacPherson said.

The architects are getting high marks in Medina, where Mr. Porter is leading a multibuilding renovation at elementary, junior, and senior high schools.

Ground is to be broken this month for the most ambitious phase of the $24 million building project, which calls for two elementary schools to mirror each other with a shared gym, cafeteria, and other areas.

“It's been a wonderful relationship,” said Craig Bailey, superintendent of the 2,400-student district. “They are . very unassuming and have great ideas. We like their architectural designs and they have been very receptive to anything we've asked of them or needed, in any way, shape or form.”

Mr. Porter said he would like the firm to do more industrial projects, perhaps win a national design competition and see the building get built, and buy and renovate more buildings like they've done with their headquarters.

“I think we would like to expand,” said Mr. Duket. “We have the capability to add another 10 people. It could be a five-year plan or it could be sooner.”

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