Curran Architecture is pleased to announce the addition of two new partners, Melissa Garrison and David Wagner. Garrison, who’s worked at the firm for 10 years, and Wagner, who’s been there for 14, now share ownership with firm founder Shawn Curran.
Shawn started Curran Architecture in 2003 as a one-man operation. Today, the Indianapolis-based, 16-person firm specializes in retail, office, medical and industrial projects. Thanks to Curran Architecture’s people-first approach and attention to detail, many of the firm’s clients are repeat clients, including developers, contractors and end users. Some even partnered with the firm when it was founded 19 years ago, never looking back.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shawn started thinking about the future of Curran. He thought about the big picture and what the firm might look like after he retired. “I approached David and Melissa and told them their knowledge, experience and commitment to the company made them excellent candidates for ownership,” said Shawn. “This isn’t just ‘Shawn’s company.’ It’s bigger than that. It’s the continuation of the company beyond me.”
Shawn founded Curran with a simple mission: Combine quality design with unparalleled service. Garrison and Wagner plan to build upon that legacy while retaining the fun, close-knit feeling of a small firm.
“It’s important to Dave and me to continue the legacy that Shawn has developed for the firm,” said Garrison. “Dave and I both started our careers at Curran really young. This is where we’ve shaped our values about architecture. We want to make the firm our own, but we also want to carry on Shawn’s legacy because what he set up and created is valuable.”
Garrison, a native of Whitehouse, Ohio, joined Curran in 2012. She earned a Bachelor of Science, Architecture, and Environmental Studies degree from Bowling Green State University and received her Master of Architecture from Ball State University. Initially, it was a trip to Europe that sparked her interest in architecture. She had grown up watching her architect father draw floor plans, and while touring the great landmarks of the French countryside, she realized she wanted to do the same. Now, Garrison focuses on building friendships with everyone on a project team, from the client to the contractors. “I like that team mentality and like when I can be friends with everyone involved on the project,” she said. “The environment is more successful and collaborative.”
Wagner always looks for ways to strengthen relationships as well, a mindset he developed while working at a previous firm.
“I was at a bigger firm where people tend to get lost in the shuffle and sometimes are overlooked as an individual with individual skills and resources,” he said. “I liked the idea of a smaller firm, since it was different from what I had experienced.”
Wagner, an Indiana native and Ball State University graduate, joined Curran in 2008. Today, the senior project manager oversees a variety of projects for clients in a wide range of industries. Although there’s no such thing as “a typical day” for Wagner, he believes in being responsive to a client’s needs, no matter their size or project type. He focuses on client success and satisfaction and approaches ownership the same way.
“I was honored that Shawn considered me as one of the ones to carry the company forward. I’m excited to be part of the team and the steady growth of the company,” Wagner said. “Yes, I want to keep the doors open. But more importantly, we have fun and know each other personally, which is one of our biggest attractors of good talent,” Wagner said.
Both Garrison and Wagner are excited to take on more responsibilities and consider the opportunity to shape the company rewarding. They want to continue hiring one to two people a year and want to be intentional about developing an environment where interns and graduate architects can gain experience and receive mentoring. Garrison and Wagner also want to increase Curran’s role in sustainable design and habitat preservation when it comes to new buildings. Their main goal, though, is to maintain the people-first mentality upon which Shawn founded Curran almost 20 years ago.