ARG has a new domain name, and our commitment to preservation as a dynamic and evolving field has never been stronger. ARG’s Marketing Team asked the firm’s Principals about this exciting update and what ARGcreate says about our past, present, and future.
Changing a domain name is a big deal – what was the motivation behind it?
ARG was founded in 1980 as one of the first architectural firms focused on preserving the West Coast’s rich built heritage. We regularly work on projects throughout the western United States. While our previous domain names emphasized our different locations, “ARGcreate” underscores that we are a unified team pooling all our strengths and expertise through constant collaboration.
It’s extremely important to us that, although we have multiple offices, we maintain the vision and culture of a single firm sharing a passion for the future of historic buildings and sites. A single domain name helps us communicate this goal.
Why was ARGcreate a compelling choice?
ARG has always been well-known as a full-service architectural firm that produces exemplary work. ARGcreate foregrounds our emphasis on design, and especially our belief that creative process is key to the results we achieve.
ARGcreate reflects our conviction that revitalizing historic environments is fundamentally creative work. Respecting cultural resources and responding to current needs in ways that align stewardship and client aspirations requires imagination, sensitivity, and agile thinking.
Creativity is dynamic and innovative. ARGcreate emphasizes our mission to consider existing places in an imaginative way that keeps them relevant and meaningful.
What does ARGcreate mean to you?
I’m continually inspired by the innovative solutions that the ARG team develops for every project. We’re privileged to work on so many fascinating and sensitive places, and to be trusted to make them flourish. This gives us the opportunity every day to create, create, create!
There’s a widespread misconception that historic preservation is about freezing time, and “creativity” is not always a word people associate with the field. However, it takes incredible creativity to instill new vitality into old buildings! We believe that this vitality is enhanced by the important stories that every historic place can tell, and our mission is to help create beautiful, relevant places that continue to tell those stories for future generations.
How have you seen ARG’s mission evolve up to the present?
In ARG’s early years, preservation and adaptive reuse were unfamiliar ground for many clients. Even owners who came to us with great existing buildings were concerned about embarking on a renovation project and the complexities and unknowns involved. A great deal of our efforts went into dispelling the mystery around preservation and convincing them of its benefits, but over time we’ve had to do this less and less. Now there’s an intuitive understanding of the value of existing buildings that’s shared by everyone from owners to communities to public agencies.
As architects who work with existing buildings, we’ve always had a conservation mindset. ARG joined the 2030 Challenge last year and we are expanding our toolkit to enhance the sustainability of our projects and take full advantage of the embodied carbon in existing structures. Climate change is an urgent reality that drives us to find more and better strategies to reduce environmental impacts, both in construction and over the life of a building.
Historic buildings and neighborhoods are increasingly recognized not just for their architectural styles and usable square footage, but also for the social histories they represent. We appreciate the stories of those who lived and worked in these buildings as much as we appreciate how old the structures are or how beautiful and intact their historic fabric is.
While preservation as a field originated from attention to physical facts, intangible aspects of place are increasingly acknowledged as a significant part of the discipline. Understanding the complexity of multiple perspectives has become central to addressing historic places, and ARG has embraced this in our work.
As leaders in preservation, what role does ARG have in changing the field for the better?
As one of the nation’s foremost experts in historic preservation, we consider it our responsibility to stay on the forefront of new technologies and policies related to historic projects, such as 3D scanning, HBIM, sustainability initiatives, housing policies, and financial incentives, among others. Our clients know that when they work with ARG, they are working with architects, planners, historians, and conservators with unparalleled and specialized expertise and an incredible dedication to their practice. These client partnerships produce ground-breaking work that helps to advance the field.
ARG has pioneered the integration of applied conservation into the architectural process. While conservation has often been treated as an entirely separate discipline, if not an afterthought, to preservation, we are strong advocates for incorporating research and development of conservation techniques into design thinking. This approach has been critical to ARG’s success – it allows for a uniquely appropriate response to each project we take on.
In many of our projects, we’ve faced the challenge of balancing different aspects of preservation. When does physical fabric take precedence, and when is viable use the key issue? How can history that’s conveyed through places support history conveyed through communities? These are great questions, and ARG’s work explores how they can be meaningfully addressed by thoughtful consideration and creative design.
What legacy does ARG hope to create?
We hope to create places that are rich in meaning, environmentally responsible, and enduring. We hope to create relationships with clients and colleagues that are friendships. And we hope to make beneficial and beautiful contributions to the built environment that bring joy to all who experience them.
That we helped to inspire and envision the reinvigoration of the existing built environment so that they can continue to enrich their neighborhoods and communities and continue telling the stories of the people that built and inhabited them.
That we tell great and enlightening stories. To bring histories to life, you need to carefully choose and shape their messages. We hope to help guide clients and communities through this process so that their stories are told in ways that capture historical truths and continue to have an impact in the future.
ARG has an amazing 40-year history of preservation successes, and we add new layers to our experience every day. Much like preservation practice itself, our legacy is a vital, evolving, and comprehensive approach to existing environments that weaves together places with the stories of the people who made and experienced them.
When ARG was founded, our unofficial philosophy was do good work, have fun, and make money. That philosophy is still relevant. I hope we are remembered for the good work we did, that we had fun doing that work, and we made some money along the way.