From day one, we’ve always kept relationship building and innovative problem solving at the forefront for our clients. In fact, these were a few of our founding principles when Allen Jenkins, Myron Starks and Thomas Wurzer started our firm as Jenkins-Wurzer-Starks, Architects & Planners in 1969. Each of our founders brought their own specialties to the table. Myron’s was banking and financial institution design and Tom’s was corporate design with a background in structural steel design and detailing. Allen’s specialty was masonry repair, which helped the young firm gain and maintain RIT as a client, making them one of our longest standing client relationships.
In 1972, Peter Romeo, who had worked with Wurzer in the past, joined the firm to create the construction documents for Bristol Harbor Villages, one of our first major housing projects and became the firm’s chief drafter. John Patterson joined the firm around the same time bringing his knowledge and experience in K-12 Education. The two men quickly became junior partners and in 1979, principals. Jenkins left the firm that year and the name was changed to Starks Wurzer Patterson Romeo Architects, P.C. A few notable projects from our firm’s early days included the Central Trust Building, Pittsford Fire Hall, City of Rochester Central Vehicle Maintenance Facility and work for Nazareth College.
During the next decade, more staff was added and principals named including David Beinetti, Steve Brennan, Ted Butcher, Jay Judson, Kathleen Kaminski, Bud Knapp and Tom Zimmerman and we decided to simplify the name to initials. But instead of a tongue twisting JBBRWSZ, we decided on SWBR Architects, as a nod to our early roots and ongoing growth. It was during this time that we added interior design and structural engineering as in-house disciplines so we could apply our rigorous quality and cost controls to the process on behalf of our clients.
As we built our portfolio, we also built up our people the same way we did in the early days – nurturing, mentoring and developing each one – evolving into an integrated, experienced team. In the late 1980s, our internal growth led to the firm being recognized as Rochester Business Journal’s #1 Architecture Firm in Monroe County, a ranking we’ve held several times since. And while that’s nice, it’s more importantly a testament to how many of our people started, built and continue their careers with us.
Even as our firm continued to grow in size, we maintained long-term relationships with our clients, allowing us to better understand their needs and solve their problems, this has remained central to our culture. Beginning in the early 1990s, our clients’ needs began to change and expand at an exponential rate, reflecting the rapid changes occurring in the world on everything from philosophy to economy to technology. So, we did too. We began adding specialty markets within our core disciplines. Senior living and person-centered care, affordable and supportive housing, civic and municipal design, college and university, science and technology, sustainable design, historic preservation and adaptive reuse – are just a few examples.
This strategy has continued into the 2000s, leading to rapid growth and the addition of our Syracuse office. Some more recent milestone projects include Brickstone at St. John’s senior living, recognized nationally for architectural excellence, RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, which achieved LEED Platinum Certification, The Highlands of Pittsford, our first senior living facility in the Rochester area and our work at UR’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics, which is a unique national resource for research and education in science and technology.
Today, known simply as SWBR, we’ve added graphic design and landscape architecture as disciplines to complement our core strengths and answer our clients evolving needs. Our portfolio continues to grow with education, housing and workplace projects nationally, locally and regionally and our projects have earned nearly 150 industry awards.
Going forward, we are focused on strategic growth which will position us for increased success in our mission of positively impacting lives through meaningful design.
Firm is founded by Allan Jenkins, Myron Starks, Thomas Wurzer
Jenkins-Wurzer Starks moves to 65 College Avenue
Staff of 15 employees
Firm name changed to SWPR (Starks, Wurzer, Patterson, Romeo)
Staff of 27 employees
Firm name changed to SWBR (Starks, Wurzer, Beinetti, Butcher, Romeo)
SWBR is named No. 1 on Rochester Business Journal Top Architecture Firms
SWBR relocates to Eastman Place
Staff of 44 employees
SWBR is named to Rochester’s Top 100 Firms
Staff of 50 employees
Staff of 61 Employees
SWBR introduces Nautilus logo
Staff of 80 employees
Staff of 89 employees
SWBR launches new identity and website