Looking for a sign of a good economy? One indicator might come in the form of architecture.
Sarasota-based Sweet Sparkman Architects recently hired four new full-time employees — three architects and one interior designer.
With the addition of Casey Allen, Shane LaMay, Cole Mears and Shirley Quinlan, the firm now has 10 architects, six architectural designers, two interior designers, four interns and five people working in administration and marketing.
The new hires come amid growing demand for the firm, named the AIA Florida 2018 Firm of the Year by the American Institute of Architects.
Principal Todd Sweet tells Coffee Talk part of the firm’s success is because it has diversified the types of projects it takes on. “In addition to doing commercial work, we also do residential work, and we do our fair share of public sector,” he says. That includes government buildings, schools and higher education projects along with public safety and civic work.
Sweet Sparkman’s growth connects, too, to general population growth for Florida and Sarasota. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of growth in this region, and with that growth comes service needs,” Sweet says, including buildings like schools, fire stations and libraries.
There’s been residential sector growth for the firm as well. According to Sweet, there’s greater investment in waterfront properties, and the firm has gotten more projects on Longboat Key, Casey Key and Siesta Key. “In this area, there’s such an awareness of architecture and design that people really want creative solutions to living,” he says.
About a year ago, the firm purchased an interior design practice already operating in Sarasota called Dwell Interiors. “We’re trying to now supplement our architecture with interiors,” Sweet says. “We’ve put quite a bit of emphasis on building that practice.”
Part of the firm’s current success also relates to the recession. “Because we weathered the recession, I think it put us in a good opportunity to provide the service to previous clients and new clients,” Sweet says. “Now we’re going on 17 years. After a certain period of time, you get larger projects and they trust you and give you more challenging work. And I think that’s where we are.”