Published June 19, 2024

Always Up For The Challenge: Spotlight on Bob Patton, LEED AP

Bob Patton, Senior Associate and Senior Architect at MSKTD, has never met a challenge where he didn’t give it his all. Indeed, rising above expectations has been a key indicator that drove him to consider entering the profession in the first place.

“I was taking some drafting and design classes in high school,” he said. “I specifically remember a high school teacher telling us that getting into architecture is great, but the acceptance rate is only about 10%.” At the time, no one from Bob’s high school had gotten into the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University. “I thought, ‘Hey, even though it’s a lot of work, I’m going to do that!’” And he did.

Along the way, Bob discovered he had both a natural affinity for art and design and a passion for the design process as a whole, with a profound respect for the impact he could have on the built environment—and people’s lives. “Once you experience the entire process from start to finish,” he said, “you discover how cool it is that you’re designing something on a screen that actually becomes a real building.”

That interest created a path for his future. “After a couple of internships at MSKTD,” said Bob, “Jim Kratzat, then-president of MSKTD, came down during my thesis review and opened up his briefcase.” It contained a single piece of paper—Bob’s offer letter. “I accepted on the spot.”

Over the past 20+ years that Bob has been with MSKTD, he has had the opportunity to work on a wide range of challenging projects. “My absolute favorite project has been the retail store at Sweetwater Sound. Their business was growing like crazy. We would renovate an area and then be updating it three years later because the business was evolving so quickly. I learned a lot about how Chuck Surack was running his business, with a constant drive to do better and improve efficiency so they could provide the ultimate customer experience.”

Franklin Electric’s headquarters posed some unique challenges as well. “They design and manufacture pumps for systems that move water and energy resources and needed a corporate headquarters plus a research and development lab to test their pumps and motors,” said Bob. “We ended up creating test pits in the floor, ranging in all different sizes and depths with overhead cranes throughout the facility. It required a lot of coordination with our electrical, mechanical, and plumbing teams. It was challenging and a lot of fun.”

For Bob, it’s very satisfying to help these clients grow their businesses. “We’ve been part of them dreaming big and pushing the envelope,” he said. “It’s great to see their dreams evolve.”

As part of the Corporate & Civic team, Bob gets to touch a wide variety of project types. “I really enjoy the projects where I get to learn something new,” he said. Take the new ice floor at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, for instance. “It’s not very often that an architect in Fort Wayne gets to replace an ice floor system in a 13,000-seat arena. I never would have guessed that I’d have an opportunity to learn how an ice floor refrigeration system works!

“The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years,” he continued, “is how to be an absolute sponge for information. It’s my job to learn every bit of the detail about our client’s business, understanding their spaces and processes. Once I know what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and where they want to go, I can pull out that information to create a design solution to meet their needs.”

For Bob, working for a full-service A/E firm and being in close proximity to other disciplines in-house is a great advantage, both for him and his clients. “We can move quickly to respond to situations that come up during construction,” he said. “I can get together with the mechanical and electrical engineers for five minutes after a phone call with a client and work out a solution in real time, with all of us collaborating around a table together.”

Looking toward the future as an MSKTD senior associate, Bob‘s focus is to continue to discover how MSKTD can make our service better than anywhere else. “We have to be in that mindset,” he said. Bob hopes to pass his drive to exceed expectations on to others. “I see myself trying to push us constantly to be the best at serving our clients.”

As for his passion for the business? It’s never faded. “I really enjoy working with a wide range of clients in different disciplines,” he said. “I still get excited about all our opportunities to serve.”