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Firm Profile: More Than Construction, Inc.

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Wardlaw Residence (rear)

More Than Construction, Inc., is like numerous other East Bay AIA Firms. While “firm” implies something substantial, and the “Inc.” means an entity with a separate financial life from its owners, these firms are often the work of a single individual, in this case Donald Wardlaw, AIA. To dispense with pretense, and give honesty a good foundation, let’s stipulate, for the purpose of this profile only, that “MTC”, “We” and “I” are all the same.

MTC is a skilled artisan shop. Its core strengths are knowledge, imagination, and communications. In particular that is knowledge with depth of, materials and construction practices, the regulatory environment, and the fundamental principles of design. It is imagination in understanding and solving problems. It is skill in written communications, especially drawings.

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Wardlaw Residence

Like other single person firms, the company skill set is the skill set of a single person. So too are the limitations. MTC can’t sell (we reason) and doesn’t care to learn. A good salesman can lead a horse to water and make him drink. I say, if the horse doesn’t want to drink, find some other way to entertain him.

Finding some other way is, for me, a common task. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, I believe that most problems have multiple possible solutions. The best solution is usually the one with the most acceptable compromises. If the solution set is a collection of imperfect answers, then finding the different ways a problem might be solved, is the route to finding the best solution.

The second reason is that we do things with our clients, not to them. We do not see our clients as an opportunity for a personal aesthetic exploration. I look forward, as any architect would, to an opportunity to create something beautiful. It does happen now and then and I’m very comfortable with that task, and I greatly enjoy it. But our focus is on what our clients need to have done whatever made them think my help was needed. We look for aesthetic opportunities that resonate with our clients first, and that usually entails looking at more than one solution.

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Bank of Richmond building in Point Richmond, CA (w/Interactive Resources)

MTC is also comfortable doing work that is background, utilitarian and unspectacular. Those qualities do not align with shabby, awkward, clumsy or grotesque, which we eschew. It is respectable to do mundane things and care genuinely about them. A world of only beautiful buildings would be a dreadful place, the essence of beauty lost.
Almost all of MTC’s work is alterations and additions to existing buildings, with related site changes. Our realm is residential, commercial and industrial. Every project is unique and our work process and product ends up an adaptation to the particulars of the project.
I willingly trade the completely respectable glory of a team with a fine pedigree, for the rewards of mostly modest achievements in my own right, with a special pleasure reserved within, for an occasional exceptional result.

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