One recent rainy morning, MiSA had the pleasure of meeting the folks with CREO Architecture for coffee at Estate Coffee Company just East of downtown to discuss this city-on-the-rise and it’s promising future. We discussed their individual experience, how CREO came to be, and their vision for the future.
Kris Feldmann, Design Principal of CREO, previously worked for the prestigious international architecture mega-firm HOK out of Los Angeles, California. It was there that he worked on large scale healthcare and transportation projects. Following HOK, and after a year working for a smaller firm on the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, he then relocated to local Overland Partners, a firm with projects all over the world. Kris received his B.A. in Fine Arts and Economics from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, but for his masters he decided to follow his true calling and pursued architecture, going across the country to the Southern California Institute of Architecture, also known as SCIArc. When asked why he loves working in San Antonio he said,
“There is tremendous opportunity to raise your hand and get involved in various initiatives to improve the City. Many cities have a lot of red tape and city officials aren’t accessible. In San Antonio, if you are passionate about something and have the determination to stick with it, the odds are high that you will be able have a positive impact and influence the exciting trajectory of the City.”
Maurice Flores attended the renowned Parsons School of Design in New York, received his Bachelors of Science in Architecture from UTSA, Masters of Architecture from University of Colorado. Locally he has worked for Marmon Mok who has a long history of modern architecture in San Antonio. Like Kris, he also worked for San Antonio’s reputable Overland Partners where they worked together on a corporate headquarters in Wisconsin. Today Maurice brings great talent and value to CREO’s repertoire. When asked why he moved back to San Antonio he mentioned,
“There is an authenticity to the culture that goes beyond just San Antonio’s rich history. It’s a culture that is unconcerned with being trendy or hip, but instead is fueled by people of all walks of life who have something to offer our city, and who care about their craft, whatever it is – I think that is uniquely San Antonian.”
CREO’s latest addition to their team is Leonardo Hernandez. Prior to working at CREO, Leonardo worked with both Overland Partners and French and Michigan, a local multidisciplinary design firm, designing and fabricating furniture and custom architectural components. These days, Leonardo still designs and builds furniture, and can often be found out on the town shooting architecture and street photography. When asked why he loves San Antonio he stated,
“I love San Antonio’s unique identity, and embracing community. Having been born and raised in a small town in northern Mexico, a powerful sense of community is very important to me. I find it comforting here, and value the sincere love and appreciation for the experiential quality that makes San Antonio its own.”
CREO’s staff are all avid craftsmen and increasingly involved in the maker movement here in San Antonio. To us, this signals that they not only know how to design but are aware of what it takes to execute the designs that they are sketching and drawing.
Maurice hand-crafted the leather suspended loungers for the office that reside in their waiting area. He also has constructed various furniture pieces such as tables, desks and shelving systems, as well as intricate wood pieces like custom toolboxes, crosses, and cutting boards.
Prior to his time in San Antonio while living in Los Angeles, Kris worked with a metal fabricator constructing everything from custom architectural features to a “couch car” for Burning Man (a couch on a steel frame with a motorcycle engine attached to the back). These days with less time for fabrication he is focused on design research and projects that contribute to and enhance the urban experience.
CREO’s office is currently located on the future site of Essex Modern City, a large mixed-use development for which they are the Design Architect. It is the same site that used to be occupied by a wood pallet company. So as the saying goes, “When in Rome”...free wood! They brilliantly took that as an opportunity to reuse the abandoned pallet wood for the interior of their office, and as the other saying goes, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/Re-purpose!” We applaud them for their sustainability efforts.
CREO also recently engaged local street art muralists, Los Otros, for a temporary installation in their office of two vivid photo-realistic paintings on canvas by Nik Soupe along with Shek Vega’s striking filigree work in the background. You can read more about Los Otros in our article on The Kennedy.
Plugged into the Community
The local chapter of Urban Land Institute, a preeminent multidisciplinary real estate forum, recently had their kick-off meeting for their Young Leaders Group. CREO hosted the event, entertaining a packed house of up-and-coming leaders in our local commercial real estate industries.
Another event in which CREO was heavily involved was Essex Art Project. This was a community outreach event on the site of the future Essex Modern City development that included a mural on the grounds (in progress during the event) by Los Angeles- based artist Moncho1929. It was an afternoon of fun for all ages including food truck, beer from local Freetail Brewing, bike obstacle course, bean bag toss, ping-pong, more murals by Los Otros, and a chance at putting on a headset to experience the latest 3D model of Essex Modern City via virtual reality. They will be having this event again, so stay tuned to MiSA’s social media to see when the next one will be!
As CREO continues to build its presence in San Antonio, they plan to reach out to and engage more of the maker community through everything from events that showcase the exceptional and diverse talents of the community to working directly with more local fabricators and artists to incorporate unique features to the projects they are designing.
Local Architects and Designers
Being that CREO is a fresh new firm, we also discussed the San Antonio market and how only a few select clients, residential and commercial alike, are able to afford to hire the larger more established architecture firms. These large to medium firms are extremely talented with numerous awards to show for it, but also require high fees due to demand for their services. They also tend to have large overhead costs that they are trying maintain; therefore, only a fortunate few have the option of going with them. Many smaller clients tend to be discouraged by this, losing faith in the value of the design process, or often just go without the services of a design architect.
Here at MiSA we value great design, and we hope that our readers will join us in this pursuit. We want to encourage these clients with tighter budgets, to seek out smaller firms located here in San Antonio. These firms can be more competitive on fees and are actively seeking out opportunities to make good design more accessible to all. They are typically more affordable and what you save on fees you don’t have to sacrifice on talent. Look through our various firm profile articles and search for the firms whose work really speaks to you. Seek them out. Visit their website. Meet them for coffee to chat about their design philosophy. Find out if they are willing to listen to your design tastes or if the expectation is that you are hiring them to go exclusively with their design ideas. No need to dismiss beautiful design due to cost. There are firms looking forward to your call and are committed to finding ways to work within your budget. ¡Viva MiSA!