Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
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OPN Architects: Community-Centered Design

On November 9, 2017, Wes Reynolds and Kari Heus visited the UW-Madison campus to grace the Design Studies Leadership Symposium with OPN Architects’ incredible creative knowledge and exemplary work! Wesley Reynolds graduated from the architecture program from the University of Iowa and is currently a leader of the Madison, WI branch of OPN Architects, one of the four total branches. Kari Heus is one of the 12 talented interior designers of the branch and is an alumni of UW- Madison’s Interior Architecture and program!

OPN Architects has been up and running since 1979 and has completed over 100 projects, earning them 26 AIA and IIDA awards. They work to create and restore buildings across the midwest and are expanding their reach of clients through the United States. One of their most recent completed designs is located right here in the heart of Madison, in which you may be familiar with. OPN Architects recently revived the building and space to create Lucille restaurant, located on the Capitol Square! This is just one example of the many fantastic structures that they have created.

Wes Reynolds (far left), Kari Heus (far right), and Design Leadership Symposium students

Throughout their awe-inspiring presentation, Wes and Kari intrigued their audience with the various projects they have completed as well as the current projects that OPN is working on. They mentioned the several aspects of design and the processes that they go through to create their designs. It was truly amazing to hear about their passion to engage with the community that their designs would be for to effectively meet their needs, as well as to enhance the public space that is offered. Their designs are also created to fit into environmental and cost-efficiency methods and ideas.

Their attitude towards their work is what makes them one of the most successful architectural companies in the midwest. What they had to share with us before departing must be repeated and remembered. Wes and Kari emphasized the importance, for all designers, creative thinkers, and problem solvers to make their ideas visible, to share and co-create their ideas, to make others successful in order to truly be successful yourself, to be optimistic, and to make ideas buildable. The last thing they wanted to emphasize was not to fear failure. In fact, they encouraged it because “to fail faster encourages you to succeed earlier”.

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