Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

HTK Architects Started Humbly in Farmhouse

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

HTK Architects Started Humbly in Farmhouse

Article excerpt

Architecture firms don't always start in impressive surroundings.

The firm that would become HTK Architects started in a farmhouse near the corner of S.W. 29th and MacVicar in 1958, said Chuck Smith, who is one of four partners now running the business. At that time, the surrounding roads weren't paved, he said.

"There was a dirt road that came back to our office," he said.

At that time, it had only two partners, Glen Horst and Joe Terrill. The third partner, Gary Karst, joined in 1965, giving the firm its current name. Smith would later join in 1990, and the other current partners, Mark Franzen, Don Pruitt and Keith Blackburn, joined in the 1980s.

The early partners built an office building in 1966 at 2900 S.W. MacVicar, where HTK would stay until it moved to a second floor office at 900 S. Kansas Ave. in November 2013, Smith said.

The early projects mostly focused on school buildings, such as Sunny Elevation Elementary, which is now part of the Auburn- Washburn Unified School District 437 offices, Smith said. They designed many of Topeka USD 501's buildings in the 1960s and 70s, though they also designed some commercial buildings and the Manhattan Country Club, he said.

Growth took off in the 1990s, when HTK began going into higher education and military contracts, Smith said, and the company now has between 30 and 40 employees. It takes time to move into different markets, because employees have to develop expertise and contacts within the industry, he said.

"The most important thing is finding someone in your firm who's passionate about the market," he said.

The company opened an Overland Park office doing similar work for markets to the east in 1997. That helped HTK make new contacts that benefited both offices, and they work together on some projects, said Elizabeth Johnson, spokeswoman for the company.

"There are times when one

office is busier than the other and we can share that work,"

she said. …

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