MINNEAPOLIS (November 20, 2013) – Every day, Minnesotans walk by or enter buildings and structures that have been touched by Miller Dunwiddie, a legendary, Minneapolis-based, full-service architecture firm celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Since it was founded in 1963, the Minneapolis architecture firm has designed or reclaimed buildings and structures that have become beloved gems of Minnesota. The firm’s work is reflected in Minnesota buildings, facilities and landmarks such as:
- Terminal 2-Humphrey, MSP International Airport
- Hiawatha Light Rail Line (Target Field, American Blvd., 10 Station expansion)
- The Basilica of St. Mary
- The Cathedral of St. Paul
- The Minnesota State Capital
- Folwell Hall, University of Minnesota
- Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
- Silverwood Park Visitor Center
- Fort Snelling (Commandant’s House, Officer’s Quarters, Upper Post, etc.)
- James J. Hill House, St. Paul
- Marvin Training & Visitor Center, Warroad, Minn.
- The Muni, Wayzata
Founded by Bill Miller, Foster Dunwiddie and Ken Whitehead, the firm continues to thrive under the leadership of Craig Lau, Mark Miller, John Mecum, and Chuck Liddy, all of whom have been with the firm 20 years or more. Employing 40 people, including 23 licensed architects, the firm offers a full-range of architecture services, including architectural design, historic preservation, interior design, building envelope architecture and engineering, and construction services.
Miller Dunwiddie is among a small handful of independent Minnesota architecture firms that have reached the historic 50-year milestone. Lau, Miller, Mecum, and Liddy credit the firm’s continuing success to its emphasis on people, both its employees and clients; on architecture that places a greater emphasis on embracing changes that have re-defined the day-to-day practice of architecture.
“Unlike some professional service firms, we have maintained the name of our founders and we’re honored to pass along the values they shared with us to the next generation of Miller Dunwiddie architects,” said Liddy.
“Our clients and our employees have always come first in our book,” added Mecum. “One of the greatest lessons we learned from our founding partners is that the buildings we design are not ours. Awards are nice, but we’re here to solve problems. It’s about understanding how buildings work and how they can best serve the needs of our clients and the people they serve. It’s a timeless lesson that we’ll always cherish and take into our next 50 years.”
Originally founded as Miller Dunwiddie Whitehead Inc., the firm’s first office was located in Southtown Center in Bloomington, Minn. In the early years, Miller and Whitehead focused on aviation projects, while Dunwiddie focused on corporate and government clients.
For example, in 1968, the firm developed the innovative design of a new hangar at Mpls.-St. Paul International Airport – the world’s largest steel hyperbolic paraboloid hangar at the time. During the 1960s, the firm also designed the distinctive round glass buildings for Midwest Federal Savings and Loan that used to be commonly seen throughout the Twin Cities metro area.
Over the years, the firm’s strength in aviation and transportation projects continued to grow, as well as its expertise in the growing field of historic preservation. The firm has played a prominent role in the historic preservation of many landmark buildings throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.
In 1990, Bill Miller and Foster Dunwiddie sold the firm to employees Craig Lau and Bill’s son, Mark Miller, who serves as the firm’s chief financial officer. Architects John Mecum and Chuck Liddy joined the leadership team in the 1990s. The new owners continued to expand upon Miller and Dunwiddie’s client-focused vision and reputation for high-quality work. At the same time, the firm began to branch out into other projects in a variety of other industries. In 2001, the firm was honored with the AIA Minnesota Firm of the Year Award.
As Lau, Miller, Mecum and Liddy consider how the next generation of leadership will continue to build on the values of Miller and Dunwiddie, they’re already embracing the future, while at the same time grappling with changes that are reshaping how smaller architecture firms such as Miller Dunwiddie do business today.
“Our industry has changed a lot over the past 50 years,” Lau said. “We see more competition from general contractors who are offering architecture and design services. New technologies from design software to 3-D printers are changing the way we design and present to our clients. We, like many other firms, have had to become more nimble and more strategic in the way we run our business.”
But what won’t change, insist Lau, Miller, Mecum and Liddy is the relationship nature of the business.
“Whether it’s a big project or a small one, to our clients, it’s their project,” added Lau. “We’ve built a reputation based on integrity, working closely with our clients, and facing challenges together. The reason I think we’re still here after 50 years is that our clients respect us for our problem-solving skills.”
About Miller Dunwiddie
Miller Dunwiddie is a full-service architecture firm based in Minneapolis, Minn. Founded in 1963, the firm’s architecture philosophy is based on the core concept that “people always come first.” Miller Dunwiddie works with clients representing a number of industries such as education, transportation, commercial facilities, religious institutions, cultural landmarks and more. Miller Dunwiddie offers a range of services, including: architectural design, historic preservation, interior design, building envelope architecture and engineering, and construction services and owner’s representation. To learn more about Miller Dunwiddie, visit www.millerdunwiddie.com.