by Matt Delaney
Nestled in an office overlooking W. Broad Street is the new headquarters of GreenSpur, Inc, a burgeoning architecture firm whose holistic approach helps them stand out from the crowd.
Most architectural firms “stay in their lane” by focusing solely on designing buildings while a separate company carries out their construction process. GreenSpur creates and develops all of their projects, ensuring that the end result represents the company’s zeal for appeal and sustainability but also exceeds the bottom line.
“We’re really interested in seeing things get built,” director of design Zach Gasper said. “Having that responsibility and seeing a project through from start to finish … in the long run, is a huge benefit to our clients because we have their financial needs [in mind].”
“You gotta be compelling, but you also gotta be profitable,” founder and owner Mark Turner added. “There are a lot of great architecture firms out there with a lot of great designs that never get built because there’s not a connection between the reality of building something – [the] cost and logistics of it – and doing a pretty picture on paper.”
So far so good, as past clients have been treated to ecological and aesthetic delights. With individual properties such as the Night Watchman’s house or the Floating Cabin to large-scale undertakings like the Black Apple pocket community in Bentonville, Arkansas, GreenSpur has consistently delivered its own unique brand of architecture.
When it came to designing the office, GreenSpur approached the task like any other project. Working within a budget was as important as creating a space that reflected the company’s character, which is why a bar area offering coffee and whiskey (yes, you read that right) can be enjoyed knowing it wasn’t a trade-off for a decent salary.
Although what subtly defines GreenSpur’s new home and its work is a commitment to rustic features and evoking the natural beauty in symmetry.
“While all of our projects are relatively modern, they have a heartstring on historical qualities,” Turner said. “So there’s a healthy tension between historical precedence and a new, fresh look at things.”
“One of our trademarks is symmetry,” Turner continued. “Most great architecture around the world has a level of symmetry to it. There’s a whole science [behind] facial recognition and what’s considered beautiful, and if things [aren’t] symmetrical to a human we’re very perceptive.
Setting the bar high for competing design and development companies would satisfy most people, but Turner and his team are also challenging the traditional workplace culture we’ve come to accept. Traditional being the strict expectations on dress, the drudgery of a commute and the fluorescent-soaked isolation of a cubicle, all of which can turn a 9-5 routine into a rather miserable experience.
Known as “conscious business,” it’s the practice of maintaining homeostasis between employer, employee and the environment, and it has become a progressive corporate model. Examples you see every day are Costco Wholesale and Whole Foods Market.
However, reimagining our typical idea of an office is just one aspect of a conscious business. Another major part is creating a business for more than the sake of profit, but to actually provide a positive impression on its consumers.
“When we do our buildings we try to focus in on three criteria [more or less]:having a connection to nature, simplicity and meaning,” Turner said.
“We really focus in on simplicity and scale because the trend is going away from complexity and big spaces. Having a site location that connects the occupants with natural surroundings [and] to others is all really important to infuse meaning into a person’s life.”
It’s clear the Little City is fortunate to have such talented tenants, but at the same time it asks the question: Why did they choose Falls Church?
The answer, just like everything else about GreenSpur, revolves around honing in on a bond. This time it’s shared between the city and the company.
“Falls Church is very unique and it’s got a lot of the same principles GreenSpur embodies,” Turner said. “It’s a small town in a big city, a really rich diversity, and great schools. There’s a real sense of community in Falls Church that we’re trying to incorporate in our corporate philosophy.”
Locals have taken notice of GreenSpur’s innovative projects with good reason, but some wish the company would make exceptions to its business practice for those residing in the 22046. To that, Turner says no chance – his office serves as a constant reminder to city residents that reviving the past will always be what GreenSpur is about.
“We’re getting a lot of development pressure in Falls Church to do big-scale stuff, which sometimes takes away from the character,” Turner said. “We use an old building on Broad Street that has its character and keeps the patina you still need in a community. I think the mayor appreciates it, I think the city council appreciates it and we’re happy to be here.”
GreenSpur’s love of employees, the Earth and its community coupled with a modern flare for nostalgia has made it a welcome addition to Falls Church. Before you know it, the company will be making some additions of its own around town.