Your name: Jeremy Frommelt
What do you do at Iconica:
Architectural Director- I work on a variety of projects and oversee other architects in our department. I’ve been at Iconica for 18 years.
What do you love about your job?
I love being able to create commercial spaces that others can enjoy in their everyday lives. No matter what size or budget, I know we are helping create a better work environment for people and upgrading their time at work.
What led you to the design field?
Growing up, my father was in the construction industry, and I always loved looking through his blueprints. Later on, I worked in construction and enjoyed seeing how everything went together.
What is most exciting about your job?
There is a different challenge with every project.
How has design/ architecture/ interior design/ changed since you started?
Technology first and foremost, from hand drafting to AutoCAD, and now Revit. The same design concepts are still there, but now you can create a building in 3D and practically live in the space before it is built, – that is powerful.
Describe some of your favorite projects?
I enjoy working through the process of how learning how a client’s existing space works or doesn’t and finding a means to improve upon that. We want to make a better work environment for the business owner and their employees. At KeyLime Cove, a resort and waterpark north of Chicago, I worked on the large lobby and I designed four different restaurants, each with a unique theme. It was a giant puzzle to put together. In Madison, 306 West Main, was a bigger dive into a high rise, residential, urban development. I enjoyed the change in design style. The Middleton branch of the State Bank of Cross Plains will be completed this spring. I have enjoyed working with the client and my team to give the bank a whole new look and workflow for their business. And one other project I recall from several years ago was a large remodel for Baker Tilly on the east side of Madison. They had 22 different departments with varying needs for access to each other to piece together on multiple floors and then complete construction in phases to keep them operational at all times. Fixing a problem can be just as rewarding as designing from scratch.
What are some of the current trends?
Right now, everything is about light. We see many requests for offices being more open and for natural light. We can incorporate more light into spaces, no matter how new or old a building is with daylighting, lighting fixtures, lights through transoms, side lights, and thoughtful wall placement.
Collaborative space- is the pendulum starting to swing back?
I think collaborative space depends on what type of business you are in. Not everyone can do an open office. Some business types, or certain departments, might be well-suited for open office with heads down, headphones, sound masking, but you need to figure out what makes sense. We might also create a mix of open and closed offices so that there is flexibility for employees. Our work is about tailoring the remodel to the needs and wants of the client and improving upon their space situation.
Generations. Millennials. Do people still talk about it in meetings?
I don’t hear those buzz words as much compared to two years ago. We have had a variety of clients that are looking at how to appeal to new talent, retain their existing employees, and how their work has changed. We are helping clients work through those needs and create a new office plan. It isn’t always easy to do with numerous departments, office needs, and budgets but this is what we love to do. Many of our clients want spaces to work and relax in different settings such as hoteling, work cafés, and enclaves. People appreciate being able to sit in a lounge or work at a community stand-up desk for a change of pace.
What’s your perfect job?
One without a budget! I do love taking an office environment, getting to know our clients and learning how they work, and then interacting with their coworkers, vendors, and clients to create a new and improved office for them to achieve their goals. Some of the personal touches we add give employees an environment that will help them succeed in their job; seeing that evolution makes you want to work hard for them.
The best lesson you learned from the field?
When I worked in the field, I remember this particular story. I was trimming out a window. The foreman showed me how to do it and said he would only show me once. I remember thinking of how I needed to know how to do it, and how important it was that it was done right. That experience reminds me of why our building plan details are so crucial to the field.
Which famous person would you like to interview or meet?
I would have loved to have known Chris Farley. He is just funny to me, and I like to use comedy as a release.
How do you work with other departments at Iconica?
We are all on the same team, so it doesn’t feel like there are separate departments. Instead, we have teams that want to put out the best product they can.
Best advice your mother or father gave you?
Marry a farm girl! (Yes, my wife is from a dairy farm.)
Do you have a design idol?
Frank Lloyd Wright
What are some of the benefits of working at Iconica as an architect?
I get to work with people that have in-depth knowledge of how a building goes together and runs efficiently. Together we can create amazing projects.