Roger P. Smith, president and principal architect of BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers in Patchogue, has been winning bids to design public buildings and schools for decades.
During the slow economy, projects stalled, but now he says he's seeing signs of progress. BBS has at least $250 million worth of projects in the works, including a 60,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building at Suffolk County Community College's Ammerman campus in Selden.
Since 2000, the company has designed about half of all educational projects for kindergarten through 12th grade on Long Island, Smith said. Before heading full-time into architecture, he was a professor at the New York Institute of Technology. Smith, 57, also served as chairman for the state Building Code Board of Review for 14 years.
What are the frustrations of doing a public project?
There is a bulky process in how you bid it and the requirements of constructing it. It's not a private project, so it goes through a public cycle, and we are therefore shepherds and keepers of the public funds ... The staff of the municipality can change, and you almost have to re-educate them as to why they're doing it.
What are advantages to public projects?
If you do private projects, you can never really get back in them ... but I can go into Sacred Heart Church anytime I want and see it and still reflect on it. If I'm designing a church, it's for the entire congregation. If I'm designing a school, it's for every little kid in that community.
What's the key to designing that winning bid?
You have to present a project that is exciting, tangible, constructible. Your drawings are the way the marketplace values you and grades you. Just playing architect is one thing, but a really good architect gets things built.
What signs of improvement do you see in Long Island's economy?
Bond referendums are being passed by the taxpayers after a few years of a downturn. Now, there's a pent-up demand ... We passed five bond referendums in the past three months, which enables municipalities to fund capital construction.
What are your best school-design memories?
Standing back and watching the little third-graders when they come into the cafeteria for the first time. It's almost like watching a cartoon. They all bang into each other, one behind the other, because the two in the front stop dead and say "Wow!" You can't trade that for anything.
NAME: Roger P. Smith, president and principal architect, BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers in Patchogue
WHAT IT DOES: BBS is a designer of physical environments for kindergarten through 12th grade and higher-education clients, public libraries, athletic facilities, hotels, exhibit and convention centers, restaurants and catering facilities, religious and worship institutions, corporations, retail outlets, and not-for-profit organizations. It is also a regional designer of sustainable institutional and educational facilities.
ROLES THEY PLAY: Architects; interior designers; landscape architects; planners; mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and civil engineers; sustainable-design architects and engineers; project managers; construction administrators; estimators; marketing specialists; support staff.
REVENUE: $7 million to $8 million