Spotlight on Specialties: Business Sense

Margaret Hood, Principal, joined Baskervill in 1985.

Principal Margaret Hood exists behind the scenes—you won’t see her at a site visit or a project kick-off meeting. And yet, with her razor-sharp expertise in the business side of the firm and a genuine passion for purpose-driven spaces, she’s a secret weapon that keeps everything Baskervill does humming.

Since joining Baskervill in 1985, Margaret has watched the art of architecture evolve—meticulously hand-drawn plans are now detailed digital assets. With new tools and clients with big dreams, design firms can deliver like never before; to do what’s right for clients takes a supreme understanding of the codes, regulations and risks inherent with each project.

How’d you land at Baskervill?
When I was a freshman in college, I told my counselor I wanted to be an architect. I remember that counselor telling me more about the ins and out of the job. It was then I realized the day-to-day realities of the profession weren’t the best fit for me—even though I was, and continue to be, quite passionate about architecture and design. Instead, I majored in economics and went on to paralegal school. Later, I landed a job as a corporate paralegal at Hunt & Williams. That’s where I met Bruce Tyler and was introduced to other firm leaders. At the time the firm needed an office manager. How could I turn down an opportunity that intersected so well with my passions and strengths? The rest is history.

How have your roles and responsibilities at the firm changed over time?
I started as a generalist—a one-stop-shop for many HR, administrative and IT needs. The firm was much smaller then! I took care of executive meeting minutes, reviewed contracts, managed office supplies and even fixed machines! After I completed my MBA from William and Mary, I took on more. Contracts and other legal documents might sound technical and lifeless, but they’re also where I learn about our clients—how their businesses function and what their top concerns are. How I structure our contracts and invoices is a direct reflection of what I’ve learned; clear ground rules that set expectations for everyone involved in a project without limiting creativity are key.

Margaret Sidebar_031417

What’s the most important thing for clients to understand about what you do?
Architecture is not a commodity. If you think about everything that goes into a building—from the windows and doors down to the literal nuts and bolts and beyond—it’s amazing how many elements must come together to make something in which people can exist. There are many minds and skill sets collaborating to bring it all to fruition. That’s why I take the time to explain to clients how responsibility and accountability is shared throughout a project. A set of drawings, for example, are really descriptors of what the architectural service is. As the architect and contractor and other project team members work together in construction, it’s their blended perspectives that allow teams to maintain high-quality work. Shared respect and equal motivation is at the heart of those critical moments. In many ways, initial contract documents and team discussions play a huge role in setting up projects for long-term success.

What’s your favorite thing about how Baskervill has evolved over the years?
It’s really been interesting to watch the firm grow from 25 people to 35, then to 70—and now we’re well over a hundred people. In the 80s and early 90s, there was a more structured focus on how work was done across the industry. Now, with the world at our fingertips, I think people realize that their free time and what they do outside work matters, because they bring back new ideas and refreshing creativity. I see people taking new and exciting approaches to how they work through projects—injecting lessons learned and unique life experiences into the designs. I hope we continue to become more diverse, so we get more perspectives to enrich how we see the world of possibilities within every project.

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