TVA’s principals featured in the Architecture Foundation of Oregon’s Member Spotlight.

Claire Blaylock, AFO Executive Director


Member Spotlight

TVA Architects

Founded in 1984, TVA Architects is a Portland-based firm of 38 architects, designers, and staff. TVA is currently engaged in a thoughtful expansion plan, allowing the firm to provide consistent and dependable ownership and firm stability far into the future. The principal group includes founding principal Robert Thompson, FAIA; Tim Wybenga, LEED AP; Pam Saftler, AIA, IIDA; and Mandy Butler, RA, AIA, NCARB.

Does each principal have an area of interest/focus?

Pam Saftler, AIA, IIDA: Of course! We each have unique talents and specific knowledge gained from long careers in this industry. And through those experiences, we each have found different market sectors that really resonate with us. Mandy knows healthcare and lab planning inside and out. Her insight, compassion and authentic desire to change people’s lives can be seen in everything that she does. My passion for adaptive reuse stems from the knowledge that limited resources and energy are lost when we demolish old buildings for new. Tim attributes his success working in developer-driven markets to a client-first perspective. Bob has worked in practically every market sector and continues to find his greatest joy in creating meaningful architecture from high rise towers to corporate campuses to major athletic venues.

Explain how you are handling transitions within the firm, and how this has changed the way you do business.

Tim Wybenga, LEED AP: We have been on a leadership expansion course for a number of years and the current four principals have been working as a unit since 2014. We have learned to operate as actual partners, each with an equal voice and a unique perspective. We have made a concerted effort to spread the responsibilities for day-to-day management of the firm between the four of us. The fact that we continue to work on evolution and expansion rather than ‘transition’ of the firm has been key to our ability to diversify while maintaining the integrity and quality of the firm’s portfolio. It also helps that we like each other and love what we do—there’s really no firm structure that can replace that as a factor for the quality of life or the quality of our work.

Robert Thompson, FAIA: Since our inception our success has been driven by strong leadership committed to executing our work at the highest level. From design to project delivery, our driving goal has been focused on exceeding at every level our clients’ expectations no matter the scale or the project budget. This level of commitment has proven out for us in that 70% of our business comes through long term ongoing relationships with our clients. As a group of four, we share firm responsibilities through meaningful internal collaboration focused on continually seeking ways to perfect our business through enhanced design, project management and expanding our markets.

What are some challenges you are facing as a firm and how are you meeting them?

Mandy Butler, RA, AIA, NCARB: Everyone in our AEC community faces similar challenges, particularly how to do more with less, specifically less time and money while still delivering an excellent product through a positive process. We pride ourselves on providing thoughtful solutions to every design challenge. We also work to leverage technology to reduce time spent on repetitive, non-architectural tasks, allowing us to shift that time to improving design and quality. We know that our success depends on how well we function as a team. We don’t shy away from sharing our thoughts, even when we have conflict because we have respect for each other and know that we’re all working toward the same goal.