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Staff: Newer designer, firm veteran both on mission to serve clients

A long-established principal of CNH Architects and a newer arrival both labor to support client needs and desires, offering their expertise in multiple ways.

Kelly Hanson joined CNH as an architectural designer last summer after graduating with a five-year professional Bachelor of Architecture degree from Iowa State University. She is also LEED Green Associate, and is passionate about both the sustainable and artistic aspects of architecture.

“I wanted to get my hands dirty and work on things that are challenging,” she said. Hanson works closely with veteran architect and CNH Principal Quinn Hutson, who joined the firm in 1986.

“One of the things I enjoy, especially in the last 15 years as my role has changed in the firm, is mentoring others,” said Hutson. This involves the way projects are approached, understanding each person’s strengths and weaknesses and overall professional development, he explains.

Eager to learn, Hanson, a native of Eagan, has worked on day care buildings and other projects with Hutson. She said the smaller firm environment offered a better opportunity to get to know coworkers and grow professionally.

Hutson has worked with far more than 100 contractors and clients through the years, and brings a solid attention to detail. A professional architect, he is LEED Accredited and is also a certified interior designer. Hutson leads teams and enjoys the people aspects of the process, figuring out each client’s needs and desires and working toward a design solution that maximizes the building’s potential to meet the client’s goals.

It’s important, he said, to focus on each of the different elements with a project – the aesthetic and functional design, cost-efficiency, constructability and timeline. “You look at the project and  balance these important things each step of the way, which isn’t necessarily a given working in our field.”

Hutson led the way in CNH’s push to become an early adopter of emerging technologies. This started in the early 1990s. His interest and follow through with new technology helped CNH to take on projects that likely would have gone to larger firms, he explains.

CNH Principal Quinn Hutson
Quinn Hutson

There’s an intentional goal at CNH that each project leader follow the work all the way through, from beginning to end, the firm principal said. This thinking fits the company’s values of customer-focused service coupled with innovation and creative design.

Clients often don’t speak in architectural terms and reflect many different perspectives, Hutson said. The ability to grasp where someone’s comments are coming from in terms of their goals is key to having a successful and productive project.

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