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Reflecting Back: Michael Blake

May 10th, 2017 by

Marks, Thomas Architects 50th Anniversary

If you read through my fellow partners’ posts over the past two months you’ll notice some common themes as they reflect on their experiences at Marks, Thomas…smart, creative and talented people to work with, exceptional projects, and doing great work for our clients; all of which are true in spades.  If I tried to cite all my experiences over the past 20+ years at Marks, Thomas I would diverge off into so many directions that I’d never be able to complete it.  I too have many stories about great people, great projects, and great friends during my time at Marks, Thomas, so if you want to hear about them please invite me to have a beer somewhere and I’ll be happy to share.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to craft a long and successful career for a good portion of Marks, Thomas’ first fifty years.  So rather than recall specific memories, I’d like to share some of the prevailing characteristics I feel have allowed our firm to be in business for so long and why it’s a special firm to establish a career with.

Reviewing drawings, 2007. 

Find a mentor

Over the years I’ve found many individuals at Marks Thomas willing to provide guidance and council. All I had to do was ask.  Marks, Thomas has always, and continues to have, a culture of very helpful individuals who will go out of their way to provide whatever type of support is needed.  The range of talent, skill and perspective allows for mentor-protégé relationships of all types.   Finding someone that does something well and observe how they do it, allows one to learn a lot, and a lot more quickly. This has been key to the long term success of the firm and its employees.

If you show some initiative and look for opportunities they will be open to you

We believe that one’s career will be much more rewarding and eventful if you actively seek what you are looking for.  We have always been open to individuals taking initiative, challenging themselves to work beyond their comfort zone, and not wait for things to come to them.  I know from firsthand experience that those who do will have opportunities open up to them and be challenged with a diversity of responsibilities that will propel them further in their career. 

Marks, Thomas Holiday Party, 2012. 

Work hard play hard

We are a firm that takes our work seriously but allows for social outlets, whether formal or informal.  The interesting thing that has happened over the years is a unique balance of traditions as well as new activities.  The all-day, end of summer, sailing trip on the Chesapeake and holiday office party at the Warf Rat were the familiar traditions of the day in my early years with the firm.  When the office moved from Charles Village to Key Highway, Happy Hours at Little Havana became the norm on Fridays after work.  Spring outings to a day game at Camden Yards as well as our yearly Softball team which plays against the other architectural firms have also continued on as part of the Marks, Thomas tradition.  Throughout the year there are always volunteer opportunities organized by staff in support of something they are passionate about.  This nod to past traditions along with an openness to establish new ones has kept the firm grounded while fresh and exiting at the same time.

Marks, Thomas office outing to O’s game, 2007. 

A career in architecture can have many trajectories and numerous influences.  Working for a firm that genuinely allows its employees to craft their own career is a major contributor to the longevity of the firm and success of its people.

50 years in business is a long time…so let’s celebrate!

On-site at SEED School of MD, 2010.