It’s time to take a new look at this seasoned design firm. OLSON LEWIS + Architects opened its doors over 32 years ago. Since its founding, this North Shore architectural, planning and interior design firm has gone through several phases of growth and change. For the past several years, it conducted business under the full name Olson Lewis Dioli & Doktor Architects & Planners. Recently, after reviewing its mission and identity, the firm embraced a contemporary interpretation of their original business name. They’re now rebranded as OLSON LEWIS + Architects.
Â The firm has also updated its website and other communication materials, including its logo. This new name and logo honor the company’s traditional roots, but also add a stylized “plus” symbol for “more.”Â The “more” reflects expanded services to a wider range of clients (homes, schools, commercial, biotech, hospitality and healthcare), innovative and responsive design aesthetics, growth in professional staff, and leadership in long-term industry trends such as sustainability and other movements that affect the future of architectural design and planning.
Honoring Tradition: Olson Lewis and a Classical Architectural Logo
Originally a sole practice in John Olson’s home, the firm quickly grew into a collaboration between the two Harvard alumni. “I had a major project that generated more work than I could handle alone. I asked Randy Lewis if he wanted to join me. The rest is history,” recalls Olson. The firm operated under the name Olson Lewis for almost two decades.
As they took on new partners, the business title eventually expanded to Olson Lewis Dioli & Doktor Architects (OLD&D), acknowledging the respective contributions of two newer principles: Arthur Dioli and Christopher Doktor. Like many businesses operating with extended formal titles, the firm often used its initials: OLD&D.
And yet, people continued to abbreviate the firm’s name. “To this day, our clients often refer to us as Olson Lewis. That was our name 30 years ago,” says founder John Olson. Adds his partner H. Randolph Lewis, “Although we changed the company’s name over time, many clients continued to shorten it. We’re listening to the wisdom of that habit.” Rather than struggling to remind clients of the firm’s extended business name, they responded by re-interpreting its original company name.
Until now, the firm also used a logo first developed over 30 years ago. It was a hand-drawn column capital. “Our original logo was inspired from one of our projects which was the Charrette New Haven Pediment,” reflects Lewis. “Like the name, it stuck.” Though the business name has expanded over the past several decades, the logo remained constant until this year.
Looking Ahead: Plus
Everyone asks whether Dioli and Doktor, the partners whose names aren’t spelled out anymore, are staying with the firm. “Absolutely,” confirms Doktor. “We helped guide this process, and we’re an integral part of the firm’s future.” Adds Dioli, “We’re the plus in the re-interpreted name. It symbolizes our presence at the heart of the firm, but gives us room to pursue new directions.”
Within the name OLSON LEWIS + Architects marks a forward-looking and streamlined approach to aesthetics and design. It also represents the firm’s full complement of professional partners and staff, as well as a comprehensive spectrum of design services. It expresses connection to future paths of professional growth and client service.
As the firm enters its fourth decade of practice, its leadership team now offers expertise in more disciplines: biotech, commercial, hospitality, education, healthcare, and residential design. It includes a fifth partner, Bill Mead, and remains one of the largest firms north of Boston, with a staff of 20 people. Its in-house services include architectural design, master planning and interior design. It maintains cutting-edge training in essential trends such as sustainable design, including LEED certification and design implementation.
Combining the Past and the Future
The new name and logo serve as cues about the firm’s re-defined identity and mission. In addition to the name OLSON LEWIS + Architects, they translated the firm’s original hand-drawn logo into a more colorful, stylized version of a column’s capital. The vivid logo balances classical vocabulary with a contemporary and iconic design approach. The new logo and name both preserve traditional components of the company’s identity, but adapted to a forward-looking palette and style.
Says partner Art Dioli, “In many ways, this name and logo are an extension of our firm’s culture. We’ve always used a balance of classical approaches and cutting-edge practices.” For example, projects often start by sketching on tracing paper, followed by design exploration with computer-based technology. The methodologies of the partners and their staff are complementary.
The firm has always designed responsively, with respect for tradition. Developing a revised identity proved to be just that kind of challenge. “Rebranding the company by using the familiar name and logo, in new ways, is a great example of a sustainable design,” says Chris Doktor, “It preserves and adapts the most enduring part of our past, then applies new ideas to its use and meaning.”Â Looking at the company’s existing frame of reference, the firm worked with consultants to create a contextual solution.Â
Located in centuries-old Manchester-by-the-Sea and Ipswich, Massachusetts, OLSON LEWIS + Architects is a full service, multi-discipline architectural firm with a collaborative design process. For 32 years, their award-winning work has taken root in the landscape of New England and other regions of the United States, as well as international locales. Responding to each project’s location and setting, the firm is known for creating culturally and ecologically sensitive design solutions. Their in-house teams focus on specific disciplines: biotechnology, commercial, hospitality, healthcare, education, and residential.
To learn more about OLSON LEWIS + Architects, visit the new website: Â www.olsonlewis.com.