Dellwood Country Club

Written on 17 Mar 2016 by  / Published in Blog

Working out of the back of his house for a year or so, Mower’s first project was a small, single-family home in Chippewa Falls, Wis. The start of this first project helped Mower to develop a sense of what architecture, the form and the function of it, comprises. “Architecture means a whole lot of stuff,” he says. “Not only the artistic parts, but you also need to mix in the technical parts of structural and mechanical engineering along with ‘Mr. Budget.’ That guy is always on our mind.”

After the successful completion of this home, he worked from the same building in St. Paul for over 15 years.

It was there that he started to grow his list of clients and projects, which include medical and dental offices, restaurants, retail buildings, commercial warehouses, offices and residential homes. Looking for a change and to boost staff morale, Mower then moved his offices to White Bear Lake in 2010.

Progressive Architecture has always been a small boutique company, and the team takes pride in the fact that they have their own full-time interior designer. They also like to collaborate with other architectural firms and use other designers. The inspiration and process of designing a building, says Mower, is the act of collaboration and creating positive energy. And, like many arts, it is an organic process that evolves and morphs over time.

“Some of us at the office like to use images for our inspiration,” Mower says. “But many times I get an idea in my head and then try to translate it to paper. Most of the projects evolve or improve as they develop, and then the fun part of the process is when we start to collaborate and feed off each other. Sometimes that means our designer will throw out an idea on material to use or our clients will have input that sends me in a slightly different and stronger direction.”

With the firm going strong for more than 25 years, Mower has developed a designing philosophy that is simple and to the point: Give the client more than they expect. But don’t let this simple philosophy fool you; there is a lot of time and effort put forth into each project. “Most of the time it is a process of analyzing the parameters involved, coming up with several different ideas and then moving ahead with one of those, revising it, improving it and making it stronger,” Mower says. “We try to give the client as much design input as the project warrants, while also addressing the details of how materials and elements join together. Many times the design budget does not allow for this part of the development of the project to mature.”

Mower and his team have helped design Manitou Station, Cedarwood Professional Building, Grandma’s Bakery, the pool area at Dellwood Country Club, to name a few.

Jake McKeague and Brian Farrell, co-owners of Manitou Station, used Mower and his team to bring to life their popular eatery, pub and event center with a distinctly Irish feel. McKeague and Farrell conferred with Mower on how to make the interior space feel as if it could have been plucked from a pub in the Irish countryside.

“Progressive helped bring our project together in general by working with us and advising us on code compliance, structural specifics, and helping us get an overall idea of what the building would actually look like once completed; essentially bringing to life what was in our heads and making it better,” says McKeague. “The building turned out beautiful and we still receive compliments on the look and design of the structure.”

The most rewarding part of owning a small company for Mower, though, is the opportunity to kick his creativity into high gear. “I’ve always loved designing the buildings as a whole, and coming up with the form,” Mower says. “But it has morphed over to playing with materials and building stuff. I have done many furniture projects around the house and the office. Recently, I purchased welding equipment and a plasma cutter and the forms I am coming up with are starting to be fun. But don’t look too close—at this point I am better with the grinder [fixing the welds] than the welder itself.”

Reprinted with permission of White Bear Lake magazine. ©2016, all rights reserved. Any reproduction of this document is strictly prohibited. For reprints call 612.548.3466.

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