30 Years and Counting…

Architectural design is my life. 30 years ago, on Valentine’s Day 1982, that Dwain Lutzow and I formed Dahlquist and Lutzow Architects. I was confident at the time, and remain confident to this day, that I made the right decision.

Dwain and I have known each other since we played Little League baseball together on the northwest side of Chicago, but our partnership started with just the 2 of us working in the basement of my house in Elgin. Soon after, Sandy Warren, our Office Manager, came on board. She has been with us from nearly the beginning and has seen us grow and change, while at the same time maintaining our ideals. Through careful planning we’ve grown over the years, and today we have 8 partners and boast a staff of 33.

In 1983, while sitting in the Café du Monde in New Orleans, I wrote my vision for the future of the firm. The following were my expectations:

  • Produce high quality architectural design.

    Our team is what makes this possible. We have a great group of smart, talented professionals and we nurture them with a dynamic continuing education program.

  • Be well-respected by my architectural design peers and the community both individually and as a firm.

    I like to think that the long-standing relationships we have with our clients and professional colleagues are a testament to the trust and value they place in our affiliations. That said, it’s always an honor to receive public recognition in the form of awards and accolades. One of my favorite moments was when DLA was named the Distinguished Architectural Firm of the Year in the State of Illinois by AIA Illinois, a Council of the American Institute of Architects.

  • Be involved and work intimately on architectural design projects.

    I have always had a passion for the art of architecture and have been able to remain both engaged and creative.

  • Maintain a “family feeling” to the firm.

    I like to think that the personality of our leadership team makes this possible, even though we’ve grown to nearly three dozen people. My partners and I all have a high regard for the individuals we work with and we enjoy being with them. It’s unusual for more than a couple weeks to go by without some sort of casual get-together.

  • Continue to learn and not stagnate.

    Another passion of mine is education. If I weren’t practicing architectural design today, I’d be teaching. I truly believe that we’re all lifelong learners and we’ve developed a continuing education program here at the firm to make it accessible to everyone on our staff.

  • Find the time for research, teaching and writing.

    I have been able to do all three, including receiving a Those Who Excel Award from the Illinois State Board of Education. It’s an honor to be able to both expand and share my knowledge.

  • While my firm and career expands, not to let my ego take over my successes.

    I would never want to be accused of being pompous and demeaning. If my ego starts to rear its ugly head, my partners ground me and bring me back to earth.

  • Provide a high quality work space.

    We’ve met this goal by adapting our spaces as we’ve grown. From the basement, we designed an office building. When we outgrew that space, we created another and so on. Our current space is incredible, designed for collaboration. It’s even LEED certified.

  • Inspire high quality designs.

    The quality of our designs is reflective of our attention to detail, and our clients repeatedly comment on our ability to communicate and listen with the end result being a solution that truly reflects their needs. We’ve also developed and mentored a team that is visionary. DLA has been on the cutting edge of LEED/Green and Sustainable Design, with a variety of great projects in our portfolio. Having designed schools from nearly the beginning, we know education. We’ve worked to incorporate the principles behind 21st Century Learning into the design of our educational facilities. This expertise was recently recognized when Building Design + Construction named DLA as One of the Nation’s Top 25 K-12 Design Firms.

As I reflect on the past 30 years, I have matured in the practice of architecture, and so has DLA. I am confident that DLA is firmly positioned to celebrate its next 30th anniversary!