Christopher Goode of Goode Van Slyke Architecture (http://www.gvsa.com/) is on the brink of profound change in his work life and he is elated.
Goode’s Atlanta-based, majority African American-owned firm is one of three selected by lead architect Kansas City-based 360 Architecture to partner in the design of the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium.
For 17 years he and his partner, Paul K. Van Slyke, have quietly built a solid portfolio of excellent designs including schools, arts facilities (the DeKalb County Performing Arts Center), museums, residences (Tyler Perry’s home), health care centers, and sports facilities, among many others.
Their work has paid off with this superb opportunity.
Their selection is the result of having partnered with 360 Architecture successfully on other projects. It is also a reflection of past work they have done in the Vine City community near the stadium on planning issues where they built strong relationships with community leaders, Goode believes.
“I keep pinching myself,” Goode says with a wide grin. “We are so excited.”
When describing the Stadium’s basic design, which was approved by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority board last week, Goode uses multiple superlatives: “Awesome,” he says. “Magnificent. Significant.”
“Experts have said that it may be considered one of America’s best stadiums, if not the world’s,” he adds.
“We certainly believe it will be one of Atlanta’s most important visual attractions.”
Their role in turning the design into reality is “exactly on target where we thought we could help.” He knows that their involvement will mean expanded staff and higher visibility for his firm on the national stage. “It’s all good,” he notes.
This work is the dream of a lifetime for design-oriented architects, Goode says. And, at age 55, he has been building toward it from childhood. “I knew in elementary school that I wanted to be an architect,” he recalls. “My parents were supportive, even though they knew that there were not many successful African American role models in the field.”
He consistently entered local and state mechanical drawing and design competitions through elementary and high school, envisioning houses and buildings that won awards for him. After attending North Carolina State and the University of California at Berkeley, he went to work for major firms in Atlanta, gaining insights and expertise from each. It was a strategic progression.
“I knew that eventually I wanted to have my own company, but I needed to absorb all I could from the successful architects in major firms first.” This is a course of action that he recommends for all young men and women who hope to run their own businesses. “Learn from the best first. Then go out on your own when you have built a strong portfolio of skills and experience.”
Goode genuinely enjoys helping young people who might consider a career in architecture. The firm currently has a mentoring relationship with Hightower Elementary School. They welcome interns every year. He encourages young potential architects to heighten their creative design instincts, but notes that there are plenty of opportunities in the field that don’t require that special spark.
No two architectural firms are the same, he notes, that’s why there are firms that specialize in different areas of the profession. “To be a good design-oriented firm, however, you have to have, at the core, creativity and an artistic bent,” he says, “You need to be able to stretch the imagination and visualize the extraordinary.”
Then, he adds, you have to know how to build it.