September 9, 2020

Building a Better Business

“Many architects are theory-focused and they tell clients what something should look like. Eos Studio Architecture has a different take. We try to problem-solve and think about what a client needs and how we can get them there,” says Lisa Whitney.

Many architects are theory-focused and they tell clients what something should look like. Eos Studio Architecture has a different take. We try to problem-solve and think about what a client needs and how we can get them there,” says Lisa Whitney.

Eos Studio Arc is a small architecture firm based in Swissvale, Pa. The owner, Lisa Whitney, works with her team of four to design residential projects, new construction housing, and commercial spaces. When Lisa works with her clients (who are primarily small business owners, homeowners, and developers), she cares about understanding their needs and desires in order to find creative solutions for their vision.

Photo courtesy of Eos Studio Arc.

Lisa meets her clients at their commercial or residential space to discuss the client’s plan and unpack the conditions and zoning codes that are in play. Then, Eos Studio Arc supplies a proposal with ideas for the client and cost of their services. If the proposal is accepted, Lisa’s team will begin their services with a thorough survey of the site’s existing conditions. During COVID-19, Lisa continues to meet with her clients on site while wearing masks and social distancing. Meetings with Eos Studio Arc are also available via Google Meet or phone.

Some of Eos Studio Arc’s recent projects include a daycare, brewery and distillery, beer distributor, and bakery. For Pastries-A-La-Carte in Pleasant Hills, Eos Studio Arc designed an addition—a first floor with an expanded sales floor, a loading dock, and a second floor office.

Pastries-A-La-Carte renovation in Pleasant Hills, PA. Photo courtesy of Eos Studio Arc.

As a Pittsburgh native with expertise in architectural history, Lisa also specializes in designing and renovating city homes. After many years, Lisa is also a pro at navigating Pittsburgh’s vexing permit process.

Lisa’s full time teaching job prompted her to start Eos Studio Arc in 2010 as a way to stay active in the architecture industry. Her business gained traction as she developed relationships with contractors, residential developers, and clients. In 2015, Lisa stepped into her business full time and hired a part-time employee.  

As Eos Studio grew, Lisa expanded and diversified her team with different experts. One employee is an expert in Pennsylvania’s building, zoning, and billing codes and attends an annual conference to remain up-to-date with state regulations. Another employee is an interior designer who can select interior finishes for clients’ homes and commercial spaces. Through the staff’s range of expertise, safety, beauty, and functionality seamlessly interweave in all of Eos Studio Arc’s designs.

Business skills were not a part of Lisa’s architectural education, and so she sought other resources and peer support. When she joined the Green Tree peer group in the summer of 2019, the conversations in Lisa’s peer group encouraged her to consider new ways to run her business.

When you run a business for so long, it doesn’t occur to you that you should look at your fee structure differently. So, it’s not until somebody else begins a conversation about it and you think, ‘Actually, this way would work better for me’.

Lisa Whitney (center) meeting with her Green Tree peer group before COVID-19. Stacey Barlow-Hill (left) and Andrea Rush (right) are also present.

And, when Lisa was having issues with staffing, her peer group members provided outside perspectives and held Lisa accountable for making necessary changes.

I had staffing issues that kept happening over and over again, and I couldn’t figure out how to resolve them. My peer group pointed out that I was doing something that caused the issue. They told me how to fix it and held me accountable. I learned that it was better to fix the issue because I couldn’t go back to another meeting and say that I was still doing something that we all knew wasn’t working for my business.

Lisa and her team are still meeting with clients at their comfort level. To begin your residential or commercial project in western Pennsylvania, email Eos Studio Arc at info@eos-studioarc.com or call 412-342-8338.

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