Contract - Legend Award Recipient: Vision Quest

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Legend Award Recipient: Vision Quest

31 January, 2011

-By Jean Nayar


If you ask anyone who has worked closely with Eva Maddox what her most salient qualities are, you’re likely to hear phrases like “unassuming,” “good listener,” “team player,” and “Southern lady.” But none of these adjectives really offers a clear clue about the inner workings and vision that have enabled this talented designer to amass an incredibly vast body of accomplishments over the course of her diverse and illustrious career. You wouldn’t know, for example, that this unassuming Southern lady has designed millions of square feet of office, showroom, healthcare, museum, and institutional space nationally and internationally; has garnered more than 100 awards for her work; or has founded an innovative design graduate school in inner city Chicago that serves as a model for community and social development. Nor would you necessarily imagine that this team-playing good listener frequently lectures at universities and institutions around the globe, serves on the boards of numerous institutions, and was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the “change agents…designers and dreamers who are creating your future.”

Yet, in the view of her colleagues and friends, these understated character traits rank high among the attributes that have enabled Maddox to successfully launch her own business, nimbly navigate a complex and ever-evolving industry, break through the glass ceiling, effectively mentor future generations of designers, and work with a broad range of clients to reshape the face of commercial design. In her research-driven, interdisciplinary approach to design, Maddox’s mission in working with her clients, she says, has been to “change the trajectory of thinking,” design holistic, future-oriented environments, and clearly express the value of design through its ability to improve lives, enhance business processes, hone identities, and contribute to the bottom line.

Maddox’s design journey began in Viola, Tenn., where her mother, who was a high school advisor at the time, assessed her daughter’s talents and inclinations and urged her to attend the University of Cincinnati. Maddox and her mother could see that its top-rated College of Design, Art, and Architecture & Planning program, which emphasized both theory and practice, would enable her to leverage her problem-solving and math skills with her creative interests, while giving her the experience she needed to thrive in the workplace. Maddox says her mother told her: “When you graduate, you will have a job.” The wisdom of her mother’s guidance continues to affect the designer to this day. Maddox sees the University’s interdisciplinary education program as the pivotal starting point for the adaptive and integrative approach she uses to solve design problems in her current practice. And since she graduated in 1966, a relationship of reciprocal loyalty and respect has emerged between the designer and her alma mater, which over the years has enlisted her to design the entrance hall and exhibition space of a significant new building on its campus, invited her to join its foundation board of trustees, and awarded her with an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree.

After Maddox left the University of Cincinnati, her skills as a communicator and manager were tested and cultivated during the years she worked as a designer for a couple of mid-size Ohio-based firms, including Space Design in Cincinnati, where she collaborated on projects for banks and corporate clients. When her husband Lynn Maddox moved to Indiana to attend graduate school, Maddox joined him there, opening an Indiana office for Space Design and developing her entrepreneurial instincts. In 1970, she moved to Chicago, where she signed on as a project director at Richmond, Manhoff + Marsh, which was then one of the city’s largest interiors firms, and did interiors work for several of Chicago’s major high-rises. It was at this time that the concept of space planning was beginning to emerge, and Maddox was able to put her ideas into effect on larger projects. “Before then, if you were to say you were a space planner, someone would have thought you were from outer space,” says Maddox. “It wasn’t just a matter of furnishing office space; it was a matter of planning it—sometimes the planning was elaborate, sometimes it was basic, but it was definitely a new day.”

eva phoneIn 1975, she set off on her own and launched Eva Maddox Associates, where one of her company’s first projects was for Polygram Corporation. (Shown left is Eva Maddox in her office in 2004; photo by Chris Barrett © Hedrich Blessing.) In designing distinct offices for its many labels, she had an early opportunity to develop the branded work for which she is known today. Her objective, she says, was to “hone the identity of the company with design that represented the personality of its constituency—if you were an artist and you saw your picture on the wall, you’d feel important.” The idea, she explains, “was to communicate through design to our client’s clients—the artists.” The concept resonated, and later work she did for the company’s New York headquarters led to other national opportunities for a wide range of projects in different arenas, including the New York and Midwest Stock Exchanges, the Option Clearing Corporation, The Healthcare Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Northwestern University’s Allen Center, among many others.

A turning point in her career occurred when Beverly Russell, then the editor in chief of Interiors magazine, noticed a showroom she designed for MDC Wallcoverings and published the project. Later, Stanley Abercrombie, then the editor of Interior Design magazine, published another project. The media coverage, says Maddox, “really picked up my work and helped build my career—I’m very indebted to both of them.” A series of showroom projects that followed gave her the insight she needed to hone her ideas on the notion of branded environments, which she is credited with originating and has become the hallmark of her design approach.

Among Maddox’s more notable branding success stories are the headquarters and showroom spaces she recently has designed for Haworth, which have earned numerous design awards and have been instrumental in complementing a company-wide strategic shift in its business approach. When Franco Bianchi, Haworth’s CEO, joined the company nine years ago, Haworth was focused on excellence in engineering, which continues to be integral to its products. But to move the company forward, Bianchi envisioned a stronger design foundation that the company intended to carry through to its facilities—from its headquarters in Holland, Mich., to its showrooms in various parts of the country. “I love art and design, but to take a company to a new level, we needed to transform design into a tool that would allow us to be successful and be more profitable,” says Bianchi. “The spaces Eva created for us make our solutions more clearly accessible and more impactful. They have been a part of an overall change in the management of the company that has brought us to a good place.” Haworth’s chairman, Dick Haworth, credits the new spaces with strengthening the company’s competitiveness, too. “Our new brand and image position has made it possible for us to compete in a larger market,” he says. “It was a team effort, and Eva played a key role in getting us there. She’s got an unwavering commitment to excellence, and she never gives up until the result is superb.”

One of the people who recognized the value of Maddox’s notions on branded environments early on is John Lijewski, the former senior vice president and interior design executive for Bank of America. “When I joined Bank of America, the first order of the day was to take a look at our corporate office environment and develop a workplace that would reflect the core values of the firm,” explains Lijewski, who has known Maddox for 20 years and was a partner at Perkins + Will before joining Bank of America. He hired Maddox to design the brand standard for the bank’s corporate administrative spaces, which has since rolled out in more than 8 million sq. ft. of office area across the country. “The branding themes she helped us create parallel a series of initiatives in the company, including sponsorship initiatives for cultural events, sports programs, community development and environmental initiatives, supplier diversity programs, and charitable giving,” he says. “I’ve always looked to her as a thought leader, who knows how to make people understand that good design is good business. She also has become a pioneer in this male-dominated profession and has gone toe-to-toe with the best black-cape architects in the country.”

The value of her branded environments philosophy—with its emphasis on design as an integral part of business strategy—wasn’t lost on other leaders of Perkins+Will either. Seeing the potential for a mutually beneficial alliance, the international design giant founded in Chicago acquired Maddox’s practice in 2002. Renamed Perkins+Will | Eva Maddox Branded Environments, Maddox’s group now functions as a complementary design discipline of Perkins + Will. “Eva’s view of design, not as a commodity, but as a transformative strategic asset has had an infectious effect on the rest of the company,” says Phil Harrison, CEO, Perkins + Will, who adds that the designer’s eye toward the future continually has enabled her to adapt her practice to remain relevant in the present. “When you look at the whole notion of today’s social entrepreneur, her comprehensive approach—which takes into account the social impact of design—takes on a relevance that is becoming more apropos than ever before.”

Eileen Jones, Maddox’s long-time business partner and a global brand leader at Perkins + Will, expresses a similar appreciation for her colleague’s big-picture point of view. “Eva has an intuitive ‘visionary’ sense that allows her to shape solutions around a future, which she sees coming,” Jones says. “She has a pioneering spirit—a desire to travel along an uncharted course and to push new thinking. This has led to innovative solutions for our clients and, sometimes, for industries at large. Branded Environments is a good example of these qualities. From the earliest days of her business, an office environment wasn’t just about people in seats. Instead, it was shaped by the very essence of the organizations, their customers, their products, and services,” she says, adding that the telling of the client’s story through design was part of this wider view. Jones points to their early work for Polygram Corporation as an important example of this breakthrough in thinking. “Who else was doing this kind of work in office environments then?  No one!” she exclaims. “Only in the last five to 10 years has the idea of Branded Environments truly come into its own—emulated by many, but humbly begun many years ago.”

eva and stanleyThough less than enthralled by her ideas on branded environments, architect Stanley Tigerman, principal of the highly regarded Chicago-based firm Tigerman McCurrey, admires Maddox for many other shades of her well-rounded intellect. “I met her in 1972, I thought she was spunky, and we became friends,” he says. “I began following her career and saw that she was a gifted, multivalent personality, who could do a lot of things.” It turns out that one of the many things she could do is teach, which she continues to do at Archeworks, an alternative graduate design school that she co-founded with Tigerman in 1994. The school is unique in that its aim is to provide real-life solutions to social needs in the areas of health, education, and community—and Maddox has been instrumental in its development as program director. “Eva always has been more than interested in the future, and she has brought that interest to Archeworks,” says Tigerman, noting a course she developed called “Design Theory and Future Studies,” which she teaches at the not-for-profit school once a year. In addition to her theoretical influence on the profession, Tigerman appreciates Maddox’s approach to teaching, which he describes as Socratic. “She draws people out without standing on a soapbox,” he says. “She’s user-friendly, has virtually no ego, is very open to the ideas of others, and is good at helping coalesce the disparate directions of a team.”

Maddox’s image as a leading thinker in the world of design also has made her a sought-after figure by the business press. “Our publications cover what’s pushing the edge of current best business practices,” says Maddox’s colleague and friend Gloria Scolby, senior vice president and group publisher of Crain Communications, which publishes various business magazines. “Eva always has been the go-to person for the best ways to design corporate environments,” she says. Several of the magazines that have reported on Maddox’s projects and ideas also have honored her for her outstanding professionalism. Crain’s Chicago Business, for example, one of the magazines in Scolby’s group, named Maddox one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women in 1995, while Chicago magazine named her a 2001 Chicagoan of the Year.

Trish Lindsay, a strategic business consultant, who was mentored by Maddox as an intern in college and later worked for her as a designer at Eva Maddox Associates, says Maddox’s gift is looking at problems and creating holistic solutions. “To Eva it’s design, but it’s really systems thinking, in which there’s a weaving together of the 3-D element of space, along with the clients’ product or service itself, the marketing, the collateral, the media,” and all the other business-related elements that are factored into her solutions. Lindsay points to the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati as an example of this type of thinking. “The project started out as a wayfinding problem, and Eva created something that not only solved that problem but also created a brand for the hospital as a whole that actually builds relationships with the patients and visitors as they move through the space.”

Though accomplished enough to rest on her laurels, Maddox appears to show no signs of slowing. In looking toward the future, Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York and the former president of Maddox’s alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, envisions Maddox initiating new conversations around improving education and solving social problems on a larger scale. Recalling a recent conversation she had with the designer, Zimpher describes a “cradle-to-career partnership” idea the two women brainstormed about as a way “to close the achievement gaps and find solutions to the leaky education pipeline that allows so many kids in this country to leave high school without being college or career ready,” she says. Given Maddox’s ability to bring influential people from the business, non-profit, and education communities together and solve problems holistically, Zimpher forecasts that Maddox will focus on how she can be helpful in dealing with this troubling aspect of American society in the near future. “Eva has an immense blend of knowledge and assertion complemented by compassion,” says Zimpher. “She knows how to get things done, yet she’s a team player who brings out the best in people—she’s so selfless and knows how to share her career, so I think an emphasis on education will define her future work. It would be a gift to Chicago.” And if Zimpher’s prediction becomes reality, the effects of this gift no doubt would ripple far and wide—just like so many of the contributions Maddox has made to the world already.


Legend Award Recipient: Vision Quest

31 January, 2011


If you ask anyone who has worked closely with Eva Maddox what her most salient qualities are, you’re likely to hear phrases like “unassuming,” “good listener,” “team player,” and “Southern lady.” But none of these adjectives really offers a clear clue about the inner workings and vision that have enabled this talented designer to amass an incredibly vast body of accomplishments over the course of her diverse and illustrious career. You wouldn’t know, for example, that this unassuming Southern lady has designed millions of square feet of office, showroom, healthcare, museum, and institutional space nationally and internationally; has garnered more than 100 awards for her work; or has founded an innovative design graduate school in inner city Chicago that serves as a model for community and social development. Nor would you necessarily imagine that this team-playing good listener frequently lectures at universities and institutions around the globe, serves on the boards of numerous institutions, and was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the “change agents…designers and dreamers who are creating your future.”

Yet, in the view of her colleagues and friends, these understated character traits rank high among the attributes that have enabled Maddox to successfully launch her own business, nimbly navigate a complex and ever-evolving industry, break through the glass ceiling, effectively mentor future generations of designers, and work with a broad range of clients to reshape the face of commercial design. In her research-driven, interdisciplinary approach to design, Maddox’s mission in working with her clients, she says, has been to “change the trajectory of thinking,” design holistic, future-oriented environments, and clearly express the value of design through its ability to improve lives, enhance business processes, hone identities, and contribute to the bottom line.

Maddox’s design journey began in Viola, Tenn., where her mother, who was a high school advisor at the time, assessed her daughter’s talents and inclinations and urged her to attend the University of Cincinnati. Maddox and her mother could see that its top-rated College of Design, Art, and Architecture & Planning program, which emphasized both theory and practice, would enable her to leverage her problem-solving and math skills with her creative interests, while giving her the experience she needed to thrive in the workplace. Maddox says her mother told her: “When you graduate, you will have a job.” The wisdom of her mother’s guidance continues to affect the designer to this day. Maddox sees the University’s interdisciplinary education program as the pivotal starting point for the adaptive and integrative approach she uses to solve design problems in her current practice. And since she graduated in 1966, a relationship of reciprocal loyalty and respect has emerged between the designer and her alma mater, which over the years has enlisted her to design the entrance hall and exhibition space of a significant new building on its campus, invited her to join its foundation board of trustees, and awarded her with an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree.

After Maddox left the University of Cincinnati, her skills as a communicator and manager were tested and cultivated during the years she worked as a designer for a couple of mid-size Ohio-based firms, including Space Design in Cincinnati, where she collaborated on projects for banks and corporate clients. When her husband Lynn Maddox moved to Indiana to attend graduate school, Maddox joined him there, opening an Indiana office for Space Design and developing her entrepreneurial instincts. In 1970, she moved to Chicago, where she signed on as a project director at Richmond, Manhoff + Marsh, which was then one of the city’s largest interiors firms, and did interiors work for several of Chicago’s major high-rises. It was at this time that the concept of space planning was beginning to emerge, and Maddox was able to put her ideas into effect on larger projects. “Before then, if you were to say you were a space planner, someone would have thought you were from outer space,” says Maddox. “It wasn’t just a matter of furnishing office space; it was a matter of planning it—sometimes the planning was elaborate, sometimes it was basic, but it was definitely a new day.”

eva phoneIn 1975, she set off on her own and launched Eva Maddox Associates, where one of her company’s first projects was for Polygram Corporation. (Shown left is Eva Maddox in her office in 2004; photo by Chris Barrett © Hedrich Blessing.) In designing distinct offices for its many labels, she had an early opportunity to develop the branded work for which she is known today. Her objective, she says, was to “hone the identity of the company with design that represented the personality of its constituency—if you were an artist and you saw your picture on the wall, you’d feel important.” The idea, she explains, “was to communicate through design to our client’s clients—the artists.” The concept resonated, and later work she did for the company’s New York headquarters led to other national opportunities for a wide range of projects in different arenas, including the New York and Midwest Stock Exchanges, the Option Clearing Corporation, The Healthcare Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Northwestern University’s Allen Center, among many others.

A turning point in her career occurred when Beverly Russell, then the editor in chief of Interiors magazine, noticed a showroom she designed for MDC Wallcoverings and published the project. Later, Stanley Abercrombie, then the editor of Interior Design magazine, published another project. The media coverage, says Maddox, “really picked up my work and helped build my career—I’m very indebted to both of them.” A series of showroom projects that followed gave her the insight she needed to hone her ideas on the notion of branded environments, which she is credited with originating and has become the hallmark of her design approach.

Among Maddox’s more notable branding success stories are the headquarters and showroom spaces she recently has designed for Haworth, which have earned numerous design awards and have been instrumental in complementing a company-wide strategic shift in its business approach. When Franco Bianchi, Haworth’s CEO, joined the company nine years ago, Haworth was focused on excellence in engineering, which continues to be integral to its products. But to move the company forward, Bianchi envisioned a stronger design foundation that the company intended to carry through to its facilities—from its headquarters in Holland, Mich., to its showrooms in various parts of the country. “I love art and design, but to take a company to a new level, we needed to transform design into a tool that would allow us to be successful and be more profitable,” says Bianchi. “The spaces Eva created for us make our solutions more clearly accessible and more impactful. They have been a part of an overall change in the management of the company that has brought us to a good place.” Haworth’s chairman, Dick Haworth, credits the new spaces with strengthening the company’s competitiveness, too. “Our new brand and image position has made it possible for us to compete in a larger market,” he says. “It was a team effort, and Eva played a key role in getting us there. She’s got an unwavering commitment to excellence, and she never gives up until the result is superb.”

One of the people who recognized the value of Maddox’s notions on branded environments early on is John Lijewski, the former senior vice president and interior design executive for Bank of America. “When I joined Bank of America, the first order of the day was to take a look at our corporate office environment and develop a workplace that would reflect the core values of the firm,” explains Lijewski, who has known Maddox for 20 years and was a partner at Perkins + Will before joining Bank of America. He hired Maddox to design the brand standard for the bank’s corporate administrative spaces, which has since rolled out in more than 8 million sq. ft. of office area across the country. “The branding themes she helped us create parallel a series of initiatives in the company, including sponsorship initiatives for cultural events, sports programs, community development and environmental initiatives, supplier diversity programs, and charitable giving,” he says. “I’ve always looked to her as a thought leader, who knows how to make people understand that good design is good business. She also has become a pioneer in this male-dominated profession and has gone toe-to-toe with the best black-cape architects in the country.”

The value of her branded environments philosophy—with its emphasis on design as an integral part of business strategy—wasn’t lost on other leaders of Perkins+Will either. Seeing the potential for a mutually beneficial alliance, the international design giant founded in Chicago acquired Maddox’s practice in 2002. Renamed Perkins+Will | Eva Maddox Branded Environments, Maddox’s group now functions as a complementary design discipline of Perkins + Will. “Eva’s view of design, not as a commodity, but as a transformative strategic asset has had an infectious effect on the rest of the company,” says Phil Harrison, CEO, Perkins + Will, who adds that the designer’s eye toward the future continually has enabled her to adapt her practice to remain relevant in the present. “When you look at the whole notion of today’s social entrepreneur, her comprehensive approach—which takes into account the social impact of design—takes on a relevance that is becoming more apropos than ever before.”

Eileen Jones, Maddox’s long-time business partner and a global brand leader at Perkins + Will, expresses a similar appreciation for her colleague’s big-picture point of view. “Eva has an intuitive ‘visionary’ sense that allows her to shape solutions around a future, which she sees coming,” Jones says. “She has a pioneering spirit—a desire to travel along an uncharted course and to push new thinking. This has led to innovative solutions for our clients and, sometimes, for industries at large. Branded Environments is a good example of these qualities. From the earliest days of her business, an office environment wasn’t just about people in seats. Instead, it was shaped by the very essence of the organizations, their customers, their products, and services,” she says, adding that the telling of the client’s story through design was part of this wider view. Jones points to their early work for Polygram Corporation as an important example of this breakthrough in thinking. “Who else was doing this kind of work in office environments then?  No one!” she exclaims. “Only in the last five to 10 years has the idea of Branded Environments truly come into its own—emulated by many, but humbly begun many years ago.”

eva and stanleyThough less than enthralled by her ideas on branded environments, architect Stanley Tigerman, principal of the highly regarded Chicago-based firm Tigerman McCurrey, admires Maddox for many other shades of her well-rounded intellect. “I met her in 1972, I thought she was spunky, and we became friends,” he says. “I began following her career and saw that she was a gifted, multivalent personality, who could do a lot of things.” It turns out that one of the many things she could do is teach, which she continues to do at Archeworks, an alternative graduate design school that she co-founded with Tigerman in 1994. The school is unique in that its aim is to provide real-life solutions to social needs in the areas of health, education, and community—and Maddox has been instrumental in its development as program director. “Eva always has been more than interested in the future, and she has brought that interest to Archeworks,” says Tigerman, noting a course she developed called “Design Theory and Future Studies,” which she teaches at the not-for-profit school once a year. In addition to her theoretical influence on the profession, Tigerman appreciates Maddox’s approach to teaching, which he describes as Socratic. “She draws people out without standing on a soapbox,” he says. “She’s user-friendly, has virtually no ego, is very open to the ideas of others, and is good at helping coalesce the disparate directions of a team.”

Maddox’s image as a leading thinker in the world of design also has made her a sought-after figure by the business press. “Our publications cover what’s pushing the edge of current best business practices,” says Maddox’s colleague and friend Gloria Scolby, senior vice president and group publisher of Crain Communications, which publishes various business magazines. “Eva always has been the go-to person for the best ways to design corporate environments,” she says. Several of the magazines that have reported on Maddox’s projects and ideas also have honored her for her outstanding professionalism. Crain’s Chicago Business, for example, one of the magazines in Scolby’s group, named Maddox one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women in 1995, while Chicago magazine named her a 2001 Chicagoan of the Year.

Trish Lindsay, a strategic business consultant, who was mentored by Maddox as an intern in college and later worked for her as a designer at Eva Maddox Associates, says Maddox’s gift is looking at problems and creating holistic solutions. “To Eva it’s design, but it’s really systems thinking, in which there’s a weaving together of the 3-D element of space, along with the clients’ product or service itself, the marketing, the collateral, the media,” and all the other business-related elements that are factored into her solutions. Lindsay points to the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati as an example of this type of thinking. “The project started out as a wayfinding problem, and Eva created something that not only solved that problem but also created a brand for the hospital as a whole that actually builds relationships with the patients and visitors as they move through the space.”

Though accomplished enough to rest on her laurels, Maddox appears to show no signs of slowing. In looking toward the future, Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York and the former president of Maddox’s alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, envisions Maddox initiating new conversations around improving education and solving social problems on a larger scale. Recalling a recent conversation she had with the designer, Zimpher describes a “cradle-to-career partnership” idea the two women brainstormed about as a way “to close the achievement gaps and find solutions to the leaky education pipeline that allows so many kids in this country to leave high school without being college or career ready,” she says. Given Maddox’s ability to bring influential people from the business, non-profit, and education communities together and solve problems holistically, Zimpher forecasts that Maddox will focus on how she can be helpful in dealing with this troubling aspect of American society in the near future. “Eva has an immense blend of knowledge and assertion complemented by compassion,” says Zimpher. “She knows how to get things done, yet she’s a team player who brings out the best in people—she’s so selfless and knows how to share her career, so I think an emphasis on education will define her future work. It would be a gift to Chicago.” And if Zimpher’s prediction becomes reality, the effects of this gift no doubt would ripple far and wide—just like so many of the contributions Maddox has made to the world already.
 


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