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2020 Men of the Year: Christopher Swan

BRP Architects

Posted online

One of Christopher Swan’s passions is architecture, and it shows.

The managing partner and president of BRP Architects has dedicated his career to the profession by serving in industry organizations, passing his knowledge on to younger generations and by leading a southwest Missouri firm.

Through his position at BRP Architects, Swan has navigated the firm’s ownership transition, engaged his team in strategic planning and led the company to a remote work environment during the coronavirus pandemic. He credits his team in overcoming these recent challenges.

“None of these efforts would have been successful … if it were not for the incredible people with whom I work,” he says.

Swan served as president of the American Institute of Architects on the local level from 2002-09 and on the state level from 2011-14. He also has sat on the board of directors for the AIA Central States Region and on the steering committee for the AIA’s Young Architects Forum in Springfield.

During his five years of service for the state chapter, Swan was influential in shaping legislation.

“We faced several legislative and policy challenges,” he says. “I was part of the team that led the revisions to … legislation governing the practice of architecture, engineering, landscape architecture and land surveying.”

Swan says he also worked to defeat several bills that he says would have been detrimental to the architecture profession. The Missouri chapter will be giving him its Distinguished Service Award this fall for his work on the state level, he says.

When Swan isn’t creating change in the architecture industry, he’s molding its future in the classroom. Swan has been an adjunct professor at Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture since 2013.

“It is tremendously gratifying to see these students succeed in achieving licensure after graduation,” he says. “Many students continue to reach out to me well beyond their graduation as they approach changes or challenges in their careers. Some even reach out to collaborate to launch new ventures.”

He’s also passing on his knowledge through the Academy of Exploration at the Discovery Center of Springfield Inc., of which he’s currently president of the board of directors. Through the academy, he’s created educational content for the students related to bridge design and space design elements.

“Their passion and expertise in delivering STEM education in the museum and the classroom is second to none,” Swan says of the Discovery Center. “Springfield should be proud to have this resource in our community.”

Swan says his greatest civic accomplishment thus far is seeing the Discovery Center get back on its feet and helping revenue continue to rise. The downtown center posted annual operating losses totaling nearly $2 million from 2012-16, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

“I am honored to have played a role in the rejuvenation of the center in terms of improved finances, community collaboration and crystallization of our mission in the Ozarks region,” he says. “While we have a lot of opportunities to improve and grow, I believe that the Discovery Center has proven itself as a vital part of the Ozarks’ education and tourism industries.”

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