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Bates & Associates continues to grow

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by Jan K. Allen

SBJ Contributing Writer

The C. Warren Bates Jr. & Associates architectural firm has made a name for itself in and around the Springfield area. Established in 1974, Warren Bates was joined in business by his son, Alan, in 1979.

The firm, currently made up of eight architects and two support people, works as a team on major projects, according to Alan Bates. Each associate contributes his own area of expertise and develops his own clientele, he stated, but they work together to pool their knowledge.

Warren Bates Jr. began his career in architecture in 1956 after graduating from the University of Kansas with the coveted Alpha Rho Chi Award to his credit.

The elder Bates spent a number of years working with local architectural firms before establishing his own firm in '74. His reputation in the business has allowed him to expand to the current staff of 10 architects, all of whom stay busy, Alan Bates said.

The Bates firm provides full service, from master planning on down to green space and roadways, and interior design. They also provide help with zoning, upgrades and repairs.

About 80 percent of the firm's business is for commercial and institutional structures, with the other 20 percent divided between government, residential and industrial, Alan Bates said.

"Most of our business is repeat or referral business," he added. "Our clients have grown to trust us."

The firm occupied offices in the Centerre Bank Building until 1982, when the company remodeled and moved into a historic house located at 1006 N. Cedarbrook. The structure had been the residence of Alan Bates' grandparents, George and Florence Laker, and was built in 1894.

They debated about the location, according to Alan Bates, but for a business which has virtually no walk-in trade, location was not really a major issue.

The remodeling design for the house won the Springfield Chapter AIA Medal Award for design excellence in 1984.

The office complex now includes six computer-aided design stations where plans and designs are produced for the firm's growing number of clients.

Bates and Associates does the majority of its work within a 100-mile radius of Springfield, although it also has clients in West Virginia, South Carolina and Las Vegas, Nev.

Also, "We started in Branson before the boom," Alan Bates said.

The firm designed the First Baptist Church in Branson in the early 1980s. Then, in the early '90s, work in the music city became nonstop for about three years.

"Architects got a little spoiled when Branson was booming," Bates said. "But it got too crazy when all the speculators arrived; the fun was gone."

Along with several hotels and motels in Branson, Alan Bates designed the tower at Shepherd of the Hills for owner Gary Snadon, and he was the principal architect on the Ray Stevens Theater.

Bates and Associates designed the Andy Williams Moon River Theater, completed in 1992. The structure was published in the Architectural Digest magazine in 1993, a prestigious accomplishment within the industry.

Among recent achievements, the firm has designed a number of Ramey's/Price Cutter supermarkets; Smitty's stores; all of the commercial buildings at Chesterfield Village; and additions to the Cox Medical Centers, both north and south, Bates said.

The group has done several projects for Cox/Oxford Health Systems, a few of which are still in progress in some phases.

Bates and Associates is currently working on an expansion project for Coca-Cola, a warehouse for BWI in Memphis, and hotels in Branson, West Virginia, Rolla and St. Robert.

The design work on phase I of the new city park and community center at Highway M and Scenic is under way at the firm, Bates said. The first phase of the $3.7 million project will include the community center, complete with senior rooms, workout rooms and indoor basketball courts.

The $10 million renovation of the Student Union Building at SMSU is a joint project between Bates and Associates and Butler, Rosenbury & Partners, according to Bates.

"Architectural firms often pool their talents and work together on big ventures," he said.

Bates added that the work in his firm is "truly a team effort."

He said, "In a small office, you really have to be able to do it all."

Work in the design field is not all glamour, according to Bates. Most of his workday is consumed with dealing with clients and problem solving.

Work on plans takes place in the early morning or evening hours, away from distractions.

Bates said he sees a rosy future in Springfield, not only for his firm, but the building industry in general.

With the city and the surrounding area reaching the 500,000 mark, it is considered a major metropolitan area. This attracts larger national companies, Bates said.

PHOTO CAPTION:

Alan Bates has followed in his father's footsteps, designing nationally recognized buildings like the Moon River Theater in Branson.[[In-content Ad]]

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