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Plan Sheets + Red Lines – June 2019

Plan Sheets + Red Lines – June 2019

Photo: Darin Schnabel ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Rolls-Royce Supreme. If you haven’t already heard, the Guyton Collection – a famous assortment of classic American and European automobiles assembled by the late architect Fred Guyton – recently sold at auction for an astounding $11.7 million. The auction, hosted in St. Louis by Sotheby’s, saw bidders from 27 countries buy 73 cars and an assortment of art and memorabilia. The showstopper was the 1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi des Belges in the style of Barker, which went for $1.3 million, far outpacing the pre-sale estimate.

Other highlights included the sale of a 1938 Rolls-Royce Phantom III ‘Parallel Door’ Saloon Coupe at $423,000, and a 1925 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster, which went for $280,000. The auction also featured a 1927 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport, reportedly one of Guyton’s favorite cars. It sold for $362,500. Clearly, Guyton had a keen eye, plenty of respect for the process of car collecting, and the resources to indulge his passion.

But let’s not just look at the cars. Let’s look at the man. Guyton, who passed in September, was survived by his wife, seven children, and 10 grandchildren. Before serving in the US Army as a helicopter pilot, Guyton spent a year in Bogota, Colombia as a Peace Corps volunteer. He co-founded his own firm, PGAV, now a 100-plus person company which is still very much in business designing facilities for the hospitality and leisure market.

It’s clear Guyton led a full life, enjoyed himself, and left behind a great legacy for a lot of people. You can’t ask for more than that.

Boston Beans. Everyone knows it’s a tight labor market. So, what do you do when a large legacy architecture firm just ups and closes its doors, leaving a lot of people unexpectedly out of work? Well, if your Ozzie Nelson, Chairman and Co-CEO of NELSON, you hire them. Shortly after news of the Steffian Bradley Architects closure broke, there came another story with Nelson announcing the hire of longtime SBA architect and principal Bob Humenn. In the article, Nelson said he had plans to hire more former SBA employees to beef out the firm’s Boston healthcare offerings.

But back to the shocking news. SBA, founded in 1932, closed its doors in April for no apparent reason. But we know something must have gone wrong. Try as they might, the Boston Business Journal and the Boston Real Estate Times couldn’t turn up any hard dirt or smoking guns. As far as we know, it could have been a failed leadership transition. Back in March 2016, the New England Real Estate Journal published an announcement about SBA’s plans. The leadership transition was supposed to take place over the course of three to five years, where one executive would increasingly assume the responsibilities of the incumbent President of US Operations. But in July 2018, a little over two years into the transition, the emerging executive took a big job with another firm, leaving SBA after nearly 20 years. So much for the three-to-five-year plan.

Good ol’ Florida. They say stupid things happen in Florida. Nothing could be so true. Just this year, at least two engineers and one firm have had their licenses revoked in The Sunshine State. One engineer took partial payment from a married couple looking to add an extension to their house. The engineer drew up preliminary drawings for the house, took $1,800 of the $2,700 fee, but never produced the final drawings. “The homeowners tried numerous times to get a response and a timetable for completing the final drawings. The homeowners tried unsuccessfully to get respondent to complete the engineering services contracted for or to get a refund of their payment. Respondent hasn’t responded to any communications,” according to the case file with the State of Florida Board of Professional Engineers. For that stellar piece of customer service, the engineer had his license revoked.

Another engineer was caught practicing on a suspended license. He also happened to be the owner of the firm. With a suspended license, he could not function as the firm’s principal officer, and therefore could not operate the firm. It looks like this guy was a single-shingle, meaning he was the only engineer there. When the state board asked for proof of a new principal officer, someone who could run the firm according to state law, the respondent could not, or did not, provide it. That left the board with only one solution: Revocation.

According to research by Zweig Group, a civil engineer at the principal level makes as much as $150,000 a year. Heck, even an engineer at the PM level makes as much as $110,000 annually. That’s the house, the kid’s college fund, the boat, the vacation, and the retirement. It makes you wonder what’s going through someone’s head when they throw it all away. But as they say, stupid things happen in Florida.

If you know of an interesting or off-kilter story taking place in the AEC industry, please contact C+S at rmassey@zweiggroup.com.