SKB PEOPLE, VALUES & CULTURE
True to the founders' principles, SKB remains devoted to helping all who work at the firm realize their professional and personal dreams
THRIVING ON DIVERSITY
Since its inception, SKB has been extremely successful at recruiting and developing talented professionals from all walks of life. The rich and diverse collective culture of all the people who have worked at SKB over the years has formed the culture of the firm - it is a professional practice made up of people, led by professionals who are passionate about providing insightful, thoughtful and beautiful solutions to the design problems, and it makes absolutely no difference who brought the ideas.
The firm is organized horizontally, which allows for all team members to participate in every phase of the project and every voice is heard. The design studio works very much like a school studio, where the senior designers mentor the junior staff to help them achieve their professional goals at a pace that suits their abilities and desires. At the same time, the diverse experiences and backgrounds of the staff help enrich the design experience for everyone in the studio.
All staff are encouraged to participate in different leadership and professional societies and SKB sponsors these activities. In response, staff have led the firm’s initiatives for organizations like Leadership Washington, Architects in the Schools, Don Bosco High School Corporate Work Study, DC Building Industry Association parks renovations programs, Children of Mine Center, Jubilee Housing, Sarah’s Circle Seniors Community, and numerous charter schools volunteer programs.
COMMUNITY SERVICE & ITS INFLUENCE
This community involvement component of the firm quickly became a major influence as to how the firm looks at its clients, the context of its projects and all the people affected by SKB’s design work.
When Mark Baughman joined the firm in 1987, he set out to engage with the local community to be a better corporate citizen. His first contact was the Sarah’s Circle Seniors Community, which provides housing for very low income seniors in Adams Morgan, and over the next 25 years Mark provided his leadership and expertise as an architect and businessman to help Sarah’s Circle become financially solvent while providing housing and services in a 1917 apartment building in need of major renovations. As Sarah’s Circle became a model for volunteer community services, Mark’s personal and professional involvement with the residents led to his becoming a valued board member for more than 15 years and Chair for 6 of those years.
In the late 1980’s Mark was asked to help start the DC Building Industry Association’s new Community Improvement Day program. After the first few years of renovating shelters and parks, Mark was asked to co-chair the DCBIA Community Services Committee, where he continued to be the point person for all DCBIA community outreach initiatives and requests for over 20 years. This included managing the volunteer renovation of 18 large DC parks. During that time Mark worked extensively with neighborhood associations, parent groups and individuals all through the minority and low income sections of the District of Columbia.
Mark became increasingly attuned to the different ways people might see the City and the workplace. As the Director of Design for the firm, Mark formed a design approach that recognized that while the workplace may be for residents of Chevy Chase and Reston, it is also for residents of Anacostia and Congress Heights. Providing a workplace that provided dignity for everyone who worked at or came to the office became a signature quality of SKB’s work.
This sensitivity to the many lenses through which people see the places the firm designs enabled SKB to design exceptional buildings and interiors around the world. Building on the philosophy of “Critical Regionalism,” SKB was able to transcend the impulse to design American buildings abroad and to look at local building traditions and cultures to make each design unique to its time and place, whether it be in Madagascar, Yemen, Bangladesh or Azerbaijan.