“This year long 20th anniversary celebration has been a journey of retrospect. It has been enjoyable to remember the starting point, the ups/downs, the successes, and especially the people whose lives we have touched. The colleagues and clients who have become dear friends. I feel blessed,” reflects Jenelle Smagala.
As founding principal of Synthesis Incorporated, Jenelle Smagala’s strategic vision and collaborative leadership style has allowed her to pioneer a successful business. In 20 years, the firm has grown to an annual design capacity of $200MM in construction value and amassed a portfolio of corporate office, higher education, mixed-use, senior living, research and teaching labs, civic, health care projects and several significant, impactful visioning studies for community projects now underway. In addition to building the practice, Synthesis has been making a difference in the community. There have been many endeavors with community service programs such as United Way, WFYI, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Sisters of Providence and The Little Sisters of Poor which have made a lasting impact on the community and have established an emphasis within the Synthesis studio on paying it forward through community service.
What’s in a Name?
The philosophy of our company is in our name. Synthesis – “the combining of various ideas to create one whole” is embodied in everything we do. Our core belief is that all stakeholders for a project have a voice and should be heard as early as possible.
The success Synthesis has enjoyed has been a team effort. Ms. Smagala is the first to share, “Our team is the reason Synthesis is able to work with such great clients and colleagues on terrific projects.”
When asked what the Synthesis experience offers him, Martin Sams, architect and a member of the leadership team, indicates “This office is a great combination of ideas and personalities that all come together…. The energy that others at Synthesis bring to the office is contagious and never ceases to inspire me to do great work.”
The positive energy is not reserved for those within the office. That became apparent when speaking with Senior Architect Bruce Anderson, who has been with Synthesis for 15 years. “We not only bring in engineers and contractors as early as possible, but also integrate suppliers and materials representatives. These are people who usually don’t see a project until after bids are received, so we expand their opportunity to be involved in the design solution. When we bring them in at the beginning, they can positively impact design, schedule and budgets.”
Merging Creativity and Function
Discovery. Visioning. Ideation. Creation.
The development of a building means many elements blending into a synchronous assembly. Striking a balance between beauty and operational efficiency can be a challenge. The Synthesis studio promotes a unique creative process that uncovers the depths of an organization’s operational requirements as well as their vision for the project. Discovery, Visioning, Ideation and Creation serve as the framework through which the Synthesis studio finds design inspiration.
“We find inspiration in our research. It is a full immersion into an exploration of various aspects of a client’s organization and their project before we start any concept creation,” as explained by Lynda Anderson, Senior Interior Designer and member of the leadership team.
“Clients initiate a design project to fulfill a need. We find that first engaging our clients throughout Discovery, Visioning, and Ideation presents more meaningful outcomes,” shares Jenelle Smagala.
“It eliminates preconceptions and assumptions about how a design solution will come together and rather, strengthens it by fusing corporate nuances, customer experience, industry trending and competitive positioning.”
The collegial atmosphere in the Synthesis studio is not just about a collaborative environment but also promotes an interactive creative process that engages all stakeholders as early as possible. “We believe that tapping into the various layers of an organization’s team is instrumental in laying the groundwork.”
Paying it Forward
Synthesis is committed to giving back to the community by serving as volunteers, members, and leaders for nearly 35 various service organizations. Community service has been a part of the Synthesis ethos since the beginning. Recognizing the impact that can be made for individuals and the community alike, they participate in a variety of ways. T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) is the studio initiative through which many activities are generated. “We have been blessed with good fortune and want to do what we can with our time and talent to help others.” shares Jennifer Byrer, T.E.A.M. chair.
For instance, ‘Casual Friday’ has been turned into a fundraising opportunity. Throughout the year, employees donate a few dollars each time they choose to wear jeans and that money is then used to sponsor a family in need during the holidays. Tapping into their competitive nature, the United Way campaign has turned into a series of themed challenges such as, work space decorating contests, costume contests, and ‘Jar Wars’ to maximize giving and create memorable team building experiences.
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