Callison Architecture

  www.callison.com
  www.callison.com

Callison Architecture Reviews

Updated November 2, 2014
Updated November 2, 2014
38 Reviews
2.9
38 Reviews
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Callison Architecture Chairman & CEO John Jaestrom
John Jaestrom
12 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    good place to get working visa

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time

    Pros

    good place to learn from group

    Cons

    leaders in the company are all good

    Approves of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    "Egos everywhere, Lack of culture, old and tasteless design"

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Architectural Staff in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Architectural Staff in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Flexible schedule and 0 accountability (if you like this sort of thing), good health insurance , decent 401K, Flexible dress code (too flexible), they provide Visas for foreigners. We have great clients, big names and you experience what "real" developers demand to Architects. Good people, only staff (bottom of the hierarchy and usually young people). Free alcohol on Fridays (i do not drink). Great office location.

    Cons

    I like to work for corporations, i really do, but have you heard about Office politics, and manipulation? Welcome to Callison. Managers & Principals are horrible, short-sighted and you have a company full of egos that will not allow anyone to be more competitive and better designers, no creative work, no attention to detail; there is always urgency to deliver cheap and fast "design", any approach to design is based on 90s aesthetics (people dress and think like in the 90s) it is like time stopped there. The office design is horrible, Work quality is compromised all the time, management has not been trained to be leaders, they just blame you for anything wrong and take credit for your ideas, if you are a raising star forget about that, talented designers will be seen as a threat to top management. All the time you will feel you are doing a work that does not match your skill level (several coworkers are more qualified than me doing my same job, and i even feel i am overqualified for what i do) Non-existing culture, values are not promoted, HR.... do we even have HR?, nobody does anything to improve anything, You are always underpaid (good luck asking for the median salary in our industry, you will not get it), 50 % of the company should be fired, and the rest should be put in quarantine to get away from an unhealthy company (i am including myself here, but i am planning to leave). There are no competitive people, have you ever seen someone famous or from a top architecture schools at Callison? No, because principals want to feel they're the best designers in the world, when they are not, please go to SOM or RTKL where at least you will find people with interesting careers. Having an intelligent conversation is pointless people don't even have the lingo, interest or preparation to sustain one. I have seen the most competitive employees being hired from RTKL, Gensler, HKS, HOK,SOM, you name it, and been fired because Callison "though" they did not perform good for that position, and it is always because upper management didn't like them. If you are applying for a top management position and are a good manager chances are you will be criticized all the time for trying to do the good thing and trying to make a radical changes, learn to distrust everybody including those that seem to be friendly and have been there for more than 5 years, and create some powerful allies to keep your job. Everybody there comes from Ohio University, or UW and if you are some unlucky SCAD student ( they always realize what i am describing here and leave) just go somewhere else. They love Ohio State University students... You will be forced (in a passive-aggressive way) to get your license because the company wants to rank in the top 10 firms in the US that plus the Seattle freeze, worst combination. Do not tell your future plans, or if you plan to get pregnant, do not trust your PM, Director or Principal, anything that does not help your manager in their secret agenda to become Principal makes you an unfaithful and an unworthy employee. If your PM is abusive nobody will do anything to stop them because chances are they're the Principal's prodigy that seems to be protected by god himself, even if that means that the company will go through legal sues for that individual, real story. Egos , and passive-aggressive behaviour everywhere. Absent CEO (for good or bad complex reasons i do not want to list here), no help to other good causes but United Way because the company wants to do what Nordstrom supports in an attempt to have that account forever. Technology is obsolete. You are not motivated, 0 feedback, this is not a place for A players (most managers there don't know the remote idea of this term) just for brainless people that just want to go to their homes and have zero ambition in life, no accountability to help society with design, humanity or the built environment. The new company that took over Callison will not change any of this because that would mean to change the business model, unless they fire almost every Principal, Director, and Manager. You will get promised tons of things & none of them will happen, if you plan to come here, be ready to start looking for a new job.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get fired and do a favor to yourself, go to yoga and let go your ego, get involved in people's careers instead of your "Favorite" employees, most of them are full of ego. Take some real 101 architecture lessons, then come back. If you really want to be a manager start by reading the basics of your position. Keep doing what you are doing and will be a giant corporation with no respect from the Industry. Ask the AIA's opinion about Callison.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Playing favorites does not help anyone grow

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Great location gorgeous 360 views of downtown and the waterfront.
    Good benefits (401k, Medical, Dental and Vision)
    In house CalUniversity classes to further advance skills
    In-house product presentations

    Cons

    This is only for one department. I am sure other departments are different. The company can offer your so much, but favoritism makes a constant appearance and weighs down the learning experience and growth of an individual employee. This also makes open communication non existent. "If this way works, why change it" mentality prohibits the growth of the department all together even though new ways will be more efficient. Freedom to grow, but when you know grow too much, the reigns get pulled for you to fall back in line.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 3 people found this helpful  

    Lack of Culture

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Nice downtown location with a view of the water, free bus pass, manageable hours, free Starbucks coffee and soda fountain. Because it's a large company there are ample opportunities to get your CEU's via lunch and learns.

    Cons

    Lack of culture, conservative approach to design, too many managers and not enough do-ers, non-existent CEO, Principals that hide in their offices, little accountability, lacking technology upgrades, small workspaces, and he HR department is clueless. Overall there's a sense of distrust, so projects become over-staffed with an inefficient workflow. The firm operates under a "Silo" approach, which creates limited growth potential. Communication lacks in all aspects due to the large firm culture.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Show some interest in your staff. JJ try coming out of your office at least once a week and pretend like you understand and appreciate design. Hire someone else to lead your HR department that knows what they are doing and has a vested interest in creating a real design culture. Spend some money on technology in order to stay competitive and relevant.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Excellent Work Environment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Architecture Staff II in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Architecture Staff II in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Respectful colleagues who are knowledgeable and willing to go the extra mile. Tons of resources and management is very proactive about younger staff development. Great "open-door" policy. Very relaxed environment with a lot of creative and inspiring professionals.

    Cons

    Very selective hiring process that can be both rigorous and lengthy.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Continue with the open door policy and supporting younger staff.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 3 people found this helpful  

    Good people, bad management, and HR department who look the other way.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Project Architect
    Current Employee - Project Architect

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Good location.
    Overall, great employees who are intelligent, knowledgeable, and kind.
    Business casual dress code.
    Great location.
    Benefits are probably fairly competitive given today's poor economy.

    Cons

    We are all overworked, under-appreciated and underpaid – bad combo! I'm trying hard not to skip lunches, come in early, stay late, or come in on weekends.
    Workload is out of control, my boss has no idea how much work her people do in comparison to their peers, what the quality of our work is, what extra things we do and have learned, etc.
    The principal in our group seems to be keeping a "tattle tale log" to track perceived errors and wrong doings – never things done well, and certainly never the many things done that are considered “above and beyond.” And funny thing, everything on that list comes from the same 3 women who happen to be her friends. How do I know they are her friends? Because they carpool together and socialize after hours and are unprofessional enough to stand around talking about it where people are forced to hear about it.
    When I finally had a chance to talk to someone in HR about the hostile work environment and the toll this mentality has on employees, customers, and ultimately our profit, their response was that our last survey showed 75-50% of Callison employees are dissatisfied overall and recognition was a big part of that. Oddly enough, this seemed to reinforce to this person that we were all just being petty. They didn't seem to connect the negative impacts to our profit and to our customers. A few weeks later they did follow-up on my use of the word "hostile" but only to be sure they didn't need to start an investigation. They also encouraged me to move on and reminded me that we'd been bought out by a venture group as if there were a good reason to move on while I can. I'm a good employee with an excellent work history at Callison as well as previous employers and am well liked by customers, known for going out of my way to help others.
    If we have a culture and values, we don't know about it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Send anyone in a leadership position through extensive leadership and supervisory training. Educate human resource department in employment law and the common, most expensive lawsuits.Get a handle on workloads - volumes, how much time tasks take, what is considered meeting expectations, exceeding, not meeting, etc. Who is doing what? Audit the work and determine the quality. Standardize procedures, workflow, etc. You'll probably need to hire experts in this field but if you can pair them with your best employees (assuming you know who they are), it can be done right and supported after the consultants leave.
    Bring in mentors who can support your leadership team and also hold them accountable. Empower your valuable employees and recognize them for jobs well done; ask them for their involvement in improving morale but only if you have leaders in place who genuinely support them and don't feel threatened.
    Create a professional development program.
    You need more than just technically skilled leaders whose only education is in architecture or interior design. You also need business management education in addition to the training I've already mentioned.
    If you really want to turn this company around it will be expensive because it's long overdue but you have a great foundation in place, clients and employees who are well worth the investment.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    management heavy-no support

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Senior Designer in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Callison Architecture full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    great location in downtown seattle, close to public transportation, shops, etc, plus a great view of the bay.

    Cons

    very top heavy management, overworked staff, unprofessional and disorganized leadership. Top heavy leadership would rather throw employees under the bus and blame them rather that work together as a team to solve problems. Culture of intimidation towards employees-constant insinuation of losing your job if you don't perform in a certain way leadership wants you to.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    get rid of the unprofessional principals and managers and hire true professionals who know how to cultivate talent and respect from staff.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    good place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Office in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Office in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Callison Architecture full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    It has very good benefits
    It have very nice people

    Cons

    It has very regimented job roles
    It is overly structured

  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Mostly decent people. The work isn't very creative.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Associate in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Callison Architecture full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    This seems like a good place to get experience, and they have a lot of good clients. There are some really experienced people to learn from if you are paying attention. I did a lot of IDP here, but I had to go to a smaller firm for more creative projects.

    Cons

    There aren't many chances to move up in the company or to change studios. The design work isn't very creative.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be more open with employees about what's in the future.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 6 people found this helpful  

    Wannabe design firm

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Graphic Designer in Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Graphic Designer in Seattle, WA

    I worked at Callison Architecture full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    This is a great place to work if: a. you're afraid of risk taking b. you prefer a bland existence c. you lack imagination or d. helvetica is the only typeface you like to work with.

    The pay is decent, though I'd take less pay for more stimulating work any day.

    There were some nice people there, though it seemed to me that all the most creative people had settled into their position rather than thriving in it, which of course kills dignity and creative vitality.

    Cons

    This place goes for every little low hanging fruit it can get. It prides itself on doing adequate work in small time frames. Essentially it's a factory that produces quick work for people who don't know any better (aka corporate America). I found it complacent in the work quality (probably because we were always working on tight timelines and didn't have time to make sure what we were doing made sense).

    This is a bad place to collaborate. It's as if spending some time really exploring an idea is considered a waste of time at Callison. After quick and infrequent meetings we're expected to return to our seats and pump out something magnificent despite being in a collaborative vacuum. Maybe some people would thrive on this, but, in my experience it's always better to check and recheck ideas for weaknesses without the presence of egos. This place takes an idea and says "good enough" and runs with it. They really have a just "do what we always do with a different colored ribbon" mentality.

    One thing that always bothered me was that their are about 6 people in the building of 300 that seem to really care about sustainability, socioeconomic factors, marginalization of the working class, gentrification etc. The don't seem to give a _______ as long as they are getting paid for the work. This is especially troubling considering the amount of work Callison does in poorly regulated countries like India and China. Truthfully I don't know what the labor practices are on Callison projects, but I do know that I would only really want to work at a place that made these considerations primary. Because without intentional effort to ensure a high standard is upheld, they probably aren't in certain regions.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Go out of business. Become three businesses. Anything but the amorphous, lacking in identity firm that you are. If you want to provide graphic design services, maintain an adequately staffed graphic design department. Make sure you have leadership that actually leads, and has some degree of passion for the work they are doing. This was among my main complaints was that there was inadequate mentorship. More often than not I got a sort of "i dunno" response for the so-called leaders Callison.

    Secondly, treat yourself with dignity, tell the clients you need 2 months, not two weeks. If they are in such a hurry why don't you ask them why. Tell them quality comes first. Why don't you grow a pair in the first place and do something that isn't tragically safe in the first place? This place was always afraid to become more than they are, every opportunity that had to do so was completely stifled by a crippling fear of rocking the boat. It really is a lame place to work. I got fired from this place so you can take everything I say with a big grain of salt if you like. But I can tell you that, excluding maybe the principals, the employees at Callison do not have a huge sense of dignity. Callison has a knack for making exciting work menial. Even the people there that are in good standing with there employers openly and frequently express dissatisfaction with their work, their job and Callison in general. Their overall tone regarding the firm is with disdain, or justification. In short, this place is unlikely to facilitate and edifying expression of your vocation.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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