Callison Architecture

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Callison Architecture Reviews

Updated Jun 20, 2014

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3.0 35 reviews

27% Approve of the CEO

Callison Architecture Chairman & CEO John Jaestrom

John Jaestrom

(11 ratings)

45% of employees recommend this company to a friend
35 Employee Reviews
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    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    Excellent Work Environment

    Architecture Staff II (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsRespectful 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.

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

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue with the open door policy and supporting younger staff.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

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

    Project Architect (Current Employee)

    ProsGood 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.

    ConsWe 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 Senior ManagementSend 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
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    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    management heavy-no support

    Senior Designer (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

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

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

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
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    1 person found this helpful  

    good place to work

    Office (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsIt has very good benefits
    It have very nice people

    ConsIt has very regimented job roles
    It is overly structured

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Wannabe design firm

    Graphic Designer (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThis 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.

    ConsThis 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 Senior ManagementGo 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

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

    Associate (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThis 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.

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

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe more open with employees about what's in the future.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Corporate

    Architectural Staff I (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsThere are toooonns of resources to utilize. They provide great benefits, and the staff/co-workers are extremely knowledgeable. Because the firm is very reputable, they have awesome clients.

    ConsOften felt like a small fish in a big sea. The firm is very structured and difficult to "move up." There is little opportunity for site visits and you spend 99% of the time staring at a computer screen.

    Advice to Senior ManagementBe more transparent

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
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    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Good training, culture lacking at large company

    Junior Designer (Current Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsI received great training and continuing education

    ConsThe culture was lacking, especially from the design collaboration aspect. The firm at large seemed more focused on the amount of money they were making than the quality or impact of the design work.
    They also have a reputation of "hiring and firing", it seems like there is a lot of churn.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFocus on structuring teams in smaller groups to allow for better culture

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Support Staff Employee

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsFast paced, interesting projects, great team members. Exciting environment to work in

    ConsThe board mentality is placing profits over talent and experience

    Advice to Senior ManagementRespect your employees instead of intimidating them.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Good people, some variety, rough hours, low morale

    Arch Staff II (Former Employee) Seattle, WA

    ProsGood exposure to variety of components of Architectural work
    Good people... fun, smart & driven coworkers
    Free beverages to keep you hydrated and motor running
    Occasional lunch education sessions by outside vendors. Interesting if you have time!
    Great out if office pass times with work mates.

    ConsHeads down, low connection with coworkers in-house. A lot of drive, not a lot of feedback, very demanding clients. Project leads have interesting strategies at managing clients...often it seems at the cost of our own employees.
    Overtime and definitely not paid for it. No bonuses, extremely small pay raises, if at all.

    Lack of mentorship due to time crunch for all. Understaffed, but difficult to manage a larger client budget. It seems HR "looks the other direction" when employees are consistently working over 50-60 hrs a week (salaried at 40hrs with the understanding of unpaid "occasional overtime"). Feel bad leaving at a normal "40 hour work week" even if you're on schedule.

    Advice to Senior ManagementHire more employees, budget better in favor of the underdogs.
    Apprenticeship is a lost art these days; it is especially crucial in the world of Architecture and design fields. Experienced architects need to be able to pass along their wisdom and understanding to younger team members in order for the company to thrive long-term.
    Work on work-load balance, client management.
    #1... INQUIRE of your employees how they're doing in their work-load, career goals, intra-office relations, and work-life balance. And do this OFTEN- ie weekly meetings rather than once a quarter or when fit hits the shan.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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