MartinRiley is a special kind of architectural firm—one that marries exceptional design and superior engineering. Balancing artistic and functional design can be a difficult feat, so it’s no surprise that their team is in high demand. And with decades of experience, they’re a pillar in their field with a portfolio that speaks for itself.
Their office inside the historic Baker Street Station, which they’ve restored themselves, is an exquisite testament to their thoughtful work. In addition to historic preservation, they have a scrolling list of expertise. I stopped by to learn more about their work, history, and commitment to Fort Wayne.
Meet the team at MartinRiley!
Molly: MartinRiley has developed a vast portfolio since Victor Martin and John Riley started the firm in the 80s. Can you tell me about the imprint your founders have left on the business? What were some of their core values, and how has their approach led to your team’s success today?
Ron: Thirty-seven years ago, Victor Martin and John Riley formed a partnership. Both brought strong design and technical backgrounds to the emerging Fort Wayne firm, and these strengths remain our hallmark —why clients first get to know us, and why so many have worked with us for decades.
As the firm grew its portfolio, Victor and John honed their individual strengths. It was Victor who became associated with architectural and interior design, while John developed the engineering and building envelope specialties that have become calling cards for us.
The founders passed their individual strengths onto successive staff members, sustaining the firm’s mission. The goal is all about providing purposeful, aesthetically-pleasing work, being intentional and client-driven in our designs, and having integrity through efficient operation, environmental honesty, and practicality.
What’s important today is when you come to MartinRiley, you get both strong design and technical skills on every project.
Molly: Historical preservation is listed as an expertise of yours, and your office is located inside a historic building itself, which seems intentional. Why is historic preservation such an integral tenet of MartinRiley’s?
Ron: Our Fort Wayne office has been located in the historic Baker Street Train Station since 1996. Our investment in restoring and making the building our home is a testament to our firm’s commitment to Downtown Fort Wayne, preserving our nation’s historic sites, and finding new and innovative ways to breathe new life into deserving buildings.
Our state-certified historic architecture staff have designed many award-winning projects involving historic renovation and adaptive reuse. MartinRiley can transform a century-old school into senior housing, or an abandoned former hospital into a multi-functional office, while allowing them to honor the history of the original space. It’s our belief that historic structures and building techniques can coexist with contemporary uses.
Molly: What are some other areas of concentration that are key to the MartinRiley team?
Ron: MartinRiley offers architectural, building envelope, civil engineering, historic preservation, interior design, mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering, structural engineering, architectural and engineering technologies, and associated assessments, reports, and studies. We work in a variety of sectors including commercial, education pre-k-12, healthcare, higher education, historic preservation, industrial, liturgical, multi-family housing, municipal, parks and recreation, residential, and senior living.
Molly: Wow! That’s quite a range! For someone who might not be familiar with your body of work, can you name some of your prominent projects in Fort Wayne? And is there a project you feel particularly proud of?
We’ve been practicing architecture and engineering in Fort Wayne for 37 years. As you can imagine, there are many, many projects that we consider prominent, and we are very proud of each and every one: Covington Elementary School, Concordia Lutheran High School and Athletic Complex, Baker Street Train Station, Coca-Cola Bottle Works, St. Vincent DePaul Church and School, River’s Edge and the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, and Kreager Park—just to name a few.
Molly: What about your team and company culture? What’s it like working at MartinRiley?
Ron: MartinRiley’s philosophy of “intentional design” reaches across all our expert disciplines, and informs both our business and design models. We work to create environments that are purposeful and mindful. We focus our designs on individuality, ecology, and striking the balance between aesthetics and functionality.
Our mission is to respect our client’s vision, budget, and schedule, while delivering creative design solutions that are supported by superior technical and engineering expertise.
Our company culture is very collaborative, with a holistic approach to each project, but we definitely get into the details. We have the ability to bring in different disciplines as needed, better integrating all aspects of the project. We have extensive experience in many sectors, and through the collaboration process we can develop new and better solutions across all of them. We are always asking, “How can we make the design better?”
One of the best parts of working at MartinRiley is seeing the project through from beginning to completion. The team for each project works together throughout, from assessing existing conditions, to design inception, creating drawings and details, holding project meetings, all the way through to project completion. We all love to see how everything comes together on site. We’re all working to improve the communities we live and work in, so the process is deeply rewarding.
Molly: Last question: I want to go back to your firm’s home, the historic Baker Street Station;it’s such a cool location! Why was it important for MartinRiley to be Downtown Fort Wayne?
Ron: We’ve always been located in and around Downtown Fort Wayne, which we felt was important—to be part of the community and support a vibrant downtown.
The investment in the historic Baker Street Train Station was a combination of our appreciation for a beautiful historic landmark, sentimental memories, and love of the train station. Many of us have memories of coming to the station and meeting Santa as children, which is one of the many reasons we’ve renewed that event over the last few years.
MartinRiley felt it was important to invest and be part of the heart of the community in Downtown Fort Wayne, and we’ve enjoyed seeing all the improvements being made over the last 20+ years.
Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.