About us

We consider every project that we start a new journey.  We know that it is not our journey, but one chosen by you, and we will be there as a guide to help you walk that path.  At the start, we want to hear your stories and fully understand your needs and desires so that we can better plan our path together.  We will earn your trust so that you know we will not lead you astray or abandon you.  It will be a journey that may have some unexpected obstacles or weather that we will have to navigate around, but it will be exciting and we will enjoy it along the way.  This is how we have always worked, and we acknowledge that it is not the right fit for everyone.  We desire to work with those who see the value in this approach.

The CMO story begins in 1981 with three architects who envisioned creating a new architectural firm that would work closely with its clients to guide them on their architectural journeys.  

Bill Cox, Tom Medendorp, and Bob Olson agreed that their vision for a successful firm would be one where the architect/client relationship was a strong partnership, with the architect’s abilities enriching the clients experience as they successfully completed their project.

Develop Trust                                                                                                                When we begin a journey with any new client or group, we know that there is a period of trust building.  You may know our professional capabilities through our past projects, but we want you to get to know our team on a personal level as well.  We will tell you about our kids, share our hobbies, and tell you some stories about ourselves.  As the project and journey progresses, we know your comfort level will increase as you get to know us personally and professionally.  CMO was founded on building and maintaining meaningful relationships with our clients, and they continue to come back to us because of the shared experience on the journeys we take together.

Exceed expectations                                                                                                      We can only improve by continuing to meet or surpass what our client’s expect from us.  We continuously monitor our approach by surveying our clients throughout the process, including after the project is complete.  We recently surveyed our long-term clients and asked them to describe the CMO “experience” on their projects.  The four common elements shared as our “company traits” are:

Organic Process - both fluid and reflective, and involves very inclusive communications with all project stakeholders.  There are no preconceptions, and no rigid structure to dictate the design.

Creative Solutions - innovative and creative designs for facilities that are aesthetically pleasing, functionally efficient, and cost effective.

Stable & Reliable –their decisions are influenced by a long history of success in guiding their clients.

Enjoyable - they enjoy what they do and that has fostered rewarding and lasting relationships with many of their clients.

It’s no surprise that these “company traits” have also attracted like-minded colleagues to the firm.  Two of the founding partners remain, and a third partner also has over twenty five years at CMO.  Rounding out the office one other registered architect, bringing the number of licensed professionals to four, as well as two architectural designers on the path of registration and two administrative assistants.  Our size allows us to maintain a close interactive environment in which the sharing of concepts and ideas is exciting, productive, and fun.  We are able to utilize the diverse strengths and interests of the individual architects toward the goal of workable, efficient, and high quality design solutions.

Stay flexible                                                                                                                      Our size is our strength.  It helps communication within our own office, affords us the ability to stay close to the everyday work on each project, and also benefits our clients.  We are unique in that the people that come to the initial interview are also the ones who will be there when you open the new facility and will be guiding you and traveling with you along every step of the way in between.  

Our size also allows us to approach a project somewhat uniquely.  With no support drafting staff, it means that a registered architect does all the work in all phases of the project, resulting in higher quality and technically correct construction drawings and specifications.  This also eliminates the communication gaps that can sometimes exist between the “design” department and the “CAD” department that you will find in a larger firm.

Actively listen & clearly communicate.                                                                       These are hallmarks of the CMO experience, and they are keys to any successful project. A breakdown in communication results in ambiguity, frustration, and errors, which affects project schedule, project cost, and client satisfaction.  The better informed you are, the more comfortable we are.      

Leverage experience                                                                                                CMO’s extensive list of projects include spatial and site master planning, civic, educational, healthcare, senior living, sports/recreation, historic restoration, institutional, religious/ worship, retail, and residential projects, our clients can be assured that we have the expertise for their project.  Our architects maintain registrations through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and have done work in 17 states.

Design responsibly                                                                                                        As architects, we have a social duty to use sustainable design practices to substantially reduce or eliminate the environmental impact of the buildings we design, construct and operate.  Buildings alone account for more than 30% of the total annual energy used in the United States.  We, along with our engineering partners, are actively committed to these sustainable design practices and we carefully consider the impact of the design decisions we make in each of our projects.  We are members of the U.S. Green Building Council and also have one LEED accredited professional on our staff, should you want to pursue LEED Certification for your building.        

Inspire confidence                                                                                                        By providing high quality construction documents, our client’s and their projects benefit from less questions and clarifications during bidding, and minimal requests for information during construction.  The direct result and benefit to the client during bidding is that there is a very tight grouping of bid results, allowing for confidence in selecting a contractor.  During construction there are minimal change orders to the project, other than those requested by the client.  Contractors from all over West Michigan continue to comment how much they appreciate both bidding and building from our documents.  Most importantly, our client’s have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their projects have been thoroughly detailed, and carefully designed.    

Our clients also appreciate our ability to help them throughout the design process in keeping their project on budget, and we have an excellent track record to prove it.  We have developed an excellent reputation for delivering our projects within the time frames that our clients give to us (sometimes quicker).  We can usually work faster than your group can get together to meet with us. 

Sharpen skills                                                                                                              You can be assured that your path and project will benefit from all of the instincts, abilities, and tools that we have sharpened over our many journeys, and CMO continues to hone the following “core actions”·    

Provide excellence in planning and design

Deliver  technically superior construction documents.

Utilize detailed and comprehensive communication with all parties during every aspect of the design and construction process.

Create an environment that fosters creativity, cooperative design discussions, and a genuine camaraderie.

Maintain relationships                                                                                                 The traits, values, and actions noted above have led to Cox Medendorp Olson Architects’ success over the last quarter century.  The principal way that we measure success is by the number of clients who enjoy our relationship-oriented approach, who come back to us for multiple projects, and who enthusiastically recommend us to others.  We value our role as a guide to our clients, enjoy the journeys we take together, and are humbled by the trust that they place in us.