All Publications 2017 – Great Lakes By Design V1 I6

Profile of Robert Sears
Sears Architects

Credit: Great Lakes By Design and R. J. Weick

       “I knew what I wanted to do. So many people don’t have a passion or a clear direction for their career,” Sears said. “I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was in sixth grade. I’ve always wanted to have a storefront office like we have now, so I geared my whole education and job experience toward that.”

       “I like shingle-style architecture and that East Coast vernacular. It is probably one of my favorites. I think I learned more about architecture in my one year on Nantucket and my two years in Connecticut than I did in six years of education in college,” Sears said. “My time out east definitely influenced our work that you see.”

       Honing in on the typology and region for his storefront firm, Sears then moved to Chicago where he spent time working at another high-end, custom residential firm in Evanston before moving back to Michigan to launch Sears Architects in the mid-90s. Today, Sears Architects sits along Ionia Ave. in Grand Rapids with its passive windows facing toward the bustling city streets. From its brick and mortar location, the firm’s team provides a suite of design and planning services to clients and has worked with private individuals, developers, and historic residential associations within the state, and as far as Seattle, New Jersey, and Florida.

       The firm manages typically 15-to-20 projects at a time, all of which are in different phases of the process, and has done new construction home and cottage, additions and  historic renovations, mixed-use and hospitality space, and neighborhood design and planning. While Sears said he thinks the firm’s success has allowed a degree of tailoring what type of project they are able to work on, it is the anticipation and chase of a job, and ultimately the challenge of a new design project that gets him through the door every day.