When did you know you wanted to become an architect?

What advice would you 

 

  1. Wesley Curtis Jr. has been named president of Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects P.A., the Winston- Salem architectural, planning and interior design firm announced Tuesday.

Curtis will replace Larry Robbs who became the firm’s president in 1997. Robbs will continue as chairman of the firm’s board of directors, a role he has served in since 1997.

The firm also announced that Rence Callahan and Clark Pierce, both having served as vice presidents since 1980 and members of the firm’s board of directors, have been named to newly created roles as vice chairmen.

In addition, Steve Ulp, Matt Messick and Ken McDaniel have been named new vice presidents of the firm. Ulp, Messick and McDaniel are senior project architects and partners at Walter Robbs and have been part of the firm’s management team.

Larry Robbs said that the leadership transition is a natural evolution of the 50-year old firm and that its leaders have always planned for its natural progression, allowing people to develop within the firm.

“Wesley is an incredibly talented designer and has emerged not only as a highly respected architect throughout the region but also a vital leader of our local community,” Larry Robbs said. “Rence, Clark and I couldn’t be more thrilled for our friend and colleague as he assumes duties as president of our firm. We want to emphasize that each of us will continue his architecture work, including client relationships, leading design teams and mentoring other staff members.”

Curtis said that he will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company as president and will now lead the management team in helping make sure projects are accomplished weekly and for the year.

“The idea is that there’s no king at the top and the king tells everybody what to do,” he said of the management team. “It’s more of partners getting together. We all have different projects. We coordinate work going on currently in the office and plan for the future about other projects that we’re looking to go after.”

Larry Robbs added that Walter Robbs’ organization has been set up to have what are called sell-doers.

“In other words, we go out and secure the work and then we like to perform the work,” Larry Robbs said. “We all have areas of expertise.”

He said that all of them like to practice architecture.

“So we have spread out the duties of management and spread out the duties of marketing so we all can do both of those activities,” said Larry Robbs, who will continue to do marketing, client relationships, design and be an architect.

  1. Wesley Curtis Jr. has been named president of Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects P.A., the Winston- Salem architectural, planning and interior design firm announced Tuesday.

Curtis will replace Larry Robbs who became the firm’s president in 1997. Robbs will continue as chairman of the firm’s board of directors, a role he has served in since 1997.

The firm also announced that Rence Callahan and Clark Pierce, both having served as vice presidents since 1980 Thirty-two years ago, architect L. Wesley Curtis Jr. and his wife embarked upon an ambitious plan. They would choose three cities where they would live for five years each. At the end of their 15-year experiment, they would settle on the most ideal place to raise a family.

The native Tennessean had heard positive things about the Raleigh-Durham area and started looking at North Carolina. In 1980, Cynthia Curtis, now the media coordinator at Hanes Middle School, accepted a job with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. Wesley Curtis began work with the architecture firm of Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce.

The plan was a happy flop. The two other cities were never chosen. The Curtis family remains in Winston-Salem, content where they first landed.

“We really liked it. We got involved in our church. We had our first child and then our second and third. We stayed,” said Wesley Curtis.

Meanwhile, Curtis, a partner and senior project architect at the firm, has become the “go-to” guy for designing Winston-Salem/Forsyth County’s latest high schools. In 2005, Curtis ushered in a new chapter of high school construction when Reagan and Atkins high schools were built with his designs.

His latest projects, the new Career Center and Walkertown High School, were completed this school year.

Curtis, the son of two educators, fell in love with architecture at an early age. His father taught drafting and always had a T-square with him. Wesley Curtis picked up the skill and developed a true love for drawing and creating buildings.

“They stressed finding something I enjoyed doing,” Curtis said. “They constantly encouraged me to the point that I never gave up. When I got into the University of Tennessee and they started weeding out students, I kept asking myself, ‘Why am I here?’ My parents’ encouragement was very instrumental.”

He grew up during integration, attending an all African-American school until the fourth grade. He does not recall the integration process as a negative event, but one that fostered curiosity for him and his classmates.

“It was such a benefit for us to become exposed to each other. Most fears proved to be unfounded,” Curtis said.

Wesley and Cynthia Curtis met when they were students at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. After graduating from the university’s School of Architecture, Wesley Curtis accepted a job in Nashville, Tenn., with one of the oldest African-American firms in the country. A few years later, Curtis and his wife moved to Winston-Salem.

High schools in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth system have been constructed in waves. Only a handful of high schools served the county until East Forsyth High School was built in 1962. By 1966, North, West, Parkland, Mount Tabor and a renovated Carver were added to the fold.

Later came Curtis’ high schools.

“(Design) is a joint effort. You find out what kinds of spaces and then throw the chips in the air and come up with various concepts. What they don’t teach in school is how to flush out what the client really wants,” said Curtis, who designed his own house in Lake Park.

Combining the needs and the wants with the money available is a fun process for Curtis, especially when glitches are worked out and all of the aspects come together for a completed structure, he said.

Buddy Collins, school district board member and chairman of the district’s Building and Grounds Committee, feels that Curtis has a unique talent in site placement.

“There is no better example than the Career Center and the vistas you can see of the city,” Collins said. “At Walkertown, he used different elevations for a very attractive view of the school inside and out. Wesley is both creative and hardworking. His projects come in so economically, with pricing half of what Guilford County has spent on similar schools.”

Darrell Walker, assistant superintendent for the district, enjoys working with Curtis, calling him a “personable guy who works well with a team.”

Walker appreciates Curtis’ understanding of budget constraints, adding that Curtis can take a rectangular building and add splashes of interest and architectural detail where limited resources would seem to prohibit it. The curving staircase at the Career Center is one example of great design on a restricted budget, he said.

“He provides great value for the dollars we have to spend,” said Walker.

Curtis gives back to the community, too, serving as the vice chairman of the City-County Planning Board. He enjoys speaking at schools’ career days. One of the most frequent questions from the students is how much money he makes. He redirects students’ focus, just as his own parents did for him.

“I tell them to find what you love doing and money will follow. Money is not the point; happiness is,” Curtis said.

and members of the firm’s board of directors, have been named to newly created roles as vice chairmen.

In addition, Steve Ulp, Matt Messick and Ken McDaniel have been named new vice presidents of the firm. Ulp, Messick and McDaniel are senior project architects and partners at Walter Robbs and have been part of the firm’s management team.

Larry Robbs said that the leadership transition is a natural evolution of the 50-year old firm and that its leaders have always planned for its natural progression, allowing people to develop within the firm.

“Wesley is an incredibly talented designer and has emerged not only as a highly respected architect throughout the region but also a vital leader of our local community,” Larry Robbs said. “Rence, Clark and I couldn’t be more thrilled for our friend and colleague as he assumes duties as president of our firm. We want to emphasize that each of us will continue his architecture work, including client relationships, leading design teams and mentoring other staff members.”

Curtis said that he will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company as president and will now lead the management team in helping make sure projects are accomplished weekly and for the year.

“The idea is that there’s no king at the top and the king tells everybody what to do,” he said of the management team. “It’s more of partners getting together. We all have different projects. We coordinate work going on currently in the office and plan for the future about other projects that we’re looking to go after.”

Larry Robbs added that Walter Robbs’ organization has been set up to have what are called sell-doers.

“In other words, we go out and secure the work and then we like to perform the work,” Larry Robbs said. “We all have areas of expertise.”

He said that all of them like to practice architecture.

“So we have spread out the duties of management and spread out the duties of marketing so we all can do both of those activities,” said Larry Robbs, who will continue to do marketing, client relationships, design and be an architect.

 

  1. Wesley Curtis, Jr., AIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C

President

Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects, PA

 

H: 2731 Wallingford Rd, Winston Salem, NC 27101

W: 530 N. Trade St., Ste. 301, Winston Salem, NC 27101

www.walterrobbs.com

 

Wesley was born and raised in Athens, Tennessee. Upon graduating from college, he completed his internship with a firm in Nashville Tennessee. A few years later, he moved to Winston Salem with his wife and eventually joined Walter Robbs in 1986. He became an associate in 1990, later a partner and then President in 2016.

 

Wesley appreciates the opportunity to lead an architectural firm that values the client’s opinion above all else. By understanding that each client creates their own rule book, Wesley is able to effectively manage budgets to provide highly-specialized designs that realize the client’s vision. 

 

Communities are increasing eager to see sustainable, “green” design applied to their buildings. Wesley enjoys working with clients to deepen their understanding of these strategies and processes; demonstrating how environmentally-friendly design can be affordably and attractively integrated into both large and small projects.  

 

Wesley provides extra value for clients by advocating that each project achieve the highest level of design; not only is that good business, it’s the right thing to do. 

 

Wesley has more than thirty-six years of experience developing designs and contract documents for schools, office buildings, institutional and commercial projects.  His particular research interests include energy conservation, sustainable, “green” buildings, and utilizing technology in architecture. 

 

Personal:

Wife Cynthia, formerly a Chemical Engineer at RJR, now the Media Center Coordinator/Librarian at Reynolds High School

 

Children, Kristen (29), Lewis Wesley Curtis III (26), Michael (23)

*As of Jan. 2018

 

Education:

Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) degree from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Concentration on Building Design and Sustainable Architecture

 

Career Associations & Affiliations 

Wesley believes it’s important to be involved in activities that help pull the community together.

 

Selected Professional Organizations

American Institute of Architects (AIA) 

  • Piedmont Section past President
  • State Board of Directors

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

  • Piedmont Area representative 
  • State Board of Directors

 

Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI)

  • Triad Section representative
  • State Board of Directors

 

  1. S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
  • LEED* Accredited Professional

*Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

 

Selected Community Organizations 

Member, New Bethel Baptist Church for 31 years

  • Trustee Board for 20 years 
  • Deacon Board  for 11 years

Winston Salem Forsyth County Utility Commission

  • Vice Chairman

Executive Board, Old Hickory Council Boy Scouts of America

  • Eagle Scout

Simon G. Atkins CDC Board of Directors

  • Building Committee Chair

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning Board

  • Vice Chairman

Winston Salem/Forsyth County Community Appearance Commission

Forsyth County Deacon Union 

  • Executive Board 

Condensed Bio: 

  1. Wesley Curtis, Jr. joined the Winston-Salem design firm of Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects, PA (Walter Robbs) in 1986. He became an associate in 1990 and later a partner of the firm and member of the management team. Curtis became President of the firm in July 2016. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI). A 1981 graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he received a Bachelor of Architecture degree, Curtis is also NCARB Certified and LEED Accredited. 

An Eagle Scout, he serves on the board of the Old Hickory Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the board of the North Carolina Educational Facility Planners and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission. Curtis is a Deacon at New Bethel Baptist Church and also serves as a leader in other interdenominational groups across Forsyth County. In addition, he formerly served on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Community Appearance Commission, the board of Atkins Community Development Corporation and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning Board. Curtis and his wife Cynthia have three children.