Design firm’s work on display in Adrian

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Adrian Design GroupBy Arlene Bachanov

When the economic downturn led to their getting laid off by their employer, Mike Nicklowitz, Bryan Autullo and Kay Barber turned the situation into a positive by starting up their own architectural and interior design firm in Adrian.

Adrian Design Group, at 126 E. Church St., got its start in March after Nicklowitz, Autullo and Barber were laid off by the Meier Group, an architectural firm with offices in Adrian and Ann Arbor, and decided to go into business for themselves. Their operations are housed where architect David Siler had his offices until his retirement.

“With Dave Siler retiring, it was a wide-open market,” Autullo said.

It didn’t take long for their work to be visible in Adrian. The firm recently completed the design work for the façade restorations of five downtown buildings: the H&R Block Building, Robert Jewelers, the Barley House Tavern, Joe Ann Steele Insurance and Copeland Furniture.

“That’s worked out really well,” said Nicklowitz, who’s the firm’s principal.

The trio has many years’ experience between them, working on a wide range of building projects in Lenawee County and throughout the region from Ann Arbor to Toledo and everywhere in between. 
“We’ve done multimillion-dollar projects,” said Autullo, Adrian Design Group’s project manager. “Hospitals, high-rises, nursing homes, you name it, we’ve done it.”

Nicklowitz and Barber, the firm’s interior designer — she works with clients on a project’s interior look and, said Autullo, “does a fantastic job of it” — are both LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, meaning they can work with clients on “green” building technologies that reduce energy usage.

Nicklowitz earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Lawrence Technological University and his master’s in architecture from the University of Michigan. Autullo has a bachelor’s degree in engineering construction from the University of Toledo. Barber earned her bachelor’s degree in interior design from Michigan State University.

Working as an architect came naturally to Nicklowitz. “I was always building things when I was young,” he said. “I loved to draw and was good with math and science.”

As for Autullo, “whenever there was a new house going up in my neighborhood, I was always the kid sneaking in to look at it.” Seeing how everything comes together in a building project “was always just an interest of mine,” he said. And now, when he works on a construction project, “seeing the payoff is really rewarding.”

The Adrian Design Group works with the latest tools of the trade — drawing designs by hand is “all a thing of the past,” Nicklowitz said — including three-dimensional modeling that’s a new and very useful innovation, since building owners can find it very helpful even after the structure is operational.

“Three-D design is really the new wave. … I’m really glad we’re on the front end of this,” Nicklowitz said.

Nicklowitz and Autullo said they and Barber are all very pleased to be working in Adrian and to have their offices in the historic fire house building. “We wanted to be centrally located, and we knew this building is an icon,” said Autullo.

“I’m excited about this new firm,” Nicklowitz said. “We’re glad to be part of the community.”

And, he said, any company or other business needing the firm’s expertise can count on one thing from its three members. “If you work with us, you get our A team,” he said, adding with a laugh: “We have no B team.”

The Adrian Design Group’s office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The firm’s phone number is 265-2700.

Lenawee in Business is a feature of The Daily Telegram business page for new businesses, companies that have expanded their facilities and businesses celebrating a major anniversary.