Overland the Pheasant
When people tour our office for the first time, inevitably one of the questions asked is, “Who is Mr. Overland?” That’s easy enough to answer—I am. It all began in 1987 in the living room of one of our founding principals. Imagine it: four college friends committed to a lifelong friendship, reuniting after a period of time apart, each having gained unique experiences working for premier firms in architecture, construction, and real estate development.
Tim Blonkvist participated in a fellowship at the Royal Danish Academy, worked and lived in Switzerland, and garnered additional experience under the world-renowned I.M. Pei & Partners in New York City. Madison Smith received his master’s degree in business administration, specializing in real estate and regional science, from Southern Methodist University, later working for one of the largest real estate developers in the nation. Rick Archer worked for premier architectural firms in Washington, DC, collaborating on some of the most important historic preservation projects for our country. Fellow University of Texas alum, Robert Schmidt, spent some time abroad in Europe and then served as a construction engineer for a firm in Dallas.
In 1987, after spending over 5 years apart, they decided it was time to “get the band back together.” Sharing the perspective that architecture is a means of bringing communities together, they set forth to create a firm that establishes a platform to achieve our collective aspirations. Subsequently, they developed what we pheasants work to live up to every day – our mission statement, “Modeling how we should live and influencing the world through the practice of architecture.”
Now came the challenge of naming the firm. Knowing that the firm would be bigger than any (or all) of them, the founding partners chose to forego an eponymous title. After hours of brainstorming, and, let’s face it, at the point of frustration, one of the partners looked up to the majestic (if I do say so myself) stuffed pheasant sitting on the mantle and said, “The pheasant has a better name than we do.” On my plaque reads the name “Overland”—calling to mind abstract ideas of landscape and grandeur. In the subsequent 27 years, Overland has become a diverse group of 70 professionals, collaborating on significant projects and developing relationships with meaningful clients to fulfill our mission throughout the world. I proudly sit atop of the Traditions Wall in our office, with a bird’s eye view over all the “pheasants” who bring creative, honorable meaning to the name, Overland.