Frederick Ward Associates
“We are community builders,” Craig Ward says of Frederick Ward Associates, the Harford County-based architectural design firm he leads. “We help build, evolve and support the community.”
From the actual sites designed by its architects and engineers to the company’s involvement in various civic activities, the sense of “community” is evident. A significant contributor to Harford County development since 1955, Frederick Ward Associates (FWA) is a collaborative group of professionals offering architecture, engineering, planning and surveying services in a boutique structure for public and private sector clients. The firm’s work can be found throughout the County and the region in medical, educational, retail and corporate complexes. Ward says he is most proud of the contribution the company has made to the growth and maturation of the community.
“To look around and know that we were part of the Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Harford Community College, our public schools, our parks, Box Hill, Forest Lakes, the Festival, and the infrastructure that supports these and our many other projects makes me very proud,” he notes.
Ward was 12 years old when he began working at the firm founded by his father, Frederick Ward. He remembers bringing coffee and running errands, then later learning to draw and draft. After earning a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering at the University of Maryland, he took a 10-year hiatus from the Bel Air area, working at other architectural firms as far away as California. “It was a good experience to work at other firms and it was invaluable when I came back (to FWA). I was able to combine my experiences to help our company thrive,” Ward explains.
FWA began as a land surveying and residential subdivision service company, but it kept pace with market developments and client needs by adding municipal engineering in the 1960s, architecture services, landscape architecture and environmental planning in the 1980s and GPS surveying in the 1990s. After partnering with three other architects and engineers to buy the firm upon his father’s retirement in 1993, Ward continued to develop the business. He assumed the role of president in 2004, and faced significant challenges.
“There is no doubt that the recession has been the most difficult period in our almost 60 years in business,” Ward says. “We are dependent on construction activity for our work and when there is no construction, there is no work. We have had to evolve and make very difficult decisions to survive.”
Ward attributes that survival to the company’s care and support of its clients in a changing market with complex regulations. “We stand behind our clients and our work 100 percent. It isn’t easy in a world where we are creating something from nothing and trying to meet hard and defined budgets and schedules,” Ward explains. Indeed, the company’s branding tagline, “Clients First, Quality Always,” communicates its business priorities.
Add to that Ward’s biggest career influencer – his father – and the result is a high bar for success. “He had the philosophy of being a constant and visible ambassador for the company – always give back to the community, give the staff the resources and authority to use their talent to benefit our clients, and keep an eye on the cash,” Ward says of his father.
FWA has built a reputation in the Mid-Atlantic region for high-quality work. The company has also diversified and won clients in federal and local government, as well as corporations. Using a team-centered approach, the architects, designers and engineers work closely with clients to meet their objectives. The team incorporates sustainable design into every project, striving for economic, social and environmental sustainability. In addition, they help their clients create buildings that make sense both in structure and in land use. Ward, who has been involved in Maryland land use and environmental policy for over 25 years, shares his wisdom on the subject in his I95 BUSINESS “Expert Opinion” column.
FWA continues to be an interwoven part of the fabric of the Harford County community, with employees personally participating in community organizations and the company providing various corporate sponsorships and outreach programs. Among them are the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County, Habitat for Humanity and The ARC. Ward, himself, finds great rewards by helping organizations like the YMCA and the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, where he headed the task force that created the group that is focused on economic development in the historic downtown. Under his guidance, the Maryland BBQ Bash was born, and he contributed to the Main Street reconstruction, the Armory Community Center and the creation of Frederick Y. Ward Park.
“I love Bel Air, and it has been very fulfilling to be part of this evolution in the Town,” Ward says. I95
Frederick Ward Associates