Bob Dunn, a part-owner of Fox Architects in St. Louis, said he looks forward to driving his grandkids by what will soon be the new Tim Horton’s and Reliance Bank building in O’Fallon.
That’s because Dunn’s firm designed the it. He said he’s proud to be a part of development in the town where he now lives.
Dunn grew up in East St. Louis, graduated from Belleville West High School and joined Fox Architects in 1991.
Q. What drew you to architecture?
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A. “Architects are cursed with loving what they do. You don’t get into the profession to be the wealthiest individual. We mostly just enjoy solving problems. I got into the profession because I wanted to better a place. A work place, a living place. Whether it’s a restaurant or racket ball, we want to make them better for people.”
Q. Why was it important for you to stay close to home?
A. “That’s family. I worked in Chicago from this firm for about a year and a half. But I stayed local primarily because it’s just a comfort zone. St. Louis and the metropolitan area are considered to be big city with small-town characteristics. There’s a lot here to offer. It’s family and the community.”
Q. Does it make you feel differently about your work to have a hand in designing something where you live?
A. “It definitely does because I can drive my grandkids there. There’s nothing more important than that. Now that I have six grandkids, it’ll be something to be able to drive them by, and go there, and be able to say ‘Paw Paw designed this.’ There’s a real pride to that. And I’ve always wanted to do more over there.”
Q. Is architecture one of those canary industries that can point to the health of an economy as a whole? Is the firm busy?
A. “We are that. The hardest thing about our profession is the highs and lows. We get so extremely busy, and we can be so slow sometimes. We are busy right now.”
Q. What’s the idea behind having a Tim Horton’s and Reliance Bank share a building?
A. “I think the reason that Reliance and Tim Horton’s is getting together is because banking is becoming electronic. Bricks and mortar for a bank is just a loss leader. They do it just to do it, and because there are Baby Boomers out there who still want it. So to capture the Millennials, what do they do differently than any other generation before? I’ll be darned if it’s not buy expensive coffee. Though Tim Horton’s is a very modest coffee price compared to other vendors. So they’re thinking they can attract the young people. They’re going to drive through, see the bank. It’s all about the coffee. No one thought of it, no one’s doing it, but when you say it to another banker, they all look at you and wonder if there’s a patent on that. Because it really makes sense. A lot of businesses see the power of the younger generation. We have to dig into that future.”