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Architect Brown goes full circle with move

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Close review: Colin Campbell and Beryl Brown of OBMI (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A pioneering Bermudian architect has joined one of the island’s top architectural firms.

Beryl Brown became the first registered female architect in Bermuda when she was admitted to the American Institute of Architects in 1994.

Now, after operating architecture and interior design firm The Studio Ltd as managing director for some three decades, Ms Brown has joined OBM International Architecture as a senior architect consultant. Founded in Bermuda 83 years ago, OBMI now has eight offices worldwide.

Ms Brown says The Studio has been reduced so she is able to continue to manage the firm as well as to work in her new role at OBMI. Much of the client work and inventory at The Studio has been sold, she said. Some clients have followed Ms Brown to OBMI and several projects remain at The Studio, in design phases or under construction.

Ms Brown is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, New York, where she studied fine arts and pre-architecture, and Yale University, where she earned a master’s degree in architecture.

The move to OBMI brings Ms Brown full circle; she was once an architecture student at the firm. She said the move, made in February, has been a good one.

“It was time to change course a little bit,” she said. “This will give me the time and opportunity to do the things that when you own a company, you don’t have the time to do, like travel, painting, having lunch with friends.

“I always wanted to have my own firm — that was one of my dreams and I did it. Here at OBMI, I have more freedom, more time to come and go and that takes a lot of stress and weight off my shoulders. The move feels great. It’s a long haul when you’re wearing many hats. It’s already an exciting journey at OBMI. It’s been wonderful.”

Colin Campbell, a regional director at OBMI, has known Ms Brown socially and professionally for some 30 years. Michele Smith, OBMI’s managing director, Bermuda, has also known Ms Brown for a considerable time. Mr Campbell says he began informal discussions with Ms Brown about how to align their practices about six years ago. Those discussions gained momentum six months ago.

“Beryl and OBMI are so aligned in our outlook, our culture, our approach to design and all the things that matter most to us and our clients,” Mr Campbell said. “Having to focus on the back office, on things like timekeeping, wears people down, particularly those that have an artistic inclination.

“Beryl is established in this community, a go-to person that clients follow because they believe in what she believes in. Having someone with Beryl’s experience is an enormous resource for the young men and women in our office who we constantly train. She can pass on her architectural understanding for the benefit of the next generation.”

He added: “For me, it’s also nice to know that there is another ‘big kid’ in the room. We are very busy on several projects now, which means that I am out a lot. When I’m gone, the big kids know what to do.”

Collegial approach: Colin Campbell and Beryl Brown of OBMI (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Sharing opinions: Colin Campbell and Beryl Brown of OBMI (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)