We had the good fortune of connecting with christopher bittner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi christopher, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Who we are. We’re a delicate mixture of passionate talented misfits that spend way too much time together and love design. We’ve kind of boiled our success down to talent, honesty and bafoonery (not an actual word?). Talent is self-explanatory; without it, we’d never get hired to design anything anyway. The honesty part is something that my two partners (Garrick Oliver and Anney Rosenthal-Hall) and I made a promise to one another about at the very beginning and that we’ve held each other accountable to throughout the years. We all felt that there will never be a problem we couldn’t overcome as long as we were honest with each other, our employees and our clients. The last one really is the hardest one to define, but is the one that really gets to the heart of who we are. Architecture can be a grind. It is a profession to be taken seriously with years of schooling, lots of responsibility and liability, but that absolutely doesn’t mean you have to take yourself too seriously all the time. People should be supported and encouraged to laugh and be themselves at work. That sort of attitude translates directly into how clients and the community perceives us and is a big reason we grew to be a community hub for art and events, as well as, an architecture firm.
What should our readers know about your business?
One of the main reasons, if not THE main reason that my partners and I wanted to start our own business was that we wanted a better lifestyle. We wanted to be more than just architects. That’s why we integrated Art and Event into our name from the beginning. Initially, we started by participating in a monthly art walk called Ray at Night and we’d host a different artist every month (sometimes ourselves or our employees too) and we’d donate any income to art based non-profits. That led to us teaching art/architecture at local schools at no cost to the schools and hosting open houses and up until last march, we were having our own quarterly art shows, along with other special events. Through ideas like this, we became community hub and felt like we had achieved our goal of being more than just architects.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Paddle boarding at tidelands park, tour of our projects at the Del and dinner at Saiko Sushi in Coronado. Slushees at Fernside. Day at Arts District Liberty Station and the Loma Club. Padres day game and lunch at Sovereign Thai with a stop at the Quartyard and You & Yours after. Visit to the zoo with a glass off wine at Panama 66 after. Sunset cliffs at, well, sunset.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This could be a ridiculously long list over the last 13 years starting with all the amazing clients that put their trust in us, many of whom have become personal friends, to all our employees that have lent us their talents, to our friends and family that have supported us, our consultants that have helped us and on and on, so I’ll focus on those that played the biggest roles for me at the very start when this was all just an idea. The NTC Foundation organization has so many wonderful people that have supported us over the years, that again, I couldn’t list them all, but Alan Ziter, the Executive Director, was one of the main reasons obrARCHITECTURE even got off the ground. His support and trust has meant so much to me over the last 17 years of working together at the Arts District Liberty Station. My two Partners, Garrick Oliver and Anney Rosenthal-Hall, have been the perfect match for my crazy. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had followed through on my original plan to open a firm on my own. I credit much of my success to them. And finally, my wife, Lisa Bittner. Not just for the usual sappy, “my wife is awesome because she puts up with me” stuff (which is all true), but because she is highly successful in her own right in our industry (currently Senior VP of Business Dev at Nova Servicves and President CREW San Diego) and helped us early on develop ideas on business development and marketing and continues to help us with networking and project opportunities.