William (Bill) Browne, Jr. FAIA, LEED AP founded RATIO Architects in 1982. Joining forces with Harold Garrison and Lee Alig, the three men opened a five-person firm that included Bill’s sister, as an interior designer, and a graduate architect. They called the firm HDG Architects (HDGA).
At the same time, Harold and Lee decided to set up a development company called Mansur Development Corporation. At that time, developers did a lot of historic work due to the 1976 Tax Reform Act which provided significant tax credits for rehabilitated historic buildings. Working in concert with Mansur, HDGA won its first project – a $10 million rehabilitation of the historic 1901 Century Building in downtown Indianapolis. In the years to follow, Browne and Mansur Development worked on other historic preservation projects around the city.
Eventually, Garrison and Alig decided to focus solely on the development company. Bill became president of the architectural firm in 1985, and two years later became the sole proprietor and changed the firm’s name to RATIO Architects.
Designing large-scale, complex projects took years of experience and a multi-step learning process before attaining acceptance in the marketplace. Through the early years, RATIO continued to lead efforts to renovate and restore historic buildings. Then, the design firm graduated to doing additions to these historic buildings. Soon later, the firm took existing buildings that were in important historic contexts, stripped them down to their frames, sometimes added floors, and then re-skinned the frame with a new look.
Throughout the early years, the firm partnered with national firms, giving RATIO an opportunity to learn not only logistically and pragmatically how to run these projects, but how to design them and what to think about. Those associations helped nurture the firm’s teamwork approach.
Finally, RATIO graduated to doing brand-new buildings.
After 26 years, RATIO has evolved to a firm of almost 90 designers and administrative staff. The firm’s client list has grown right along with its areas of design expertise. Since 1982, the firm has established new client relationships, begun designing more complex projects and addressed the challenges associated with creating environmentally conscious buildings.