OTTUMWA — Faithe-Built Architecture isn’t your typical firm. Founder Ben Foote said it’s faith-based.
“What makes us different is the giving that drives us,” he said, “not the business. It’s the giving that drives us not the project. All our focus is on how much can we give, how much we can give of our talents, our skills, financially. That’s our biggest difference and we’re able to do that without overcharging, and we’re actually low on fees compared to other firms.”
Foote wanted to have his own firm since high school and is celebrating its five-year anniversary. Before He worked for a number of firms in Missouri and Nebraska to gain experience before moving to Ottumwa to start his own company.
The move brought challenges. From losing his house and firms to recession, he couldn’t understand why God was doing these things. The big questions he asked God “why did you bring me here? Why are you making me go through all this?”
Foote didn’t get an answer right away, so he went through the process of getting his architecture license and putting together a business plan to move forward. The first order of business was deciding a name. The “e” on the end of Faithe-Built was an interesting one for him. He called a friend to tell her the good news and she suggested to put an “e” at the end of the name.
“The meaning of faith with an e at the end — what I found is its an old English spelling,” Foote explained. “It really used to be spelled that way in certain instances. The identification with the e talks about the action of faith. Once I saw that, I said, ‘that’s it.’ I gotta put it in because faith has to have action.”
In the past five years Foote has worked on building Southern Iowa Mental Health, Parkside Animal Hospital, a building at Cardinal school, Pipestone Veterinary Services, and work on the Hub.
Getting there wasn’t simple. Foote said it required lots of hard work from trying to get a feel for what the client needs and completing the drawings on time. Marketing is another challenge. The challenges keep him pushing forward and ambitious to grow expand his firm.
In Ottumwa, the most memorable project for him was the Hub. There were challenges, but there was a greater reward that outweighed the challenges. “The biggest reward is seeing the impact that project [had] and the people that are working through that project that are working through that project are having on our community. When it first opened up on that first floor we had a night of worship in the new auditorium. That was amazing.”
Bridge Pastor Marty Schmidt was proud of Foote’s work. “Faithe-Built Architect helped us dream, design, and develop space for our future growth,” Schmidt wrote on Faithe-Built’s website, “Ben Foote brought ideas and experience that allowed us to see a variety of options from which to choose from and move forward with. Faithe-Built Architecture positioned us to get the space we desired.”
Foote said every architect has their own way of coming up with the inspirations for their designs. While Foote said it is important to know what a building will look like, he said he can’t visualize the next steps unless he centers his focus on God first.
“By doing that I’m serving others,” he said, “That’s my primary focus everyday that I get up. He’s put me here in Ottumwa, Iowa for a reason. Every chance I get to serve this community — I want to take it.”
Then the designing comes into play. Each building he said is different, so each approach also has to be different.
“I look at buildings differently than most people,” he said, “buildings to me aren’t just walls and doors and windows and a roof. Buildings to me are space and the space being used for a specific purpose. It’s that space and purpose that I try to pull out of the building to communicate what that space is used for and how that space can be used for.”
Before Foote moves the firm forward, he said he can’t forget about the people who helped get him there. “I always said ‘we’ and the reason is I have always felt that the ownership of Faithe-Built isn’t me, its God. He’s placed me in charge of it, but he owns it,” he said. “When I say we, I mean me and God and anyone else he brings along to help me out. That’s a habit I created right away.”