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Steve Holzhauer, Eppstein Uhen Architects

IB Wisconsin's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Steve Holzhauer, managing principal of Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Business Address: 222 West Washington Ave., Suite 650, Madison, WI 53703
Milwaukee Office: 333 East Chicago St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: 608-442-6688
Email: steveh@eua.com
Website: www.eua.com
Birthplace: Milwaukee
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Malinda Abel
Organizations: Madison Downtown Rotary, DMI, USGBC
Education: Master of Architecture, UW-Milwaukee; Bachelor of Science, UW-Milwaukee

Steve, how long have you been at EUA, and what is your role as managing principal?
Since 1996, I have been planning exciting projects at EUA. I am blessed to be involved in all aspects of this modern and talented design team. I work with clients to help them realize their building vision; I manage a local team of designers and planners; and I am involved in the strategic planning of our business. I am a stickler for details and enjoy being a cheerleader for great craftsmanship and quality.

Who, outside of EUA, has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
By far my professors at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning influenced my career the most. The school helped me to direct my creativity and channel my energy intellectually. Bob Greenstreet and his excellent colleagues have brought enduring passion for teaching the art of design and the talent for complex problem solving.

What do you read to help keep you current and/or what trade associations or training do you belong to that you would recommend?
I read High Performance Buildings, a monthly magazine featuring remarkable new projects. I read Architectural Record, Interior Design, Contract, and Metropolis. I watch how other companies like Apple, Harley-Davidson, GE, Ford, and others use design to create a competitive advantage. For local industry news, I read In Business and The Business Journal. 

What was a personal high point in your career?
Last month we earned our third LEED Gold-Certified award in 2012. Our crew here is doing great work and our clients are asking for high-performing, beautiful buildings. EUA is designing a variety of building types, but our focus on performance applies to every project.

What long-range goal would you like to achieve before leaving your firm?
My goal is to educate clients and mentor young designers to create truly American-made buildings. I hope to see a return to the pride of craftsmanship that was common in earlier days.

When you were in high school, what were your career aspirations?
I loved working with wood and metal in high school. In 1978, I was on a waiting line to become a carpenter apprentice in Milwaukee. The trades were so popular then that I had to wait! I wanted to build things. I miss working with the raw materials by hand, but I am building more than I ever imagined.

What did you do with your first paycheck?
My first paycheck after six years of college and a master’s degree was $320. New grad salary in 1985 was $8 per hour.

You have to keep your eye on the business as well as the profession; did you have any entrepreneurial interests at a young age?
As a boy, I took care of six different lawns in my neighborhood. I posted notices at the grocery store and did small jobs for $1.65 an hour. In college, I painted houses by day and did estimates at night. We worked hard but we did a great job at modest price and made a nice bit through the summer.

Have you always lived in Wisconsin?
Raised in Brookfield, Wis. I recall the Circus Parade and downtown fireworks at Milwaukee’s lakefront each year. The smell of beer and yeast are imprinted in me as the smell of home.

Steve, what do you do “beyond the office” that brings you happiness or relaxation?

I am happiest when I am exploring someplace new. I love to visit the great places again. Time flies when I have my girl on the back and we are riding my motorcycle somewhere away. When she and I are meeting people we have a lot of fun. A day trip to Miller Park for a Brewer game has all the ingredients for an exciting and fun adventure.

Working for an architectural firm … does that carry over into your personal life and space?
In 2009, Malinda and I completely renovated a 1949 post-war ranch. We gutted the structure to the bones and then added onto it. We did all the demolition together and designed all the details to include American-made products. We live in a very walkable downtown neighborhood and love access to restaurants, pubs, and trails.

With all the activities – and work – at the office and at home, do you have time to read for pleasure? Have a title you’d recommend?

Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson was influential. I found real lessons in Jobs’ passion for detail and his drive to build a good product. For fun, I like to read Car & Driver or Motorsport magazine. I have read a few James Patterson novels with great interest.

Motorsports … is this a guilty pleasure? Something people might not know about you?
These days I would like to be a NASCAR driver. I am excited by speed and not afraid of the risk. Being a smart driver is the key. I like Matt Kenseth’s style.

Steve, what is your assessment of where the Wisconsin economy is headed?
Wisconsin, like the U.S. in general, has lost its innocence and in many ways had become bloated and ignorant prior to the recession in 2008. We became too needy, and the things we needed were cheaply made and disposable. I think Wisconsin has a long history of good, hardworking ethics, but losing manufacturing jobs over the last 40 years has left a large population with less marketable skills. There are still many talented and tireless craftsmen here, and both men and women are eager to build products that are well made and durable. Politics are not making things easy, but if Wisconsin is to succeed, it will require a return to old-fashioned, do-it-yourself ethics with a focus on neighborhood and less on self.

How do we compare to other states?
Compared to many other states, we have a lot to offer. But we have to be more forward-thinking and invest in direct and efficient rail transportation while rebuilding our downtown centers with high-speed data communications and desirable housing.

Now we come to the last, but perhaps hardest question: Can you select three words you think best describe you?
Tireless, creative, silly.

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