Building blocks

Local architect has designs on changing more than just structures.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Architect Steve Wolters, 50, may be new to Miron Construction Co. Inc., but he’s hardly new to Madison.

He earned his architectural degree from UW–Milwaukee and has 27 years of design and construction experience under his belt. In 1999, he accepted a job with Erdman where he focused on designing medical facilities around the country. In January, Wolters was hired as vice president of Madison operations for Neenah-based Miron where he’s now charged with growing the company’s health care business.

In this area, Miron is preparing to complete the new Alumni Park on the UW–Madison campus in October, it is starting renovations on the UW–School of Business, and it also just broke ground on the Gebhardt Building on East Washington Avenue, among other notable projects. Eventually, the company will relocate its Madison offices to the sixth floor of the Gebhardt Building, and Wolters is excited to be leading the design of that space.

In a recent discussion, we delved a bit further.

IB: You say you always wanted to be an architect. Explain.
I was always good at drawing and doing artwork, but at some point figured that a successful career in art would be difficult. Tinker Toys and Legos inspired me.

IB: How has your transition from Erdman to Miron gone?
I’m seeing things from a different perspective. I’m an architect working for a general contractor. Some joke that I’ve joined the “dark side.”

IB: What value does that new perspective bring?
I’ve seen a lot of flaws in the design and construction industries, such as communication issues. I know how architects see the world. My goal is to bring very smart people together in a more collaborative, communicative way so we all can do great things together.

IB: How do you accomplish that?
You believe in people and in doing things for a common cause. It’s all about the presentation and how you present things. We’re a construction firm. I want us to think more collaboratively and strategically to make the journey better. Perhaps I’m a realist, but I’ll continue to be so.

IB: How would you describe the current state of the local construction industry?
Everybody is extremely busy, which is good for the economy, the people, employees, and families. I don’t see that slowing down, but it also adds pressure to make sure the services and facilities we provide don’t diminish in quality so we can still make our schedules, budgets, and keep our promises.



IB: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Finding quality people for the amount of work that we have. We’re all searching for the same thing — good, hard-working people. Everyone’s trying to fill the plate. My perspective is if we don’t have the people to do things based on the quality of work expected by Miron, we might turn down a job. Luckily, we haven’t had to do that yet.

IB: Has technology helped or hindered architecture?
When I started we were still drafting by hand. Then the computer took us to AutoCAD (computer-aided design). Now, nearly every firm uses advanced technology to design and build buildings virtually before any holes are put in the ground. It has helped our profession tremendously.

My frustration through the years, though, is that even with the quickness of emails and text messages, the process is often still broken. There are broken budgets, schedules missed, drawings not coordinated — there really is no excuse in this day and age to miscommunicate. The industry needs to do better.

IB: You help design structures that may long outlast you. What do you want your legacy to be?
I don’t want to be remembered as a great architect. I want to be remembered as a great friend, husband, father, brother, and son. I love my job, but that’s not what makes me who I am. It’s about having integrity and being honest and true.

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