Nick Schoenfeldt Partner and Vice President (left), Rich Emery AIA – President and Design Partner (right), Miami Valley Gaming Casino and Race Track, located in Lebanon, Ohio.
Nick Schoenfeldt Partner and Vice President (left), Rich Emery AIA – President and Design Partner (right), Miami Valley Gaming Casino and Race Track, located in Lebanon, Ohio.
Thalden Boyd Emery Architects Move Forward as Thalden Retires

After 42 years in the industry leading the architectural firm Thalden Boyd Emery Architects, Barry Thalden is stepping down from his partnership role for a life of retirement and handing the reins to his former partners and coworkers.

Although the transition means that Rich Emery will take over leading the company, he’s no newbie to the industry or the company.

“I feel great about Rich taking over,” Thalden said. “Rich started with the firm as a summer intern 32 years ago. He and I have run the firm for many years now and he has been in charge of the design of the projects. When it comes down to it, he’s the right guy to do this.”

With two architectural degrees from the University of Kansas, Emery began with the firm straight out of college in 1982. Over the years, he worked his way up through the ranks filling nearly every job available in the firm until he became part owner and took over the position of director of design, providing the firm with one of its major transitions that continues to define the company today.

“One of the things we are known for is our unique design. Originally the company was a service firm, and as that it was difficult for the firm to achieve notoriety for design. That was one of the things I insisted that if I was going to take over the role of director of design we had to focus on,” Emery said. “I was able to transform the office into a design firm, and we’ve been that ever since, while still maintaining the service side as well.”

With a resume jam-packed with the firm’s projects, Emery continues his architectural journey by stepping up to lead the company. While the restructuring of Thalden Boyd Emery Architects means there will be a new face leading the company forward, it’s business as usual for everyone involved.

“We don’t see this as that big of a transition. We will continue to provide the responsive service that we’re known for and continue to produce impactful and unique buildings,” Emery said. “One thing we’ve always been able to achieve and will continue to achieve is being able to make clients extremely successful and dominate in competitive situations.”

Emery’s step-up in managing the company isn’t the only change for Thalden Boyd Emery Architects. In addition to Emery’s new visionary role, company Vice President Nick Schoenfeldt, who has been with the firm for 15 years, will be taking on a new role as a partner, while maintaining his position as vice president.

It’s a new transition as key players switch, but for the firm it’s a new internal development process of transitioning visionary focus to an all-encompassing team effort and paving the way for more ambitious architects to have a space to grow, learn and flourish in the industry.

“We’re going into the second generation of the company, and Rich, Chief and I are very vocal about making sure we lay the groundwork for a third, fourth and fifth generation for the company so that it’s not a onetime thing, but becomes a more fluid process for the long term,” Schoenfeldt said.

The phrase “build it and they will come” may have applied in the past, but with new advancements in design, engineering and desires, it takes more than a few slabs of concrete to create a masterpiece. For decades, Thalden Boyd Emery Architects has continued to refine its customer service, responsiveness and the detail of design to provide customers with a truly unique presentation in order to efficiently produce the greatest return on investment.

With offices in St. Louis, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla., the company’s history includes work with more than 200 casinos and more than 400 hotels and resort projects, many of which were Native American hospitality- and gaming-focused.

While design emphasis has been instilled in the company’s efforts, customer service remains at the top of its strengths. In recent years, Thalden Boyd Emery Architects was named The Most Responsive Architectural Firm in the Country in the PSMJ Client Satisfaction Awards among architects and engineers. In regard to its projects, many have been honored with top design awards for being the “best,” “most creative” or “sexiest.”

Thalden Boyd Emery Architects has another strong point to its credit—the experience infused into the firm by partner Chief Boyd, one of the most well-known Native American architects in the industry. Boyd brings his Cherokee heritage, Native American passion and more than 40 years of industry experience to the firm and is the reason Thalden Boyd Emery Architects can call itself a Native American firm.

“My Indian heritage became a major focus on my work, and although I’ve done other things, my passion has been working for Indian country,” Boyd said. “I see the company in the future servicing Indian country projects. I know we’ll do other things, but my main focus in the firm is the Native American undertakings.”

Chief Boyd AIA – Partner (left), Barry Thalden AIA – Founder of Thalden Boyd Emery Architects (right)
Chief Boyd AIA – Partner (left), Barry Thalden AIA – Founder of Thalden Boyd Emery Architects (right)
While Boyd and Vice President of Business Development Linda Roe continue developing relationships with the Native American gaming market, the firm has filled a business development position to focus on commercial business in hospitality and gaming markets.

“It’s a market we have always seen and worked in but not a market we focused on,” said Schoenfeldt. “We’re trying to build a better base. Most of our work has always included hotels, restaurants, event centers and nightclubs, so it’s only logical that we move more into commercial-based gaming, as well as those other amenities that we consider amenities to a gaming facility, while still always being hospitality-focused all the time.”

With hundreds of projects in its portfolio, including Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa; Buffalo Thunder Resort; Firekeepers Casino Hotel; Indigo Sky Casino; and the new Miami Valley Gaming facility, Thalden Boyd Emery Architects work to fill the void left from Thalden’s retirement and continue to move forward with innovative projects and designs. The firm’s current and upcoming projects include making significant changes and renovations to San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, Calif., creating new additions to the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes’ Sugar Creek Casino in Hinton, Okla., and designing a new look throughout the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Ill.

“There really is no hesitation moving forward,” Emery said. “I’ve been with the company for 32 years, have been running the St. Louis office for 25 years and running the design department for most of that time, so for us, in house, it’s not a big transition. It’s just a minor change for how the company operates.”

As with any company over time, changes will occur. With Thalden retiring, staff members said, a name change for the company may transpire down the road, but the company’s work won’t change. When it comes to the firm’s dedication to providing clients with unique and profitable projects, clients are assured they won’t see any falter in work productivity or project quality and the company that Thalden has built over decades will continue to flourish.

“It feels like this is an opportunity to step back, overview it all and be in celebration of a great career,” Thalden said. “This is a company that went from zero to all that we are in 42 years so what could happen in the next decade or two could be amazing. Thalden Boyd Emery Architects has become a much bigger idea than one person’s imagination. It is a team of dedicated and creative people that continue to make magic happen. The firm has unlimited potential because all the key people that design the projects and manage the projects are still there and have the opportunity to really take off using their own wings. I see that as a tremendous potential for the future.”

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