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105 Years of Studio 6 Architects with President Shannon Reith

2 min read

Shannon Reith, born and raised in Fort Smith, joined Studio 6 immediately after graduation when the firm was known as Laser Guest Hendrix & Reddick. He primarily serves as project designer and manager.

Reith graduated from University of Arkansas School of Architecture in 1993 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree.

Tell us a little about the 105-year history of Studio 6 and how you came to be its president. Do you specialize in any category of architecture?

Studio 6 Architects is proud to be the inheritors of quite an architectural heritage here in Fort Smith. As you can imagine, over that many years, there are many notable buildings our predecessor firms have produced. It started with the Haralson and Nelson firm in 1919. The firm has gone through eight name changes and is now on its fifth president, yours truly. While under the leadership of Mr. Nelson and Bob Laser, the firm was heavily into health care design, working on both the original Sparks Hospital (now Baptist) and St. Edward Hospital (now Mercy Fort Smith), as well as other hospitals all over the state. Under the leadership of Gordon Guest and James Reddick, we diversified, and that continues with Studio 6 Architects. We like to take on a variety of projects because it keeps things interesting. I’ve been with the firm for 31 years now and was proud to be selected by my partners to assume the role of president.

What new features do your clients want in the buildings you design?

I’m not sure they’re so new, but our clients love comfortable gathering spaces, both indoors and out. Multifunctional spaces with natural light and visually dynamic forms are important.

How will artificial intelligence affect the practice of architecture?

First, it will impact how architects inform themselves. I’ve already caught a glimpse of how AI could help in the code analysis process. It will greatly speed up sifting through dozens of code sections when researching an unfamiliar design situation. Similarly, I’ve also used ChatGPT to speed up project research. It enables you to get to that specific information you are looking for much quicker, with a simple plain language query. Second, it’s also starting to appear in our production software programs. For example, the recent advances in AI imagery creation allow architects to manipulate the appearance of our renderings just by describing the end result. Another example is using AI to find the most efficient furniture layout based on a given area and furniture types. As for AI taking on actual design, I’m not ready for that yet. But I know it’s coming.

What do you wish that laypeople knew about architecture but don’t?

That buildings aren’t designed by general contractors. Architects need to do better about getting the word out about what we do.

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