Interview with Margit Whitlock of Architectural Concepts

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself (personally and professionally)? 

A native Californian yet grew up in Portland, Oregon and graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture from University of Oregon.  I headed to San Diego, California and started my career and eventually my firm in 1992.  ACI Architectural Concepts is a Planning, Architecture and Interior Design firm committed to the highest quality in design and client service. ACI provides architectural services nationally and internationally with an expertise in hospitality/resort/vacation ownership and creative commercial environments.

How did you get started in the industry?

Straight from architecture school I was employed by SGPA, San Diego as a design intern where I worked on big box retail centers and masterplans for retail / commercial developments. After a few years I moved to JWDA, San Diego where I worked on designing hotels, condominiums and specialty retail.  Then in 1992 I established my own design firm here is San Diego.

Can you describe your customers / what type of customers do you have?

Our clients for the most part are private sector developers with a boutique vision of their projects.  They come to ACI for the creative talent our staff has and for the way we invest ourselves in our projects

What are some of the current projects you are working on?

We have some great projects just completed and on the boards.  For example:  Countywide Mechanical Corporate offices (San Diego), Disney Vacation Club sales store, Holiday Inn Club Vacations restaurant remodel and entertainment pavilion in Scottsdale, AZ, Social Tap restaurants in California.

How did those clients find out about your services?

We have multiple projects with repeat clients and they refer us to their colleges.  We receive some calls from web searches as well as we are highly publicized.

What are some of your “keys to success” in building your customer base? 

Having been in business almost 25 years we have learned the value of servicing our clients’ needs and goals for the project.  We take a lot of time to work with our clients and consultants to make the best possible outcome with whatever the constraints are.  We are up front and honest making sure the integrity of the design is foremost important.

Is there anything about your business that you feel makes it special?

We are a culture of crazy, fun, professionals.  We actually judge our success by “How much fun was that?”

Where do you see the industry going?

The industry is on an upswing with many transactions causing for a strong market.  I caution us though as we have seen in the last downturn how quickly the economy can turn, so I watch the big guys and look to see if they are slowing down or staying strong.  For now we are all strong.

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?

We are on a growth pattern and I can see us doubling or tripling our book of business in the next five years.  In ten years I want to be on a quiet little island relaxing and maybe teaching architecture to the local villagers….:)

Margit Whitlock

Margit E. Whitlock AIA, LEED AP
Principal / Creative Director
Architectural Concepts, Inc.
3958 First Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
United States of America
T: +1 619 531 0110