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Many businesses have been forced to work remotely this year. Rotwein+Blake is no
different, but the firm was able to pivot quickly thanks to technology that was already in place.
place since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The team has not hesitated to use it since then in the case of snowstorms or other instances when it was necessary.
“This wasn’t even an issue, it wasn’t something we had to think about,” Patel said. “It was there for us to continue on the same platform.”
That’s not to diminish the importance of in-person collaboration, especially for an architecture and interiors firm
that often has two or three people working on a design. The company
reopened its office in July — with the proper precautions in place — which has only helped as it continues to work on client projects.
Cammy Hardison, R+B’s director of interiors, cited one other important advantage of being in the office.
“We’re still pretty detail-oriented, and one of the biggest challenges that we dealt with since the beginning of COVID was sourcing materials, because companies have gone on hold and their production has gone on hold, but
some of our projects were still going,” she said. “We’re touchy- feely people,
so we need
to have that tangible thing, but I wasn’t willing to have samples sent to the house. So
we would
have samples sent here, we would come in once in a while and check things out to try to put a palette together very quickly for some projects.”
 Aavart Patel, the firm’s director of projects, noted that the practice has had remote workplace systems in
Cammy Hardison
 Aavart Patel
The firm had begun its move into multifamily by the time the economy collapsed in 2008. Its first clients in the space were Roseland Property Co. and Century 21 Construction, which were partnering on a two- phase, 235-unit project in Verona known as the Highlands at Hilltop. As for how the firm won the assignment, Blake notes that he had worked on mutual projects with Century 21, which is owned by the Marino family, while he had known Roseland founders Marshall Tycher, Carl Goldberg and Brad Klatt on a personal level.
“Between Marino and Roseland, I convinced them to give me a shot,” Blake said. “And it worked out — we did a good job for them.”
As one might expect, “there was definitely a learning curve” when it came to entering a new asset class, “but overall they were very successful projects.” And it has paved the way for what is now the anchor of the practice. Blake
estimates that it was four or five years ago that residential and mixed- use projects overtook other asset classes as the majority of the firm’s pipeline.
“It’s a little scary from my perspective,” he joked, given the company focus in its earliest years. That pipeline is now filled with projects for clients that have both
a long history with commercial buildings and a growing appetite for multifamily, including Denholtz Properties, Russo Development and others.
The firm’s interiors team has also managed to stay busy through the pandemic, even if the demand for space planning and new office fit- outs have slowed. Blake said the firm is continuing with a significant project for CrossRiver Bank and noted that many of its other ongoing projects, such as multifamily and religious buildings, have detailed interior needs.
In fact, Rotwein+Blake has even added to its interiors team during the pandemic. The firm in early October announced the hiring of Prabha Agrawal as a senior interior designer. Another new addition, Clint Ronsick, joined the practice in September after recently completing a master’s program at North Carolina State University.
Blake added that the team is sourcing new
of virtual and augmented reality. Blake said the visualization and the rendering process that the technology provides is “fully integrated in our design process, so it’s really helped in terms of helping clients understand what they’re getting.” The platform has also helped attract new clients and ensure that they become repeat customers.
“Now it’s something we can’t live without,” Blake said. “And any new technology that comes out, we’re well-equipped to embrace.”
The technology also provides another advantage going forward.
“We’ve always been competing against even larger firms, but I think now we’re right there with them,” Turner said. “And we have the technology, but we’re able to offer that intimacy that the client really appreciates that the larger firms aren’t, so it’s a win-win for us.” RE
 Isabel Turner
business despite the cloud of
the pandemic, thanks to both referrals and the efforts of Isabel Turner, the firm’s director of marketing. The
company even receives calls from prospective clients who have simply seen Rotwein+Blake’s completed projects around the state.
In recent years, sourcing new projects has also relied on the use
    Rotwein+Blake’s long list of projects over 65 years include a new headquarters for Commvault, a data backup and management company, at the Fort Monmouth property in Tinton Falls. The 275,000-square-foot complex opened in 2015.
Courtesy: Rotwein+Blake

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