Principal Michael Herrmann, PE, SEBC has been with O&N for over 20 years and has long been a champion of the Community Design Collaborative. He experienced the transformative power of the design grant process as a volunteer in 2014. His office circulated an email from the Collaborative seeking a structural engineer volunteer. Michael replied and became part of a team that developed a conceptual design to convert a North Philadelphia rowhouse and vacant lot into a community space. He was inspired by the opportunity to work with community members who were wholly motivated by a desire to improve their neighborhood, and recognized that this was a way he could give back.
He’s seen the effect volunteering has had on staff members at O&N’s Philadelphia headquarters. “They take the knowledge they’ve gained -- whether they’ve been here 6 months or 20 years -- and give it to somebody with little understanding of the design process. The design grant recipient is blown away by everyone’s generosity and it really makes a difference. It’s energizing.”
In addition to volunteering on design grants, O&N’s STRIKEtural engineers have been dedicated supporters of the Bowling Ball, the Collaborative’s boisterous annual fundraiser featuring a bowling competition, raffles and networking. The O&N team has been faithfully knocking down pins since 2008.
Reflecting on why O&N became a Collaborative Corporate Champion, Michael Herrmann described the trifecta of a successful firm. “We think in order to be successful, you need to be good at what you do, you need to be smart in business, and you need to be a member of your community.” He sees supporting the Community Design Collaborative, as well as other community organizations like ACE, AIA Philadelphia and the Center for Architecture and Design, as a key ingredient in O&N’s success.
O&N is over 85 professionals and growing. With additional offices in New York, New Jersey and Indiana, Michael sees O&N’s community work in Philadelphia as a model for how his growing firm can be a good citizen of each community where they have an office.