GTM reflects growth in designing its new headquarters
Feb. 11, 2005
Jeremy Bond
Staff Writer

Submitted photo

GTM Architects, which designed its new headquarters in Bethesda, chose a contemporary look but used wood and stone to instill a residential feel in the design.

When an architectural firm builds its own space, it is not surprising that it would go all out.

GTM Architects' toughest client might have been itself, as employees wrangled over how to design the company's new office on the seventh floor of 7735 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda.

"It's so much easier to design an office for someone else," said Diane Taitt, an associate and senior designer at GTM who led the team proposing the original design.

The group opened up the proposal to the entire company for feedback, and the space was redesigned about four times, Taitt said. After debates over an open floor plan versus a closed one (open won out), and over privacy versus shared space (the design is intended to facilitate more employee interaction), "we ended up pretty close to what we originally proposed," Taitt said.

Employees were steered away from the natural human tendency to resist change and recreate the same space, with all its flaws, that the company had in its previous headquarters at a house in Kensington.

"We kind of outgrew the house, and the kind of work we were doing as a firm also was evolving," Taitt said.

GTM had moved beyond residential properties, which now makes up about a third of the business, to a lot of commercial work. The company wanted a contemporary design for the new space, but included residential-looking touches such as plank wood on the ceiling and slate behind the reception desk that resembles stone used for fireplaces, Taitt said.

"Every line was deliberate," she said. "It really became important to showcase [our work for] our clients."

The company built in flexibility in the space to allow for future growth, Taitt said. The new space is 10,000 square feet, nearly double the space in the Kensington location.

GTM has nearly 60 employees and is growing, and already seeks additional space elsewhere in the building, Taitt said.

Realty companies merge

W.C. & A.N. Miller Cos., a 93-year-old Washington, D.C., real estate company with offices in Montgomery County, is merging with 72-year-old Laughlin Realtors of McLean, Va.

The two companies will form Laughlin-Miller Realtors of Northern Virginia and will be based in McLean. The merger will allow Miller to enter the Northern Virginia market and Laughlin the opportunity to expand its residential sales capacity, according to information from the companies. Miller's offices in Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Potomac and Washington will retain the Miller name.

Miller first operated as a real estate agency in 1960 from a small house in Potomac and later opened its first official office on Sangamore Road in the Little Falls Mall, which the company built in the 1960s, company spokeswoman Nancy Daniel said. The company renovated the shopping center and reopened it in 2001 as the Shops at Sumner Place.

Commercial real estate news items may be mailed to: Jeremy Bond, The Business Gazette, 1200 Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878; e-mailed to; or faxed to 301-670-7183.