Kiprian “Kip” Fedetz remembers the drafting class he took in 10th grade and enjoying the structured form of drawing and thinking in a three-dimensional way.
“From an early age, I was intrigued by modern buildings, and I decided then and there that I wanted to be an architect,” said Fedetz, president of Fedetz & Martin Associates, an Allentown-based architectural firm with corporate, commercial, governmental, health care and educational clients throughout Pennsylvania.
Founded in Reading in 1956 by Robert Martin, the practice in its early years included public works projects and private facilities, as well as school projects throughout Berks County.
Martin ran the business for more than 30 years until 1990, when he met Fedetz. They joined forces after collaborating on projects and in 1992 formed a partnership.
Martin retired in 2002, and Fedetz became the sole owner. The firm’s Reading office recently closed, consolidating its operations in Allentown.
“Bob was an architect before I was born, a longtime, successful architect in Berks County,” said Fedetz, who graduated from Kent State University in 1982. “Bob did nothing but marketing and allowed me to run the firm. That was his preference, and I learned so much from him.
Martin died in 2005. “He [Martin] was the consummate businessman in Reading — well groomed, an impeccable dresser, old school,” Fedetz said. “He taught me that the marketing side of architecture is just as vital as producing creative, imaginative designs.”
A touch of old school in himself, too, Fedetz started as a draftsman after college, “doing the boss’ designs,” and opened his first architectural practice after converting his garage in Orefield in 1990 into a design studio. He worked 80 hours a week to find clients and build the business.
“The first time I did a design myself was for an accounting firm on Hamilton Boulevard, across from Cedar Crest College [in Allentown],” he recalled. “It’s a credit union now, but I still smile whenever I drive by there. You always remember the projects that made a big impact on your career.”
Fedetz credits a vigorous work ethic and strong client relationships with surviving the economic downtown that started in 2008.