Jim Stapleton is the Senior Vice President and Principal of FRCH Design Worldwide. FRCH is a firm that specializes in architecture, interior/graphic design, and brand strategy. It handles projects for a variety of clients, including hotels, department stores, grocery stores, and many more. Honestly, you’d probably have a harder time naming which clients aren’t working with FRCH.
Because architects and organizations like FRCH are fascinating to us, we interviewed Jim to better understand who he is and why creating is his passion.
Cincinnati Refined: How long have you been an architect?
Stapleton: I have been a practicing architect for 34 years.
CR: Have you always been local or did you move here?
Stapleton: I was not born in Cincinnati. I grew up on the Jersey Shore. I attended college at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and practiced there for 10 years. I also spent four years in Los Angeles where I had my own practice. I’ve been in Cincinnati since 1997. My maternal grandparents were from Cincinnati, and my grandmother grew up in Over-the-Rhine.
CR: What inspired you to become an architect?
Stapleton: Manhattan. I told my grandmother at the age of four that I wanted to become an architect. I told her this while sitting on the steps of the New York Public Library as we were waiting for my father to pick me up. He worked for Exxon International in Rockefeller Center in New York.
CR: Which famous architects (past or present) do you most admire?
Stapleton: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe because of his vision to create unique architecture of its time, and for his precision and discipline. Frank Gehry for his unique architectural design process that is more influenced by artists than architectural thinking. And Pierre Chareau, who designed the Maison de Verre in Paris, which was a unique and influential expression of architecture and interior design in Paris in the 1920s.
CR: What are your favorite types of structures to design (eg: commercial, residential, other)?
Stapleton: I generally like any structure that combines both architecture and interior design. That usually means residential in the private sector and hotels in the commercial sector. This also includes corporate offices, which are homes for private companies.
CR: What is your favorite project you’ve worked on with FRCH?
Stapleton: The Fifth Third Fountain Square project. The glass wall with its LED lighting has become an emotive backdrop to Fountain Square that enlivens the space and the city on a daily basis.
CR: In all of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, what are your three favorite buildings and why?
Stapleton: Gwynne Building by Ernest Flagg — It’s the original P&G headquarters, and it has a richly designed & detailed facade that is unparalleled in commercial building.
Music Hall by Samuel Hannaford — This building design is uniquely its own. I cannot think of another building that looks anything like it. Truly original, though a bit eccentric.
UC Rec Center by Morphosis — The way it spatially connects and weaves its interior and exterior design into the UC campus is extraordinary.