While Jeff’s sister and Ben’s wife grew up playing basketball together in Bozeman, it would take another twenty years before Ben and Jeff themselves would connect at a mutual friend’s wedding. What unfolded over the subsequent months was a friendship and professional respect that led two entrepreneurially-minded design professionals to join forces to form 45 Architecture as it is known today. The year was 2016.
Prior to 2016, Ben had already laid the groundwork for the firm, investing in the community, and making a name for himself as the young guy who kept winning projects over big firms. His angle, he thought, was that he didn’t see other Montana-based firms winning the projects he wanted to win: projects that impact the community. Ben felt strongly that Bozeman’s public works, such as schools and sports facilities, should be stewarded by a Montanan.
Meanwhile, Jeff was cutting his teeth in the Bay Area, then Portland, on high-end residential and commercial projects. “Architecture should have an impression beyond the function of it,” said Jeff, who has always been an artist, interested in the form and expression of a building. Ultimately, his desire to own and operate a firm in the community he called home, drew him back to Bozeman. Narrative and brand-building were areas Jeff knew he could flex in as the firm grew.
The convergence of their backgrounds, style, and talents yields a portfolio that is proudly dynamic, spanning across the public and private spheres as well as rural and urban markets. Their Nashville office opened in 2019 while their Bozeman office has grown to 20 of design professionals.
Ben and Jeff know that the good and the good-for-business go hand in hand. “Partnerships, not projects,” they often say, noting that their business model will always accommodate work that is human-first even if it doesn’t necessarily pencil out financially. In 2021, the firm provided pro bono design work for people who lost their homes to wildfires. This shared value has become a guiding force for 45 Architecture.