September 28, 2021

2020 Year in Review

2020 Year in Review

Posted by CMBA Architects on Jan 13, 2021 8:00:00 AM

As I have thought about writing this year-end article, many things have run through my head about the year we all went through in 2020. Some of the things we saw last year, we hope to never see again – cross your fingers.

2020 promised to be a unique one, just due to the highly charged political and social atmosphere that gripped our country. From deeply divided politics to social unrest and discrimination, our country has ridden a bumpy road this year. I still remember planning at the end of 2019 for a robust year in terms of great projects and awesome teamwork that CMBA looked ahead to in 2020. Then, things changed, and changed quickly. No one could have predicted the impact a little-known virus would have on our company, our country, and the world.

In mid-February, there were rumblings of a potential pandemic due to the novel coronavirus-19 but most of us figured it would stay in China or have minimal impact as it arrived in the US. From that point on, every day required leaders to pivot quickly, make somewhat informed decisions, and then pivot again when the next day appeared. Amazingly, we all endured and continued to move ahead.

Looking back at the photos on my phone, the last in-person event I attended was March 10, 2020 in Des Moines for the Iowa Hospital Association Critical Access & Rural Hospital Forum!


Crazy to think we were all ‘shut-down’ from doing the things we normally do every day, but just a week and a half later, we had made the decision to send our staff home and work remotely. This would last until early June, which seemed like forever. Even though we really had not used the mobile technology to work remotely, our team expertly transitioned to using Microsoft Teams and Zoom to design, collaborate with owners and consultants, and to keep in contact with one another. We decided to stand up a “Culture Club” committee that put together activities and other social events to keep our team culture and morale at its highest levels. Zoom, virtual happy hours, and many rounds of Kahoot trivia kept our team together as we all dealt with isolation, kids at home from school and Toilet Paper Shortages!

virtual happy hour cmba

Once we were able to return to the offices, each day brought new things to think about such as new CDC daily guidelines, social distancing at desks, and limiting exposures as best we could. There were growing pains and challenges, but our team responded extremely well continuing to push the design envelope and helping our clients succeed.

Over the course of 2020, we did lose two special people to CMBA. Jim Ruble, one of our firm patriarchs passed away in early February and Marylee Brygger, wife of Jim Brygger, passed in August. Both provided many memories for our staff and we will cherish the time we had with them.

In addition, two members decided to retire in 2020 to have more time with their family after serving many years with us. Joy Decker, in our Spencer Office retired in July after 26 years of service and Rob Smith, in Des Moines retired after many, many years of leading and mentoring our younger staff. Both of them will be missed greatly, but we wish them the best as they slow things down and enjoy some needed family time. 😊


As we said goodbye to these special people, we also welcomed several new full-time faces to CMBA. Melanie Yates and Kirsten Wynn joined Sioux City, while Ryan Cameron and Andrew Miller came on board in Des Moines. We also had seven wonderful summer interns across our company – Cameron Wahlberg, Chris Antonopoulos, Maddie Uhl, Maddie Mehls, Andres Villegas, Brett Salzwedel and Joe Kenney. They all contributed greatly to the projects and teams they were a part of.


Overall, though, CMBA has weathered the storm very well and we are planning for added growth in 2021. Our clients continue to put their trust in CMBA, which we are forever grateful. The projects fuel our passion, but the clients and users really bind us to the work we do together.

– Brian Crichton

Topics: General-Main, Healthcare-General, K12-General, Higher-Ed-General