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Brom marks 60 years in architecture

Brom marks 60 years in architecture

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WATERLOO, Iowa --- Another year, another milestone for Richard "Hovey" Brom.

On Friday, Brom is celebrating his 60th anniversary as an architect.

In fact, InVision Architecture, where Brom has spent nearly all of his professional life, is marking the occasion with a celebratory breakfast at the company's offices in downtown Waterloo.

By any standard gauge, Brom, 86, should be long retired by now. Indeed, he sold his partnership in InVision in 1990.

But colleagues note the word "standard" doesn't fit Brom, who still shows up to work 25 to 30 hours each week.

Brom's uniqueness has been well documented. Last year, for example, he was one of The Courier's second annual Eight Over 80 award winners.

Colleagues say Brom has remained as steadfast in the Cedar Valley community as the buildings he has designed across the area.

"He's an avid researcher, and it helps improve our practice," said Mike Broshar, an InVision partner. "He's a constant reminder that we work for our clients and not ourselves."

At company meetings, Brom's input reminds all present of that ideal, Broshar said.

"He's an absolute font of knowledge of why you do things a certain way and why it's good not to do some things," Broshar said.

Every day brings something new about which to get excited, Brom said when asked what keeps him going.

"You have fun with new situations and things you learn," Brom said. "An architect learns many things every day. I guess the fact that it isn't a routine is what has kept me going. That's why I didn't retire when I was 65."

Brom's story is well-known around the company he joined in 1952, when it was just seven years old and he was only 26. After serving in World War II, Brom enrolled at Iowa State University to study engineering. Unsatisfied in his studies, Brom visited the career services office, where it was suggested he pursue a more artistic endeavor.

"I never had an art class in my life," he said. "I was told there was nothing at Iowa State in the artistic area except, maybe, architecture. They suggested I go and look in on some of the classes, so I did."

As a senior at Iowa State, Brom was a finalist in the prestigious International Rome Prize Competition. He officially began working in architecture on June 15, 1952. Only five years later, he was offered a partnership at Thorson Thorson and Madsen Architects, becoming at the time Thorson and Brom Architects --- now known as InVision.

Brom has left his physical mark on the Cedar Valley landscape, having designed the Grout Museum and many buildings on the University of Northern Iowa campus. He has also served his community through involvement with the Waterloo Downtown Rotary, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center and the American Institute of Architects.

"I talk to him quite a bit and ask his advice on technological things and how buildings are put together and why they work and shed water --- the whole myriad of questions you might ask," Broshar said.

Tim Turnis, an architect at InVision for the last five years, says he represents the other side of the spectrum, in terms of experience.

Turnis said he often taps into the wisdom of the company's elder statesman.

"He just brings a lively spirit to the office that he's maintained, I think, throughout his career," Turnis said. "I've known him six years, and he still comes to work ready to go. His passion about his career is a motivation for me."

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