Robert Maschke, Architect


Only in his mid-40s, Robert Maschke, AIA, has already logged 30 years working with architectural firms. Truth be told, he actually started his move into the study and creation of the built environment at a much earlier age. “I wanted to be an architect from a very young age” he says. “As a child, I was always building out of Legos, Erector Sets and Tinker Toys.”

By the time he was nine, he was already proficient with a manual 35mm camera, thanks to tutoring from his cousin, a professional photographer. He believes now that it was learning to manipulate stops and apertures, play with shadow and light in the images, and develop film that led to his childhood architectural ambitions. “I found myself photographing objects, buildings and sculpture, which pulled me into a direction of contemplating designing space,” Maschke says.

At 15, he was offered an opportunity to work in the blueprint department of HWH, a large, multidisciplinary architectural firm in Cleveland. While he thought dressing up in a shirt and tie and working at an office in the Warehouse District was great, the smell of the old ammonia machines wasn’t so nice.

Fortunately, one of the senior architects, who was developing a key presentation for Goodyear, jokingly suggested that young Robert help them with the renderings. The owner wasn’t pleased when he walked in on his 15-year-old summer intern drawing. Then he saw the quality of the renderings. Maschke was officially on his way to being an architect.

He continued to work at HWH and then intern at other firms while earning his Bachelor of Architecture at Kent State University in 1989. He took an intern architecture position with Richard Fleischman Architects, Inc., upon graduation.

“I consider my time in Fleischman’s studio as paid graduate school.” he says, remembering the atmosphere there as “very collegial, competitive and intense. It became very clear to me about the effort and passion required to create architecture.”

When he was just 24, the Cuyahoga County Metropolitan Housing Authority hired him to serve as a project manager. “I thought, ‘Who in their right mind is going to hire some unproven person to manage a $45 million project?’” he recalls. “I have to take this job!” He was later promoted to Chief of Design and Project Management.

For the next seven years, he oversaw the design and construction of the King-Kennedy Estates, now Renaissance Village, which won numerous national awards for public housing. He started off with himself and a secretary and by the end was managing a 60-person department and $500 million worth of public housing and institutional projects. “Towards the end,” he confides, “I knew only five to ten percent of what I was doing was what I really enjoyed, which was being an architect.”

He returned to Fleischman’s office as a principal/vice president in 1997, but he knew now that he was ready to do it all on his own. Later that year, he founded Robert Maschke Architects Inc. Since then, he and his firm have designed a diverse range of award-winning arts, educational, commercial and residential projects all over the world. Throughout that time, he has cultivated and continued to refine a design sensibility that is simultaneously timeless in atmosphere, highly articulated in finish, and meticulous in detail.

Maschke has received many AIA honors and awards during his career. This year, he received a National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, and last year, the AIA recognized him with Ohio Merit and Cleveland Merit awards for his work. His firm’s projects are frequently recognized for their innovative designs and solutions to clients’ design needs.

“Our ambition is to solve clients’ needs in new and innovative ways,” he says, “while maximizing the creative potential within each project.”

Cleveland Arts Prize
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