- July 31st, 2008
- in Yachting
Envisioning, Designing and Creating
OBM International are more than just architects,
they tell a story through the built environment
Architecture is much more than buildings or the materials used to build them. When one thinks of the pyramids in Egypt or the Parthenon of Ancient Greece, great civilizations come to mind instead of mere structures of white marble or stone. Architecture reflects on a region’s culture. It is the key to the distant past, it tel ls us a good deal about the views of the current inhabitants, and it becomes their legacy in the future.
This concept is the foundation of OBM International’s design philosophy. The firm does more than just specialize in architecture, master planning and interior design; we use our services to tell a story—the story of a couple’s life together within their dream home; the history and culture of a company through their place of business; the experience and discovery of visiting an unforgettable place when staying at a hotel or resort.
As professional storytellers, we often refer to our company’s history for inspiration. It is one that spans more than seven decades and more than nine countries, and includes a cast of characters that, although some have passed on, are the driving force of our continued success.
The early years
A young architect from Montreal named Valmer Bouchard arrived in Hamilton, Bermuda on the passenger cargo ship Lady Nelson at the invitation of Wilfred Onions to join him in partnership. Onions and Bouchard had graduated together from McGill University in 1932 and had worked together in London at the prestigious Company of Lutyens Associates. The two set about developing the architectural practice of Onions & Bouchard, formalizing the partnership in 1936 and going on to establish themselves as the pre-eminent residential architects of Bermuda. Their partnership was marked by major contributions to Bermuda’s architectural heritage, including establishing the residential image as unique and worthy of preservation by law.
Today, Wil Onions is known as the Father of the Bermudian cottage style of architecture. Just before his untimely death back in 1959, the partnership took on a new partner, John McCulloch, and a new name: Onions Bouchard & McCulloch.
McCulloch brought a new perspective to the company, offering architectural design services for commercial and civic buildings in Bermuda, subsequently adding interior design to its lines of business. Then, in the late 1960s, the company ventured into the Caribbean region, opening the first office right here in the BVI in 1967. Offices in St. Maarten, Antigua and St. Kitts quickly followed. These offices also carried out projects in Turks & Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Jamaica, Montserrat and the US Virgin Islands.
McCulloch’s vision was instrumental in the firm’s influence on economic development throughout the Caribbean. Vital to our success in the Caribbean was the ability of design professionals to integrate the heritage and culture of each region into their design. Moreover, sustainability was always a core value, even before there was a term to describe it. We worked in fragile, untouched places and our founders instilled the importance of recognizing the fragility of the environment. Today, we continue to express our creativity while respecting the natural landscape and the architectural typologies of the region and making best use of modern advancements like eco-friendly materials and alternative energy sources.
In the early 1990s, after Bouchard died and McCulloch retired, the reins of command passed to Ruth Burgess. Two year later, the stewardship of the company was transferred to William “Bill” Bissell as President, with B.W. “Jordy” Walker, Wil Onions’ nephew, as Chairman. Under this new leadership, the company adopted the trade title of OBM International (“OBMI”) and commenced a series of strategic planning activities directed at repositioning the organization to take advantage of business opportunities.
It was decided to open a Miami operations office, and subsequently the administrative headquarters, in 1998 to pursue business opportunities in the global marketplace. Upon the retirement of B.W. “Jordy” Walker, Bill Bissell became Chairman and led the company to great success in the design of hotel/resort projects throughout the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.
After the unexpected death of Bill Bissell and retirement of Jordy Walker, OBM International’s Board of Directors took on the directive to honour our visionary leaders and continue our drive for expansion. Today, we have nine offices around the world and projects in more than 30 countries on five continents. Our vast professional portfolio ranks us as the premier full-service design consulting firm of Bermuda and the Caribbean. We are also among the leading hospitality design experts in the world. We have been acknowledged as such by global publications such as World Architecture, Hotel Design and Hotel & Motel Management, among others.
OBMI’s longevity in the industry can be credited to relationships with a long list of multinational clients and the ability to design beyond the traditional realms of architecture. From France to Oman to Tanzania, the firm specializes in capturing the indigenous characteristics of the project location and incorporating them into the design—something that was learned right here in the Caribbean. Sure, we benefit from our global expertise, but it is our strong local identity that is the secret to our success. We deliver global skills with local sensitivity.
Seven decades of design innovation, expansion and prestige are credited to our ability to tell our client’s story using four basic “storytelling” tools: quality of design, service, heritage and environment.
Our dedication to delivering superior quality and service, while respecting the tradition and environment of where we live, work and play, has propelled OBMI to become one of the leading design firms in the world. The firm’s commitment to the highest standards in design and customized architecture are also factors that have been instrumental in its achievements during these 72 years. Our success is deeply rooted in the values instilled by our founding fathers, Onions, Bouchard & McCulloch, and I believe they would be extremely proud of their firm today.
Tim Peck is OBM International’s Regional Director, based out of the BVI.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT OBM, OR TO ENQUIRE ABOUT SERVICES,
Steve Fox, British Virgin Islands office
For seven decades, OBM International has been the premier full-service design consulting firm in Bermuda and the Caribbean. Today, with nine multinational offices, projects throughout the world and a diverse team of experts, OBM is a global leader in luxury hotel/resort design development, architecture, master/town planning and interior design, with landmark projects in the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe and the Arabian Peninsula.
Currently, OBM has design offices located in Antigua, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islan ds, Madrid, Miami, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks & Caicos Islands, a strategic alliance in the Bahamas, and a business development office in Bath (UK).