Melotte Morse, Ltd., Architects and Environmental Designers, began its practice 40 years ago by committing the new firm to “improving the built environment”. As the firm grew into Melotte Morse Leonatti Parker, Ltd. (MMLP), that purpose has expanded and changed to include all aspects of built environments from affordable homes to church sanctuaries and their stained glass; from school design to award-winning historic restoration; from passive solar design to advanced geothermal heating and cooling. And that commitment is as relevant today as ever as the principles of sustainable and energy efficient designs, which have been incorporated into all of the firm’s work since its inception are becoming widely accepted. Five years ago, MMLP designed the IMEA Headquarters Building, Springfield’s first Green Building certified under a third-party verification system, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The firm continues to advocate to their clients to use sustainable principles in design.
When Ralls C. Melotte and Richard R. (Dick) Morse began the partnership in 1978, it was housed on the lower level of Ralls home; denying Ralls’ son his bedroom for the architecture practice and taking over the family room for the stained-glass studio (Melotte Morse Stained Glass was a part of the practice for 23 years until sold to the studio manager, Steve Brooks in 2001). By 1984, the firm had restored and renovated National Register Property at 213 South Sixth Street in downtown Springfield, Illinois, its present offices. Melotte Morse Stained Glass occupied the Basement and Ground floors (now Del’s Popcorn Shop) and the architectural offices filled the upper two floors. This restoration was one of the first adaptive restorations of downtown upper floors - happening as the downtown as a commercial center was mounting its comeback. In 1984, David J. Leonatti joined the firm (then compromising a staff of 5), helping in the glass studio in the summer building season and producing drawings the rest of the time. 10 years later, the firm became Melotte Morse Leonatti Ltd. as David moved to an ownership position. T. David Parker came to Springfield from Chicago via Louisville in 1990 and joined Melotte Morse Leonatti, Ltd. in 1991. Since then, he rose from contract model-builder to Project Architect and became the firm’s latest Principal in 2008. So, the firm once again changed its name to the current Melotte Morse Leonatti Parker, Ltd. or MMLP.
The firm has been the architect at one time or another for most of the buildings facing 6th Street between Monroe and Adams, (Springfield’s most complete intact block in its downtown Historic District) plus many of the adjacent buildings and all of the historic block of buildings on the South side of the Old State Capitol Plaza. The firm and its principals have been and continue to be involved in the creative reuse and restoration of our built heritage, both in Springfield and in Central Illinois as advocates, architects, environmental consultants, and property owners. MMLP also continues to be an advocate of downtown as a civic and business center, recognizing the efficiencies gained by denser land use, reuse of existing infrastructure and a central location.
MMLP created the Analytical Design Group (ADG) to expand services to their clientele for Building-Specific Environmental Analysis, Design and Contract Administration. ADG is nationally recognized for their leadership in Environmental consulting for buildings in mold, indoor air quality, lead paint and asbestos abatement and mitigation. These services fit well with the firm’s expertise in historic restoration and the effective reuse of existing building stock.
MMLP ‘s impact on the built environment in Springfield and Central Illinois has been far-reaching. In downtown Springfield the firm's work has included the Old State Capitol Plaza and streetscape that were re-designed by MML (2000), the Maldaner's restorations (1977 to 1997), Merrill Lynch office addition (Oxtoby Building 1996), Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (1983), the Old State Capitol grounds and parking (1997-2001), the Fisher/Latham award - winning historic restoration awards (2003) and the Illinois Association of Realtors Building (2007) and Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (2010).
Clients come in for personal service and expert advise and include private homeowners, commercial real estate developers both large and small, associations, nonprofits, public and private institutions of all types, and all levels of state, regional, county and local governments. The firm has always sought out human services as both architects and board members, nonprofit organizations (NFP’s) and governmental service providers. These include:
- Professional Associations and Public Service Organizations
- Senior Care and Living Communities
- Churches and Church supported service organizations
- Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers, Childcare and Adolescent Advocacy
- Affordable Housing Clients: Housing Authorities, NFP’s for Single Family Housing projects
- Public Schools (K-12): New, rehabilitation, facilities management, energy management
- Higher Education, Colleges and Universities
MMLP’s team and consensus-building approach is particularly successful with board-managed organizations. The fact that 90% of their projects in a given year come from repeat clients is testament to the value added by MMLP’s involvement. Their principal staff often end up as volunteer board members and advocates for the causes represented their clients. Melotte, Morse, Leonatti and Parker have all served the community in multiple roles ranging from human service boards such as Sparc, Rotary and Goodwill to community events such as the Regional and Urban Design Assessment Team (R/UDAT). The work of the R/UDAT follow-up team has resulted in transportation, beautification and revitalization projects such as the Capitol Avenue Improvements and Springfield Green.
MMLP, Ltd. continues to lead the way in technology locally as well. We moved to Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology in 2009 and now work exclusively in BIM. This allows our clients to see their projects in 3 dimensions, providing shaded views and photo-realistic renderings and experiencing virtual fly-arounds and walk-throughs.