What is FRCH 50?  Simply put, a company is only as good as its people. Which is why it’s safe to say we’re a pretty remarkable company. Our passion for our work and creativity is echoed in how we celebrate – unexpected, dramatic, but always fun! We’ve transformed our back lot into a farmyard (complete with animals), created a music festival pop-up in OTR, and hosted a karaoke happy hour in our lobby (it was for a good cause). We have employees that have met their spouses, raised their children and started a lifelong career here. Our mantra ‘See Something New’ is embedded in our culture – we don’t always get along, but we challenge each other with differing perspectives and celebrate originality.

Which is why, as we turn 50 this year, it only seems appropriate to celebrate our people. The people who have not only made their mark on FRCH, but those who have been transformed by FRCH in the process. Happy Anniversary FRCH! 

Name: James Stapleton

Title: Senior Vice President/Principal, Hospitality

1. How long have you been at FRCH?

20 Years this October

2. What has been your favorite FRCH project you’ve been involved in, and why?

This is a dangerous question!!! It’s the same as asking who your favorite child is ( I only have one so I don’t actually have this problem). No matter what you say you’ll disappoint someone … so I’m gonna give you a list:

Corbett Opera Center: Great, complex and challenging project. A ship in a bottle. The Opera were a great and thoughtful client and they made me want to stay in Cincinnati.

Fifth Third Fountain Square: A simple solution again that was very challenging and complex. We had to hang the new cantilevered façade off the existing building and could not bear any weight on the 3CDC Garage below.

Columbia Sussex HQ: It turned out to be Cincinnati’s best designed office building bold and soaring. I get a lot of credit outside the office for the design but Mike Davin actually led the charge. Next time you see Mike tell him how much you like “Jim’s” design!!


Hyatt Louisville: SWAY is a great restaurant with a warm and inviting atmosphere.


Hyatt Denver Tech: Another great project with a cool and refined modern aesthetic.


Hyatt Centric Arlington: Truly an eccentric design. I couldn’t believe they built some of our ideas like the artwork hidden in drawers, wrapping columns and broken pieces that come together in singular vantage points.


Contemporary Arts Center: We took Zaha Hadid’s Vison for the Urban Carpet and bought it to life. Her vision for Liquid Space is great when it’s about getting people to move through it. It’s not so nice if you want them to stay. We got them to STAY and now their attendance and revenue is way up!


3. What was your favorite FRCH Social Event and why?

I would say the very first Anniversary Party I attended at the Glendale Athenaeum in November of 1998. The theme was a High School Reunion and everyone came dressed accordingly. There was a radio controlled float competition where each studio had to build their own float. Somehow I remember Specialty Design built two and the controller signals got messed up and the floats looked like they were attacking each other instead of working together. It was like the parade scene in the movie Animal House. Absolute Chaos!

4. What is your funniest FRCH Memory?

See number 3 above. I know a lot of people like the small farm animals in the backlot.

5. What is your biggest hope for the future of FRCH?

I’d say it’s simply great projects with great people. It doesn’t get any better than that. I think the NELSON merger will bring us new opportunities for design and adventure that will take us to bigger and better places we didn’t expect to see.