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Meet Bob Hoffman, a do-everything kinda guy in Lebanon

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 24, 2014 4:00 AM

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Photo by Heather Woolridge/witf

(Harrisburg) -- Architect Bob Hoffman works at the firm Beers and Hoffman, but his mark is all over Lebanon.

He's received a lifetime achievement award from his alma mater, the Lebanon School District, and designed the renovations for 5 of its 7 schools in the past decade.

Hoffman, who works at the architectural firm Beers and Hoffman, is also a former President and CEO of Good Samaritan Hospital, and serves on the Board of Directors at the United Way of Lebanon County. 

But he actually was lured back to Lebanon County after spending years in Philadelphia at a large architectural firm.

Below is a video with Bob Hoffman which includes stories about taking a Spanish class with former President George Bush at Yale, and his long-time friendship with Dick Winters, leader of the Band of Brothers.

Below, some excerpts:

What did you learn as President and CEO of Good Samaritan Hospital that carries over to your work as an architect?

"I think the thing that was very important in that position and certainly something that I enjoyed immensely was learning to interact with people of a variety of constituencies. Being in a hospital leadership position is a challenge because you have such diverse constituencies. You have the physicians, the board of trustees, the employees, volunteers, and most importantly, the patients in the community. And sometimes, all those interests are not perfectly aligned. It can be occasionally a challenge to make sure everything comes to a common focus."

What do you want people to think about when they look at a building you designed?

"The most important thing for me is that the client thinks the building is what they want. It is irrelevant to a great extent, in terms of what I think, as long as the client is happy and as long as our firm has done the work to make the client happy and functional in their new environment. That's the key thing. We don't have a style. There isn't necessarily at all the ability to see buildings that Beers and Hoffman do that are recognizable as Beers and Hoffman buildings, because our role is not to have a signature style. Our role is to approach every project individually, on its own merits, solve the problems that are inherent in the program and the site etc, and create a design that is going to represent the program and the desires of the individuals."

How does an architect get involved in their community?

"The environment that I was in, that certainly was one of the guiding principles. My family was very much involved in the community, and I grew up understanding that was a really good thing to do. And I did see the fruits of that in my own family, and I really understand at an early age, in communities it's important to be involved, to really give back in very positive ways to sustain the strength of a community."

What is the driving force of that for you?

"Returning to a community, the success of that community is directly dependent upon the people that are willing to make the effort to make it a strong place to live. And there's so many different ways that you can do that. Whether it's working through your church, whether it's working through the United Way, through the Chamber of Commerce. There's so many opportunities to volunteer. I have always looked at volunteering as a sequential thing. There are very few home runs you hit in that world. It's a day by day, small effort by small effort that is a cumulative effect. And when you have many people doing those small efforts on a daily basis, the sum of those are what makes a community vibrant and strong."

Published in Beyond the Bio

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