An Interview with Drew White and Cory Ticktin
It was 1987. Bon Jovi was living on a prayer, Woody was serving drinks at Cheers, and President Reagan was meeting Gorbachev in Washington. It was during this time when Drew White and Cory Ticktin were young architects, starting what would become a 40-year friendship turned business partners. Both were making their early mark in the industry; Drew in Houston and Cory in LA. When the oil crisis hit, the Houston office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) closed and soon Drew found himself in LA by way of Chicago. We could say the rest is history; but there are so many important pieces to this story that land in the middle.
“SOM is where Cory and I met and began what is now a very long-standing friendship,” said White. “While working at the LA office we found ourselves working on an interiors project for a Texas hotel. We became friends during this project and found an appreciation for each other’s work.”
During this stretch of time, Drew and Cory worked on other notable projects, including a museum with designer Lauren Rottet, Rottet Studio.
Fast forward a few years and Drew headed back to the Midwest. Drew shared how back then Cory was a good friend hooking him up with an unconventional way to get all of his personal stuff from LA to the Midwest by air. We’ll leave the story there, and maybe save that for a future adventure blog.
Over the years Drew and Cory forged impressive professional paths. Drew established his footprint in Indianapolis and the surrounding region, with Cory working at large US firms on many global projects.
“I was drawn to the work overseas,” said Cory. “Working globally opens up opportunities for larger scale ambitious projects, and not everyone can or wants to take on the international schedule. I spent two-weeks every month overseas– for 20 years.”
Ticktin moved to China in 2012 and became an American Architect known and respected in Southeast Asia and Eastern countries leading teams for AECOM and Gensler. In fact, young talent tends to follow Cory admiring his leadership and exceptional experience in the industry.
Drew and Cory have both led impressive careers. While different in their paths, their friendship and appreciation for the other’s strengths and acumen have paved the road for this new global studio collaboration. Cory was named Fellow in 2015 and Drew in 2012.
“When I received my Fellow distinction, Cory and his wife traveled to celebrate with me and my family,” said White.” “These bump-ins over the years allowed us to maintain a great relationship, always with me asking, “So, when do you want to partner on a global studio?”
Those bump-ins kept Drew and Cory connected. From family tailgating at football games to a vacation to Spain and Italy, these two have great stories and a great appreciation for each other and the industry they both love.
In 2021, at the height of COVID, Gensler asked Cory to move to India. He had been living in Thailand for more than 5 years and relocating to India was off the table. So when Gensler’s Thai studio closed, that frequent question from White became pretty relevant. The Drew and Cory story was ready for its next chapter, and Axis Architecture became StudioAXIS with Cory leading a team in both Bangkok and Bengaluru.
Relational Design, Local Insight, Global Impact.
The refresh of Axis to StudioAXIS leverages three-decades of Drew, his long-time business partner Kevin Cooper, and a team of talented architects and designers delivering timeless projects in Indianapolis and its surrounding regions. This new, global collaboration opens opportunity and expands the firm’s vision on projects here and abroad.
“Our combined studios in Indianapolis, Bangkok, and Bengaluru blend cultures and promote bigger thinking,” said Cory. “We have talent here in Southeast Asia that can become part of an entire project’s process. Here, architects lead the design and execution at the beginning. The middle is transitioned over to a local firm. Although we are licensed to execute a project from start to finish, clients will generally hire an “International Firm” and then a “Local Firm”. This dynamic alone gives our young, growing talent experience they generally would not have here.”
There is also an opportunity for professional growth and experience for the StudioAXIS Team in Indianapolis working on Asian projects whether virtually or physically being present in Asia. Through this global collaboration, StudioAXIS immediately increases its market sectors from 6 to 12 and welcomes the opportunity to work on larger projects.
“We’ll always have a local, design-centric approach to how we work with our clients,” said Drew. Our shared influences in the US, and now Southeast Asia expands our vision. A broader perspective can bring a big impact to our clients.”
Attracting the Best Talent
StudioAXIS is making talent attraction a top priority in 2023. As a mid-sized city, Indianapolis competes with larger markets like Chicago, NYC, and LA for design talent. The ability to work with a global team is a benefit for young professionals. Studio leadership envisions future opportunities where Bangkok and Bengaluru associates work at the US studio, and vice versa. Experiencing the dynamics of each country’s culture and client/project processes make better designers.
“Good ideas happen around the globe,” said Cory, “and collectively our teams will learn from each other and flourish together.”
Discover StudioAXIS projects online at studioaxis.com and follow on social media.