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Architect helps shape his community

Brunner's Axis Design Group is handling several local projects
by: Carole Archer, Axis Design Group partners Tim Brunner, right, and Brian Knight peruse plans for Gresham projects in their office. “We’ve never been as busy as we are right now,” Brunner says. They plan on expanding the company and adding employees.

By his own admission, Tim Brunner is a perfectionist.

'To a fault,' he says after straightening out a picture frame that had dipped slightly in the reception area of his business, Axis Design Group.

That kind of mentality has led to busy times and expansion plans for the Gresham architect and his business partner, Brian Knight, a structural engineer.

The 36-year-old Brunner, part of Barlow High School's class of 1988, started Axis Design Group in 2000 with six employees. But a growing list of projects, including the new Kia Weston building on the former Zimmerman 12-Mile Store property, the Riegelmann's Appliance expansion and an expanded Courtyard Fountains, has led the company to add space for 15 employees. Brunner and Knight plan on hiring four more employees, as well.

'We've never been as busy as we are right now,' Brunner says.

The goal is to make Axis Design Group into a one-stop shop for building design. It offers architectural, interior design and structural engineering services.

Brunner has known that architecture was in his future since the eighth grade. An architect friend of his father, who was himself an engineer, inspired him to earn a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Oregon.

He says he finds architecture's blending of art, engineering and politics appealing.

'Taking an idea and turning it into something for people is exciting,' Brunner says. 'It's really important to design space that meets people's needs and makes a home adapt to your lifestyle.'

Brunner, who met Knight at a Bible-study fellowship, is on the council at East Hill Church. He is also on the board at the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce and is past president of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce.

Axis Design Group, which has numerous projects in and around Portland and Southwest Washington, is also designing a high-end custom home in the Persimmon Country Club community.

The Kia Weston building was 'pretty important,' Brunner says, because of the site's significant history. The aim was to design a building that presented a nice backdrop to the high-visibility corner.

It's ironic that his company has worked with several car dealerships on new buildings, he says. As a child Brunner loved cars, especially drawing them, and wanted to be an automobile designer.

Store owner Jim Riegelmann, for one, is glad Brunner chose architecture. He notes Brunner's success with projects in Gresham.

'He takes pride in what he's doing,' Riegelmann says. 'We're very pleased with him.'

Brunner and Knight say they want Axis Design Group to be the premier design group for Portland's east side and Gresham.

'I see myself doing this for a very long time,' Brunner says. 'I love what I do. This is what God wanted me to do.'