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Steve Goldade, center, leads a meeting with a design team at Lightowler Johnson and Associates in Fargo. Nick Wagner / The Forum

Making a Mark: LJA architect designs 1,000th hotel

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Name: Steve Goldade

Position: Vice president and head of the architectural department at LJA (Lightowler Johnson Associates) in Fargo.

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His story: Goldade recently celebrated an impressive career milestone. The groundbreaking of TMI Hospitality’s Homewood Suites in Portage, Mich., marks the 1,000th hotel Goldade designed. He is unaware of another architect who has achieved the same.

His first hotel was a Super 8 built in Waterloo, Iowa, by local hotel developer Gary Tharaldson in 1988.

Goldade was working for a church builder at the time. He was licensed in several different states and Tharaldson needed an architect who could work in Iowa.

A longstanding business relationship developed. Goldade consulted on a number of additional hotels before moving to Fargo to accept a full-time position with Tharaldson Development in 1997.

In 2001, he joined LJA, where he continued to design for Tharaldson as well as a number of other hotel developers.

Goldade has designed hotels in 42 states, spanning from Alaska to Texas and California to New York. He has worked with franchises including Marriott International, Choice Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Worldwide, LaQuinta and Best Western International.

One of his favorite projects was a four-hotel complex constructed on one site just a few blocks off the Las Vegas Strip.

He said what still gets him excited about the job is the challenge.

“It’s fun to get a project done at a location where it’s extremely difficult to get in there,” he said.

Challenges include how much space there is to work with, getting the highest room count possible into a tight site and local jurisdictional covenants that restrict how and what can be built. All of these must be considered while still following the franchise’s guidelines for appearance.

While much of his focus today is on hotel design, Goldade has been involved in a number of other commercial projects over the years. His most recent was serving as the lead architect of the North Dakota Heritage Center’s multimillion-dollar expansion in Bismarck.

Honors: Under Goldade’s leadership, LJA has earned a number of honors including Top Architects & Designers, Top Hotel Design & Architecture Firms, Leading Commercial Architecture Firms and Top Commercial Architects.

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