Founded by Jack C. Cohen in 1953, the firm helped to build Washington’s suburbs. As the name of the firm continued to evolve (Cohen & Haft, CHK), the firm designed more than 300,000 residential units in the Washington Metropolitan area in a variety of types and styles. Our success in residential design led to a 1972 Washington Post article which proclaimed the firm the “Architects of the Suburbs”. Throughout the next two decades the firm enjoyed continued success in the residential, commercial, senior living and educational areas. The ‘90s, however, brought hardship, both professionally and personally. First came the recession in the early part of the decade, taking us from 165 to 37 people. Then, in 1993, came the death of the firm’s President, Jack Kerxton (the “K” in CHK).
Architect John Torti, who joined the firm in 1973 and succeeded Kerxton as President, knew something had to be done. Along with Tom Gallas, the firm’s Chief Financial Officer, he changed the course of the firm “180 degrees”, turning it into the “reformers of the suburbs”. We became a firm dedicated to cleaning up the mess that we had helped to create. With a commitment to the principles of the New Urbanism, Torti remade the firm in the image of his beliefs. In 1998, the firm name was changed to Torti Gallas and Partners to not only reflect a new era of leadership, but also a new dedication to urban design and architecture which resembles that of the best traditional American cities and towns.
Torti and his creative partners have built a firm that understands the inextricable tie between urban design and architecture, between great cities and great buildings, and between conceptual thinking and creating value within individual buildings, as well as how to enhance that value through the design of the surrounding environment.