The first time architect Christopher Pfaeffle met with Baltimore developer Patrick Turner, the two men had to step over a Big Wheel to get to Pfaeffle's office. “I was doing consulting and laying low after being in the business for 15 years,” Pfaeffle says. “When Pat called, I said, ‘Let me just warn you: I am a one-man show, I'm very happy, and I'm working out of my basement.‘”

It's nearly a decade later, and Pfaeffle's practice, Parameter Inc., is no longer headquartered in his family's row house. Now with a staff of 10, the Parameter office sits in the shadow of one of the firm's most ambitious endeavors, the Silo Point condominiums, which will go on sale this summer. Turner hired Pfaeffle to transform a 300-foot-tall 1920s grain elevator and silo complex on 15 acres of prime Baltimore waterfront into a sleek mixed-use condominium development.

Parameter has earned a reputation in Baltimore for successfully navigating complex adaptive-reuse projects, and Pfaeffle is in the position of choosing the kind of work that fits the firm's philosophy. While he could make the leap and grow his staff, he has decided to keep Parameter small for now. “Architecture firms should be a combination of learning, exploration, study, and knowing how to get things built,” he says. “I'm more interested in trying to find appropriate projects than in just getting bigger.”