CannonDesign Case Study

CannonDesign is an American architectural practice and design firm with offices all over the world. It was established in 1945 as Cannon and later changed its name to CannonDesign in the year 2000. This firm offers services of many project types including corporate headquarters, health centers, sports facilities, education and commercial office buildings, and many more that may or may not fall under the listed categories. This paper intends to analyze and describe the development, operation, practices, and structure of CannonDesign.

Firms Background

The Cannon family members have been associated with architecture and engineering for many years, going back to the early 1900s. However, the family had not been widely known until 1945, when John D. Cannon fully founded the Cannon Corporation. This grand business was operated by family members. The firm used to land commercial contracts from the growing Niagara metropolitan area. By the 1970s, Cannon had gained fame for excellence in its design work and mainly in the education and corporate sectors. The Cannon firm also received more widespread recognition after its good work at the California University was nationally recognized for designing sports facilities. Cannon had also got successful bids in over 50 states and overseas in the 1980s (Letourneau, & Sturnilo, n.d.). CannonDesign is a firm of integrated global design which unites a team of futurists, strategists, researchers, engineers, architects, and specialists in their industries that are driven by a common goal which is to help solve great challenges faced by society and their clients.

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Cannons vision is working together to create design solutions for the great challenges emerging in front of clients and the whole society. The defining strength of Cannon is their ability to use creative intelligence in their work and with their clients, as well as to come up with solutions thinking through the prism of technology, experiences, perspectives, and cultures. The firm is built purposefully to imply a high level of multidisciplinary thinking, allowing us to assess the situations from all angles and identify changes for improvement instead of conforming (Purpose: What we do, n.d.).

The firm vision is to be propelled by the following core values:

  1. Integrity, fairness, humility, honesty, and courage.
  2. Having clients as the key partners.
  3. Innovation, experimentation, and creativity.
  4. Mutual support, caring, collaboration, and respect.
  5. Productivity, accountability, and personal growth.

Project History

This firm was founded 100 years ago by Will Cannon, Sr. He began by working at an architecture shop which he owned alone in Niagara Falls, New York. He was an innovator and inventor by nature. His first major project was designing the hall of Niagara Falls City; it was a building made in Beaux-Arts style and completed in the year 1923, and it still stands strong today. Later, his two sons, Don and Will Jr, showed natural talents in engineering and architecture, and in 1945, together the trio came up with a family-owned business that has continually grown from humble roots to be among the leading designers in the world (Letourneau, & Sturnilo, n.d.).

Cannon went through several events that were not completely accidental. They then grew in stature, size, and expertise in the 20th century. Strategic partnerships and acquisitions created a healthy track record that made Cannon compete with other designers beyond the western parts of New York. Consistency in growth was brought about by having a landmark reputation and the firm’s client relationships (Letourneau, & Sturnilo, n.d.).

A heavily growing base of unique employees, a single firm adoption, and a Multi-Office model in the 90s made it into a firm of many employees working in nine offices with few slowdown signs. Cannon approached a new millennium with the assumption that it was going to bring unfamiliar challenges, unexpected advancements in technology, and completely new models in businesses for clients in their core markets of education and health. The evolution of the idea-based exercise signified the belief that design was by far more than just a project. It defines why projects exist, their function, how their values are imparted to the users, and how inevitably it will change. The paradigm above empowered them to be more flexible, responsive, nimble firms better positioned to get more work from clients (Our work, n.d.).

Human Services Package

CannonDesign offers individual packages to those who face various disabilities. They help people plan in a way that will promote achieving great success in design. Planning and designing on a challenge are done in a manner that best suits and will make the family members feel comfortable and appreciate their career life. They also help clients identify goals and the method to achieve them. Giving to the community is also one of the beliefs of the company it helps those not capable of meeting the expected costs with no designs (Letourneau, & Sturnilo, n.d.).

Strategic Planning and Growth

Client Partnership

CannonDesign has a habit of engaging progressively with its clients to understand their challenges and opportunities during the lifetime of the partnership with the client. For the company, clients are the main target. They keep the company flowing and growing, hence, if a good relationship is not created, a company will end up losing its clients, running into losses, and even closing. CannonDesign not only views the relationships with clients through the lens of the project but dedicates itself to the overall success of the client. CannonDesign values meaningful collaboration and enjoys exploring future possibilities (Our culture, n.d.).

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Our Advantages

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Commitment to Ethics/Compliance

CannonDesign is greatly committed to championing and maintaining a culture whereby integrity, compliance, and ethics are supreme factors in all the decisions they make. All the departments should be committed to achieving specific objectives and goals and ensuring that they follow the company’s expected standards, all keeping in mind the strategic plans. The firm’s mission of compliance is establishing a program and a formal strategy to improve the way of living and demonstrate its vision.


Cannon utilizes the structure of its organization to help create the hierarchy of business and determine all the staffing levels that are needed for it to perform efficiently. They jointly leverage their comprehensive services suites to drive organizations’ real outcomes and at the same time empower learning, promote health, advance businesses, guard businesses, and create the community. Their wide range of services allows Cannon to support organizations’ solutions viewed in 360 degrees. They include: grow, plan, define, explore, research, design, deliver, optimize, and assess. Thus, this has enabled them to offer services in engineering, architecture, interior design, health advisory services, education advisory services, commissioning, master planning, design-led construction, environmental graphics, workplace strategy, lighting design, sustainability services, facility optimization solutions, and site landscape architecture (CannonDesign, n.d.).

On the surface, this firm is made up of planners, architects, engineers, industrial specialists, and strategists spanning many disciplines. However, at the core, they are artists, makers, inventors, techies, data geeks, loud voices, and thrill-seekers in the industry’s flourishing creative culture. Therefore, being an employer, the company supports the diversity of thought and ideas that are innovative. The teams of employees are wrapped to one another in terms of ideas, and this builds camaraderie of high intensity. They also engage themselves with other people who will inspire the communities as well as the clients for thinking about the unknown and embrace design power (CannonDesign, n.d.).

Corporate Culture


Character is defined as the behavior of an individual when no one is looking. The individual character will with time influence a group’s character, and it is therefore important for individual employees to have good characters. In this firm, the character of individuals dictates their decisions, determines clients’ relationships and the general operation in the firm. The employees are not only efficient in their operations but they are also humble, personable, forward-thinking, ambitious, and more importantly, act with honesty and integrity (Our Culture, n.d.).


Collaboration is not the result of signs on the wall or a clear floor plan but the outcome of bringing together the right people to solve problems. Thus, the future building must be done in a very innovative way. The work team is geographically apart but visionary united (CannonDesign, n.d.).


Companies should be committed to achieving their goals and objectives but take into consideration the various entities that affect their operations. The Cannon firm is committed to its clients, one another, to designing excellence, and to Earth’s future. They always aim to complete what they started, holding themselves accountable and measuring their efforts by considering success and outcomes (CannonDesign, n.d.). They are also proud of themselves for creating well-designed suitable solutions and valuing the process of achieving customer expectations.

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Community involvement greatly helps companies in distinguishing themselves from competitors and gaining customers. In the end, it benefits more from giving back to the community. As a result, Cannon believes in giving back to the community as part of their DNA. Through Open Hands Studio, they usually provide design services to those who cannot access them, although they lack some features. They recognize that the public should benefit from design power and seek opportunities in the community to make impacts that are beyond firm walls (CannonDesign, n.d.).


Cannon works with a lot of curiosity about the already created environment. This helps fuel the path to facing challenges. They try to find it through the lens of analysts, strategists, designers, or marketing specialists, or any other thing between. Does curiosity inspire questions like why not and what if? This keeps them moving ahead. Their unending need for different answers and new questions makes them better employees, better people, and better designers (Purpose: What we do, n.d.).

Succession Plan

CannonDesign, more specifically, the human resource department, is responsible for developing the succession plan in collaboration with top management. The main purpose of the succession plan is to identify which of your employees have the potential to take the company’s top positions in case the former appointees can no longer continue serving in those positions. Effective succession will ensure that the organization’s stability is maintained, and they still have a clear vision of attaining their goals and objectives (CannonDesign, n.d.).

Cannon is aimed at having and making plans that ensure a positive and coordinated flow in leadership across numerous people presently and in the future. A cannon’s succession plan is determined by the representatives of top management. Top management takes advice from all the representatives and then comes up with a well-analyzed succession plan. The board of directors and various executives in Cannon usually ensure that the successful transitions occur smoothly and with few disruptions or none at all (CannonDesign, n.d.).

A cannons succession plan helps them ensure that no employee is in a certain position indefinitely. It provides a good strategy and an easily understandable process of how the transition to a position will occur and how it will be overseen and checked for meeting all the standards. Cannon has also got a department that is in charge of developing and nurturing young talents who are going to be the future experts in various services. As a result, Cannon always has quality employees in all their departments and branches globally (Our work, n.d.). The young employees who are seen to have the knowledge, qualities, and skills that can in the future meet the expected requirements are the ones that are groomed and later come to occupy key positions in management.


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