Taking a local business national, or even global, can be a massive undertaking, one that requires thorough due diligence, a strategic roadmap and big investment of time and money.
And then there are times when it happens much more organically.
That’s been the case for a handful of Portland architecture firms that have leveraged client relationships, niche expertise and cutting-edge building design to grow their footprints well beyond their hometown borders. The work is only a portion of what the teams do, but it’s work that is gaining them new ground and focusing eyes from elsewhere more sharply on what Rose City architects have to offer.
Scott | Edwards Architecture
Something big happened while Brian Mares, a principal with Portland’s Scott | Edwards Architecture, and his team were working with 10 Barrel Brewing on its Pearl District pub — Anheuser Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer by volume, bought the Bend brewery.
At the time, the firm was working on a rooftop deck for 10 Barrel’s pub. Everything ground to halt while the deal went through, but in short order,the brewpub opened its doors under the new ownership. And from the get-go, 10 Barrel’s rooftop deck, which Mares and his team designed, became one of the hottest places for a pint in town.
“I think we were able to really understand the flavor and the brand and blend it into the neighborhood and fabric of the Pearl District,” Mares said.
It wasn’t just fans of rooftop decks and pale ales that benefited from 10 Barrel’s Portland pub. Scott | Edwards Architecture itself hitched a ride on the Anheuser Busch train and has done work for a handful of the craft breweries around the U.S. that the king of beers has added to its lineup in recent years. That’s included: pubs for 10 Barrel in Denver and San Diego, as well as a 60,000-square-foot production brewery expansion in Bend; pubs for the California brewer Golden Road; three brewpubs for Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company; and a production facility, pub and headquarters office for Blue Point Brewing Companyin Patchogue, New York.
Mares said the firm hasn’t been intentionally growing its business nationally, but the relationship with Anheuser Busch has been a positive strategic opportunity. He sees the potential for more work with the brewing giant, which itself may lead to other projects from unrelated clients.
“Each person you meet brings new opportunity,” Mares said, “and we have just been able to accommodate what Anheuser Busch is looking for. Now, as people see our work around the country, we’re getting opportunities to meet with people who aren’t affiliated with Anheuser Busch. It’s growth by opportunity.”
Scott | Edwards Architecture has also generated national business from other local projects it’s done. Banfield Pet Hospital, the Vancouver, Washington, veterinarian clinic business, has enlisted the firm for about 110 different projects across 16 different states in the past five years. Jeff Hammond, a principal with Scott | Edwards Architecture, said navigating the different code requirements in other states can be challenging from an architectural standpoint, and he probably makes more than 125 flights each year to visit client sites — other big national ones that started locally include Big Al’s and the Old Spaghetti Factory — but it’s worth it.
“I think everyone sees that it’s worth our effort and the cost and the time to always make those kinds of contacts,” he said, noting that about 25 percent of the firm’s work is national.
When you’re designing office buildings that are or will be built out of mass timber, you’re bound to get noticed.
And that’s what’s been happening for Portland’s Lever Architecture, whose Albina Yard building was the first in the country to be made of domestically produced cross-laminated timber and who has designed a 12-story building planned for the Pearl District called Framework that’s destined to be the first timber high rise in the U.S.
But it’s not just new architectural projects that Lever’s picking up as its reputation spreads beyond Portland. The firm, founded in 2009 by Thomas Robinson, has also become a leading player in some high-profile national research efforts that are building the foundation for more resilient and sustainable buildings in the future.
“I think you learn how what you are doing locally fits into a national context, that what’s possible here can be applied to other cities,” Robinson said.
Partly from its work in mass timber projects, Lever has become a key collaborator in research around the seismic and structural stability of timber, its fire resistance and how projects like Framework might help “sequester carbon, support forest communities and create new options for forest management,” according to the company’s website.
These collaborations find Lever working with everyone from North Carolina State University and Walsh Construction Co. to the National Science Foundation. With the latter partner, LEVER and others are designing timber models that undergo seismic testing on an outdoor shake table to assess their resiliency in an earthquake.
Eventually, the research that Lever is involved in on a national scale could lead to more mass timber projects like Albina Yard and Framework in Portland and elsewhere.
“Portland is our home and we are always rooted here,” Robinson said. “The projects we do here are really important, because there’s no greater satisfaction than contributing to your own community.”
Portland architecture firm Hacker has done work in states across the West Coast, but it’s not a firm that’s going to just dive into any old market.
“It’s a big country, a big world, and we’ve had to be really strategic in where we invest our energy and resources,” said Sarah Bell, a principal with the firm. “We’ve always felt that if we can bring something, a relationship or an expertise to the work, then we can bring value to it. But we would be less likely to go cold into a new state or region without having relationships or some kind of connection.”
It was just such a connection that Hacker made through a local project that garnered it some new and prized business in Austin, Texas. About two years ago, Hacker did the interior design work for Moovel North America’s new offices in Old Town Chinatown. The project found Hacker redesigning the inside of the 1889 Overland Warehouse Building into a comfortable, creative space for the transit technology company’s 120 or so Portland employees.
Moovel is owned by German automaker Daimler, which also owns the luxury car-sharing service Car2Go. Thanks to its work on the Moovel office, Hacker landed the job to do the interior work on Car2Go’s Austin office.
“Getting work in a place like Austin, especially interior workplace design, would be hard to do if we didn’t have that client connection,” Bell said.
The fact that Car2Go’s office is in a cross-laminated timber building also gave Hacker yet another notch on its belt in the world of advanced wood products. The firm has worked on several local CLT projects, including the First Tech Federal Credit Union in Hillsboro and the forthcoming 525 SE MLK office building, so its reputation is spreading in the emerging field beyond Portland.
“We have been getting inquiries and it feels like we’re getting more opportunities in that space as well,” Bell said.
When he was an architect at Portland’s Boora Architects, David Hyman worked on close to 25 public projects, including several schools. When he and his wife, interior designer Sallee Humphrey, launched their own firm, DECA Architecture 20 years ago, public schools and higher education continued to be one of Hyman’s focus areas.
So when, about 12 years ago, another local architect, Ray Yancey, had an international contact looking to build a school in Taejon, South Korea, but not a lot of experience with those kinds of projects, he turned to Hyman. That led to a master plan for an American International School. Two of the buildings in that plan got built, but then the school’s lease got pulled and it had to move to a new 10-acre location. When it was time to design a whole new campus for the site, Hyman and Yancey were the obvious choice.
After that project, word got around, and Hyman and Yancey, who’s currently with Portland’s Myhre Group, landed several other American International School projects overseas. DECA’s portfolio now includes international education projects, some with Yancey, some not, in places like South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Tai Pei.
Hyman said such projects make up about 20 percent of DECA’s work. The schools, which follow a Western teaching methodology, seek out DECA for its expertise in designing facilities that work well with that approach to education but that also incorporate accents of the local culture.
To take on the overseas work, DECA often hires local architects and engineers to handle the load on the other side of the Pacific, after the bulk of the design work is done stateside.
“We usually do the initial design, meet with the clients and have some visioning sessions with them, and then take it usually through design development and partway through construction documents,” Hyman said. “And then, because of the specificity and different codes of each place, the local architect will take it from there, though we check in periodically.”
The firm relies on word of mouth for the work and also has attended an annual trade show of sorts overseas in the past to help drum up work.
But with the architecture business booming closer to home, Hyman said their faraway marketing efforts have tapered a bit. They’ve toyed with the idea of opening an office overseas to perhaps expand the business more, but Hyman said he’s hesitant, in part because of the added layers that would bring.
“The more you grow, the more you split off into other areas and departments,” he said. “We don’t want to grow out of the things we love in architecture.”
Title: Portland Architects Design their way to National, International Projects
Posted By: The Portland Business Journal
Author: Jon Bell
Date: June 7, 2018
Link: Original Article