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DLR Group is Evolving. Along with Our Communities.

The employee-owners of DLR Group believe we can be advocates for change. Our ambition is to use our collective design voice to bring about a better society and create stronger communities by recognizing and addressing longstanding inequities in our nation.

Leading this change – to deliver a more equitable culture – aligns with DLR Group’s Core Values and our brand promise to elevate the human experience through design. By exploring, discovering, sharing, and ultimately resolving inequities identified within our firm and the broader A/E/C industry, we can develop a more diverse and inclusive design culture to better fulfill our brand promise.

We are in pursuit of long-term solutions that will lead to a more equitable workplace. Doing so will be a journey, but we have taken our first steps.

An Equity Forum

As a 100% employee-owned firm, we’re all empowered to drive change. During the development of DLR Group’s current five-year strategic plan, employee-owners shared their belief that equity needed to be a priority and a bold step we take together to foster understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

A large, crowded meeting ballroom with round meeting tables and circular pendant lights. Portable easels hold vision boards.

During the development of DLR Group’s current five-year strategic plan, employee-owners shared their belief that equity needed to be a priority and a bold step we take together. Photo © DLR Group.

With this goal in mind, DLR Group has implemented a formal Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Program. This program is guided by an Equity Forum consisting of employee-owners from a cross-section of design disciplines and offices. The guiding purpose of the Equity Forum is to provide strategic guidance to firm leadership on equity initiatives to positively impact our employee-owners, our clients, our industry, and the communities we serve. The Forum will be a leader in pushing forward DLR Group’s vision of fostering a culture of transparency and equity.

Real, lasting change starts by holding a mirror up to ourselves and having the hard conversations about where inequities may exist within our own walls – to understand not only the macro issues that impact our society, but the nuanced micro issues in our offices and neighborhoods. To further this understanding teams of senior firm leaders are participating in a focused education program to deepen their understanding of equity and social justice issues in our culture, the design industry, and in our firm.

Industry Leadership

Outside our walls, DLR Group is spearheading equity efforts in the A/E/C industry. Chaired by CEO Griff Davenport, FAIA, the AIA Large Firm Round Table (LFRT) has set a goal to double the number of architects who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color by 2030. The LFRT is also providing financial support and working in partnership the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) to break down cultural and racial barriers in the A/E/C professions to create more equitable work environments.

Employee-owners across DLR Group are also advocating for change by investing in industry organizations including the ACE Mentorship Program, which introduces high school students to careers in architecture, engineering, and construction, as well as Black Architects in the Making, Girls in STEM, and their local NOMA chapters.

Providing a Platform

DLR Group Personal Development Grants offer employee-owners a chance to explore a personal passion outside of their design work. In 2020, Edwin Roa, an employee-owner in DLR Group’s Washington, D.C. office began a two-year journey to raise consciousness about immigration and human rights issues facing migrant families living along the U.S. and Mexico border. Using funds from the grant, Edwin produced a documentary in partnership with three non-profit organizations, capturing the turmoil, uncertainty, and unfettered hope of those wanting to cross into the United States. This documentary brought new awareness to the employee-owners of DLR Group about the human experience of families and individuals seeking a new life within our country.

Border Awareness documentary by Edwin Roa

Design as a Tool for Change

To truly be a catalyst for change we must adapt our design approach to encourage community groups to share their ideas and desires with DLR Group design teams. In short, we need to design with, not just for people.

An example of this shift is the design process for Freedom West Homes in San Francisco.

The vision for this ambitious project is to renew the unique urban character of Freedom West throughout its four city blocks, providing new facilities and a sustainable future for a largely African American and East Asian population. DLR Group’s design will restore the neighborhood’s original character and reintroduce a public square to bring people together.

As a response to the city of San Francisco’s call to maintain equity as the bottom line for Freedom West homes, the design team believes the project can only be an accurate reflection of equality if the team reflects a diverse group of minds. We have pledged to provide local certified small businesses and minority-owned design firms with real design agency in shaping the future of their community.

In 2021, DLR Group provided pro bono assistance to a pair of Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee – to secure grant funding to repair and restore historical buildings on each campus through the Cultural Heritage Stewardship Fund, part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Exterior view of J.K. Daniels Conference Center

Rich in History but Long Underfunded

These Campuses Will be Preserved

A new pilot program is designed to help HBCUs preserve significant buildings and sites on their campuses – an initiative that is long overdue.

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These grants will fund new Cultural Heritage Stewardship Plans, provide technical assistance from the National Trust, and empower HBCUs with the resources to protect and preserve their historic campuses, buildings, and landscapes, while supporting professional development opportunities for a college student.

A group of smiling people gathered for a photo. the front row is crouched low.

What the employee-owners of DLR Group are working toward is not a switch we can flip. It’s a long-term effort that will be made in collaboration with our clients, communities, and peers in the design profession. As a firm and as individuals, we are committed to investing our time, energy, and resources toward a more equitable and just society.


What We're Saying

Every project and client solution starts with a spark of an idea. Design thinking and problem solving are some of the ways we start to engage a design challenge.

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Our sector, discipline, and executive leaders are dispersed to mentor the next generation of employee-owners, counsel clients, and share their design voice in their local communities.

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