Welcoming Global, Sustainable Design in 2019
In October 2015, DLR Group operated 15 offices with 710 employee-owners. As we enter 2019, we have 1,200 design professionals serving clients globally from 30 locations. This growth has added new geographies, markets, and a greater depth of design specialization to our employee-owned firm. Throughout the past three years we have leaned on our core values – Commitment, Creativity, Environmental Stewardship, Integrity, Ownership, Sharing, Teamwork and Fun – to ensure our growth is complementary to, and enhances, DLR Group’s design culture.
Awards are a direct reflection of our core values of Teamwork and Creativity. DLR Group is an integrated design firm and this is reflected in the range of awards we earned in 2018: 58 awards that included 22 AIA awards; six ASHREA awards; three IIDA awards; an AIA Committee on the Environment Award for the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery; and the design of the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit, Missouri garnered a coveted American Architecture Award for 2018 from the Chicago Athenaeum.
Meda in Minneapolis by DLR Group. Photo by Brandon Stengel.
DLR Group also maintains a Commitment to provide a work environment to meet the needs of today’s design professional. We understand it’s not where you work or how you work. It’s about the work. We have embraced a distributed leadership model, and leverage technology that empowers design teams of the best and brightest sitting in multiple offices to best solve the unique design challenges of clients around the world.
To recognize the efforts of our employee-owners in this work-anywhere-at-anytime workplace, we appointed two new senior principals, 26 new principals, 67 new senior associates, and 114 new associates in 2018. Each of these new leaders are evidence of our core value of Ownership, and the competitive advantage our employee-owned model brings to our firm.
Our Guiding Commitment to Sustainability
Environmental Stewardship is an essential core value. DLR Group is a passionate voice for the Architecture 2030 Challenge, sustainable design, and a leading voice in the growing conversation about mass timber design and construction.
T3 Goose Island in Chicago by DLR Group. Rendering by DLR Group.
With the International Code Council's approval of the tall mass timber code change proposals which sets fire safety requirements, allowable heights, and areas and number of stories for tall mass timber buildings, 2019 adds momentum to our developing expertise as a source for mass timber design. We have two active T3 – also known as Timber, Transit, and Technology – projects currently underway; one in a burgeoning neighborhood in Atlanta and another in Chicago’s Goose Island, which is shaping up to be one of the largest mass timber structure in the U.S. in the modern construction era. We continue to stretch the boundaries of our creativity with conceptual design studies that reimagine what a timber skyline might look like in San Francisco or Seattle.
DLR Group recently shared its third annual Environmental Stewardship Report with the design industry. This report documents the commitment, and progress, of our design teams to meet the goals of the 2030 Challenge. In 2018, DLR Group designs resulted in a 49 percent energy reduction compared to average buildings, according to Architecture 2030’s Zero Tool database.
Canyon View High School in Waddell, Arizona by DLR Group. Photo by Tom Reich.
To meet the aims of the 2030 Challenge, our design teams must not only reduce energy use; we also must advance on-site energy production and develop tools and innovative systems to conserve and store energy on-site. DLR Group designed more than 20 megawatts of solar energy systems for clients in 2018. And at the recently opened Canyon View High School in suburban Phoenix, we’re piloting the performance of a unique bio phase change material, or Bio-PCM, which has long been applied in the aerospace industry. We predict that bringing this technology down to earth will help us design passive climate control more effectively, and create more comfortable, healthy environments for virtually any building type.
Sharing is another DLR Group core value. We’ve doubled down on high-performance, evidence-based design and made the research outcomes of our studios available to our clients, who deserve to know the why behind our design recommendations, and to our peers and the public through our website, social media, and in presentations at design industry conferences. Sharing information like the quality of the air we breathe, and just how natural light physiologically affects our ability to perform, propels our industry forward and helps everyone who experiences our projects – from the designers behind those spaces to the user our buildings.
The Huili School in Shanghai by DLR Group. Photo by Ke Zhong Zhou.
Global Influence and Reach
Great design transcends borders. We’ve reinforced our commitments overseas with new leadership and growth opportunities in the Middle East and China, respectively. Jamal Salem now leads our design studio in Dubai and our Shanghai studio recently moved to a larger office space to accommodate its growing design staff. We also celebrated the opening of the DLR Group-designed Huili School, a prestigious bilingual institution in Shanghai’s Qiantan International Business Zone. Integrity is a core value of this firm, and through these periods of growth, we remain committed to respectfully supporting the local communities in which we practice and integrating our international offices in local customs and traditions to elevate the human experience through design.
Commitment to Each Other
As an employee-owned firm, Ownership is a foundational core value and we owe it to ourselves to invest in each other. In 2018, we made several investments to enrich the employee-owner experience at DLR Group. To meet the evolving needs of our employee-owners and clients Brooke Grammier joined the firm as chief information officer and Becky Schnack was to elevated chief financial officer to support our growing enterprise. During the year we launched two (d)R&D grants for teams to investigate specific design innovations and awarded several Professional Development Grants to enable our design professionals to explore a personal passion. Among this year’s PDG winners were two podcasts that explored resilient design culture, and women in our industry; and an exploration of various technology applications to improve the contract administration process. The PDG program is a growing tradition that impacts not only our employee-owners, but our communities of practice. A PDG from 2017 that explored design ethics will be the subject of a presentation at the AIA’s upcoming 2019 convention in Las Vegas.
Oberlin College Eric Baker Nord Performing Arts Annex in Oberlin, Ohio by DLR Group|WRL. Photo by Kevin G Reeves.
Finally, we must maintain our passion and enjoy what we do. Fun is the final DLR Group value. Fun means different things to different people, and we embrace all those definitions. Fun is office culture, the comradery found within a design team, and employee-owners celebrating the joy of awards and the firm’s success. Fun is solving a design challenge, and it is volunteering and giving back to the industry or the local community. Our growth is providing the employee-owners of DLR Group new avenues to have fun and embrace the opportunities available to them within their growing firm.
I’ve said it before, but it is worth saying again. Our goal is not to be a big firm. It’s to be a great firm. A highly-differentiated, deeply integrated, global design leader. And 2019 will be another exciting year in our realization of that goal.