A Design Perspective
Chris Huckabee, CEO of the architecture, engineering and program-management firm Huckabee in Fort Worth, says 2008 was the firm�s best year ever, and he hoped revenue could stay level. However, �we�re going to be up 5% to 6%, and I attribute that to clients who see value in the marketplace today,� he says.
Huckabee has added more than $150 million in current work that was not on the books coming into 2009. The company is working on a $39-million, 141,500-sq-ft, 6,000-seat auditorium and professional development center for the Mansfield ISD in Mansfield and is designing an elementary school for the Copperas Cove ISD in Copperas Cove. The firm has several elementary and middle school projects yet to start for Longview ISD in Longview.
Mitch Paradise, vice president of Corgan Associates in Dallas, describes 2009 as being “excellent. We learned a good deal and achieved success through a bit of fortune but not by accident.”
Corgan has diversified the projects it pursues, which includes a large amount of government work. The firm has retained all of its talent and has had no layoffs.
“We have backlog and our best people around us,” Paradise says. “You have to be prepared for the rainy day and strive to retain relationships.”
Corgan designed a $90-million high school for the Northwest ISD and has a high school in design now for the Dallas ISD. The company is designing a $500-million terminal redevelopment and modernization program at Dallas Love Field. The firm also is working with HDR of Dallas on the design of Parkland hospital’s $1.27-billion replacement facility in Dallas.
Some firms, such as HKS of Dallas, had to lay off staff and negotiate payment schedules with clients.
“2009 has been a character builder for all of us,” says Ralph Hawkins, chairman and CEO of HKS in Dallas. “Texas is in such a great economy compared to the rest of the nation. We are fortunate to be here.”
HKS is working on several hospital jobs. The company is designing the $250 million JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Hotel & Spa, and has sports projects at Texas Christian University, University of North Texas and the University of Texas at Arlington. Hawkins sees positives on the horizon but fierce competition for those projects that are moving forward.
John Cryer, a principal with PageSoutherlandPage in Houston, says that while 2009 was not as strong as 2008, it has been OK, with the energy sector remaining stabile. The firm is working on alternative energy projects, but Cryer says he can’t disclose details.
“What was really remarkable was how everyone adapted,” says Jimmy Strohmeyer, managing principal of SHW Group in Plano. “You either adapt or go out of business. You have to be able to fine-tune your staff. We will exit 2009 a much better firm than we were going into it.”
SHW Group revisited its business model, resized, laid off some staff and focused on its core business—schools and career and technical academies.
“We got our firm more efficient, so we can be more flexible,” Strohmeyer says. “You trim and make it more healthy.”
The Nixon-Smiley Consolidated ISD selected SHW Group to design renovations and additions of the district’s elementary, middle and high school campuses, all part of a $13-million bond package. The $6-million, 28,500-sq ft Workforce and Continuing Education Building at Brookhaven College, part of the Dallas County Community College District, designed by SHW Group, broke ground in 2009. Phillips/May Corp. of Dallas is the construction manager.
And Turner topped out the 120,000-sq-ft Science and Academic Building, designed by SHW Group, at Tarrant County College District’s Southeast Campus in Arlington.