San Antonio-based Overland Partners Architects earned the 2010 Firm of the Year title from the Texas Society of Architects.

Overland Partners Earns Statewide Accolades
Photo: Overland Partners
Overland Partners designed �The Bridge� project in Dallas.

The Architecture Firm Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a firm in Texas that has consistently produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years and has contributed to the profession and community.

“This is an award we’re particularly excited about because it’s about celebrating the totality of the people that make Overland what it is today and those who contributed over the past 20 years,” Overland principal Bob Shemwell tells Texas Construction.

“We are an office that’s built on a set of core values. We have a mission to influence the world through the practice of architecture, and the firm strives to use architecture as a medium for transformation.”

He says the firm earned the award because of its mission and core values. The firm has about 60 people on staff and is working a range of projects internationally.

Current projects include a net-zero-energy building at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; a mixed-use project in China; and projects in Brazil, Europe, Mexico and across the U.S.

“We feel particularly blessed because if you have a small geographic reach right now it is hard to stay busy,” Shemwell says. “We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve never had to lay anyone off in our entire history for lack of work. We try to manage our growth and not get ahead of what we think we can support on an ongoing basis.”

Recently, Overland Partners led task forces of community organizations, civic entities and design firms to design homeless assistance centers that can serve a city’s homeless population with dignity and respect.

Two centers, the Bridge in Dallas and Haven for Hope in San Antonio, have become international models for how cities can care for their needy.

Since its opening in 2008, the Bridge has been honored by many national and international groups, including the American Institute of Architects Housing Award, the AIA/HUD Secretary Award and the 2010 international “ReBranding Homelessness” Award for Design given by South Africa-based GROUP.