Diversification Seen as a Key to Industry Success
Speakers are (L-R, front row) Scott Ceasar, Cosentini Associates; Brian Spence, BAM Architecture Studio; Anthony C. Baker, ACB Architects PLLC; (L-R, back row) Frank Pampalone, Walmart Realty; Beth Greenberg, Dattner Architects; Heidi Blau, FXFOWLE; Robert A. Bennett, Rabco Engineering P.C.; Lenore Janis, PWC; Lina Gottesman, Altus Metal, Marble & Wood.
There is room for optimism despite challenging times, especially if a firm is willing to diversify said the guest speakers at Professional Women in Construction’s (PWC) “Meet the Architects and Engineers.” The annual program drew a packed house from all sectors of the A/E/C industries to Club 101 in New York City on Aug. 22.
Heidi Blau, partner at FXFOWLE, noted that the firm concentrates on sustainable architecture, urban design, infrastructure and interiors. The Washington D.C. market remains stable for commercial and residential developments. Saying that “diversity will be the key for us to remain strong,” she spoke of FXFOWLE’s joint ventures for the Javits Center’s renovation and upcoming medical/educational facilities.
Blau also cited such highlights as the Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus, NYU, and potential work with Cornell’s new tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Thirty percent of the firm’s work is now overseas.
Anthony C. Baker, managing principal of ACB Architects, said that transportation work with airlines and Amtrak have proved to be the company’s best venues. One major project in progress is upgrading 500 Amtrak stations nationally and making them handicap accessible.
Scott Ceasar, senior vice president of Cosentini Associates, concurred with Blau on the need to diversify. He noted that Cosentini’s ability to offer innovative solutions to complex challenges led ExxonMobil to select the firm for its 4 million sq. ft. corporate campus in Houston.
In years to come, Cosentini is anticipating more emphasis on sustainability; high-end residential work; cultural and institutional projects; and corporate interiors fit-outs.
Brian Spence, co-founder and principal of BAM Architecture Studio, said that its revenue has grown each year since 2003 and that “BAM Architecture Studio has geographically diversified with growing offices in North Carolina, California as well as our original NYC headquarters.”
With typical projects carrying a construction cost of $15 million, he noted a recently completed 140,000 sq. ft. biotech renovation in Ardsley, N.Y. BAM is working on a master plan for 850,000 sq. ft. of offices in Pennsylvania and a master plan for four R & D buildings totaling 440,000 sq. ft. in Tarrytown.
Frank Pampalone, director project design and management, Walmart Realty, noted that the firm is both the largest employer in the United States and the world’s largest retailer with more than 10,000 units in 27 nations. Walmart increased net sales by 5.9 percent to $443.9 billion last year, adding 52.2 million sq. ft.
“We believe the momentum throughout our company positions us very well for the rest of the year,” said Pampalone who also noted that Walmart “continues to evaluate local opportunities.”
Beth Greenberg, principal of Dattner Architects, said that the mid-sized firm concentrates on civic projects. The firm’s core culture and strengths has helped navigate the tough times: principal involvement on projects; breadth of practice; sustainability; designing in BIM; client partnerships; expansion of the private sector portfolio.
Planned and current Dattner projects include NY Presbyterian Hospital’s Woman’s Imaging Center; PS 342/Riverside Center School; and Columbia Manhattanville’s Academic Conference Center Building.
Robert A. Bennett, president, Rabco Engineering P.C., with offices in New York and Thailand, said that the firm specializes in foundations, marine work and general structure.
Major projects worldwide include San Francisco’s International Airport expansion; Columbia University’s chemistry research labs; structural revisions of the Cunard Building; a NE India 2050 Master Plan; and the Tsunami Recovery Program in Phuket, Thailand. Rabco organizes the annual IDCM conference in SE Asia.