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Harley Ellis Devereaux expands team in Southfield

Harley Ellis Devereaux is growing its team at all levels at its Metro Detroit office in Southfield.

The national architecture firm has hired nine people over the last year, expanding its staff to 120 employees and one intern. It is also looking to hire four people, including engineers, project managers and a higher education studio lead. The firm has already hired a variety of engineers, architects and project managers, along with a new principal for the office.

"There is nothing like new people to improve our talent pool," says Michael Cooper, managing principal of Harley Ellis Devereaux's Metro Detroit office. "It also boosts the morale of the office."

Cooper credits the firm's growth to a number of factors, ranging from the customer satisfaction with the firm’s work to the improving national economy.

"The economy is cooperating," Cooper says. "It's getting stronger. Our clients are more active."

Harley Ellis Devereaux is 106 years old. The firm offers a wide variety of services, ranging from planning, architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, interior design, and construction services. It has offices in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Source: Michael Cooper, managing principal of Harley Ellis Devereaux's Metro Detroit office
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Harley Ellis Devereaux adds 40 people to workforce

Slow and steady isn't just wining the race for Harley Ellis Devereaux, it's leading to some prolonged growth for the architecture and engineering firm.

The company has hired 40 people over the last year, bringing its overall staff to 226 employees and a couple of summer interns. The business has offices in California and Chicago but the lion's share of its employees are in its Southfield headquarters, a number that has been expanding thanks to new work in areas like corporate business and K-12 education.

"It's ramping up," says Michael Cooper, managing principal of Harley Ellis Devereaux. "It's been slow growth but it has been steady growth." He adds that he expects that streak to continue over the next year in all of the firm's offices. "People are feeling a bit more confident in what is happening," Cooper says.

Harley Ellis Devereaux has been winning some awards from the Construction Association of Michigan over the last year. It recently shared "Green Project of the Year" with Turner Construction for its sustainable design and buildout of  the Community Health and Social Services Center, a LEED Silver certified building, in southwest Detroit. Harley Ellis Devereaux and DeMaria Building Co were also recognized for  one of the "Most Outstanding Projects of 2012" for its work on Wayne State University’s Chemistry Building renovations and expansion.

"It's always nice when the industry and your peers recognize your work," Cooper says, adding that the awards have helped with the firm's public relations and recruiting efforts.

Source: Michael Cooper, managing principal of Harley Ellis Devereaux
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Harley Ellis Devereaux hires 12 on strength of Midwest markets

An expanding workload from the midwest is driving growth for Harley Ellis Devereaux, allowing the architecture/ engineering firm to hire a dozen people over the last year.

"There is growth in the rest of the country but it's not as fast as the Midwest this year," says Michael Cooper, managing principal of Harley Ellis Devereaux. "We're seeing growth everywhere but it seems nationally that the Midwest is leading."

The Southfield-based businesses revenue is up 15 percent over 2011. That has allowed the company to hire a dozen people and it has another half a dozen job openings right now. Cooper is "cautiously optimistic" about future growth and expects to keep hiring.

"We try to grow as quickly as we can but in a responsible manner," Cooper says.

Driving this growth is an increase in work from the corporate/commercial, K-12 education, higher education and health-care sectors, among others. "We anticipate there will be more opportunities and more growth," Cooper says.

Source: Michael Cooper, managing principal of Harley Ellis Devereaux
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Design Evolution Workshop opens in Detroit's Burtonplex

A trio of young architects are trying to change the game in Detroit's newest small business incubator - the Burton-Plex.

Patrick Jones (27), Derek Roberts (32), and James Willer (35) opened Design Evolution Workshop in January after spending a year working on the concept. The firm's ethos revolves around allowing architects to become true leaders in the built environment so they can have more influence when it comes to making the best long-term decisions.

"Instead of being leaders in the built environment we have been set on the back burner," says Willer, the firm's CFO. He adds that he has seen more than his fair share of architects left cowering in coffee shop corners after being lectured by developers, but his firm will empower them to have a stronger voice when it comes to making people recognize the long-term accountability of what they build.

Design Evolution Workshop does that with social-media oriented software. This allows developers to run project ideas past a community of architects and stakeholders. The end result is a range of choices of how best to proceed and what the short- and long-term consequences will be for the project.

"This competitive process is community vetted so the best project rises to the top," Willer says.

Design Evolution Workshop is also working with the city of Detroit to involve more younger architects in the deconstruction of the Motor City's neglected building stock. The idea is to utilize the region's out-of-work architects (Willer and Roberts have both been laid off recently as the architecture world contracts) and give younger ones a better appreciation for the existing built environment.

"We're potentially losing a whole generation of young architects because they can't get their accreditation hours," Willer says.

Source: James Willer, CFO of Design Evolution Workshop
Writer: Jon Zemke

GREEN SPACE: MISource launched to connect municipalities with local, green-savvy designers

The good news is that there is $80 million worth of federal government stimulus money earmarked for green community initiatives in Michigan. The bad news? Many municipalities do not know how to find an architect, engineer, or landscape architect that is local and qualified, let alone how to appropriately craft their RFPs.

Because of this, a Brighton-based company named Michigan Resource (MiSource) has launched a resource service to connect Michigan-based companies that offer green building technologies -- including solar, wind and geothermal -- with municipalities looking to capitalize on some of the stimulus funds. The goal: keeping jobs and dollars in the state, maximizing resource allocations, and rewarding members who implement green strategies.

Founder Angela Matthews, an environmental graphic designer, was motivated to connect design professionals with one another and potential clients after seeing too many notable jobs go to out-of-state firms. "As designers and planners and engineers and manufacturers, we choose to live here," she says. "Instead of (them) flying in, planning our communities and flying away, we're the ones who live here and use it every day."

Another way of looking at it is the reduced carbon footprint that results from using a local firm. In consideration of the implementation, "How is a project green if it's flying someone in from out of state?" Matthews asks. "If we make park benches in Michigan from aluminum made in Detroit, we close the circle. Sourcing locally makes the carbon footprint much smaller."

As for anyone thinking that the talent to satisfy the demand for sustainable projects isn't here, Matthews points out that there are 330 Michigan members of the American Society of Landscape Engineers. "There is a misconception (that firms) have to be from somewhere else to be better," she says. "That's a myth we are looking to dispel -- we have amazing universities that foster so much talent."

Bottom line for MiSource, as Matthews puts it, is creating a place that "pulls (together) everyone that can implement, that is already here, and connecting them with people ready to implement."

Among the resources MiSource offers its member constituents:
· RFQ/RFP notification and distribution;
· RFQ/RFP development, drafting and assessment;
· web-based forums;
· job bank; and
· one-on-one sourcing services.

Membership in MiSource is free to municipalities and costs $275 a year for Michigan designers, engineers, and manufacturers. For more information, call 877-322-MICH (6424) or visit www.misource.org.

Source: Angela Matthews, MiSource
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Cornerstone Architects sets up office in St. Clair Shores

Another link is appearing between Detroit and Grand Rapids, now that Cornerstone Architects is expanding to Metro Detroit.

The Grand Rapids-based firm also has an office in Traverse City. It employs 13 in all of its locations, including one employee in St. Clair Shores. The plan is to grow that branch to 2-3 people within the next year.

"We're testing things out right now," says Jennifer Sutton, manager of the Detroit office for Cornerstone Architects. "Our hope is to expand and find office space here."

The 20-year-old architecture firm has a lot of experience with historic preservation projects. Rehabs on its resume include the DA Blodgett building just outside of downtown Grand Rapids.

Source: Jennifer Sutton, manager of the Detroit office for Cornerstone Architects
Writer: Jon Zemke

Northville's inFORM studio hires intern, wins AIA award

The buildings that come out of inFORM studio look like structures that would be designed by an architecture firm. They emphasize what's today (and tomorrow) with strong, innovative features that tend to make jaws drop open and the "Wow" to fall out.

"We try to approach these things with a real fresh eye," says Cory Lavigne, design director for inFORM studio. "We don't try to regurgitate things over and over again."

There is an exception to that statement, sort of. The downtown Northville-based firm took many of the dying ash trees on the land where Ann Arbor's Traverwood Library sits and used them for its structural columns, flooring, and walls. The design helped the firm win a design award from the Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

That award comes on top of growth at the transitioning firm. It started as the Van Tine Guthrie Studio in 2000 before it merged with a South Carolina firm and became inFORM studio in 2007.

It now has 11 employees in offices in Northville, Myrtle Beach and New York City. Seven of those are in Metro Detroit. The firm also recently hired a University of Michigan graduate student that had recently interned with the studio.

"It's been pretty good, all things considered," Lavigne says.

Source: Cory Lavigne, design director for inFORM studio
Writer: Jon Zemke

Damian Farrell Design plans to hire more in Ann Arbor

Damian Farrell loves entrepreneurship so much, he won't let anything get in the way of his pursuit of it.

Excerpt:

Damian Farrell wanted to become his own boss so badly he did it twice. The owner of Damian Farrell Design Group started the company in 1992, sold it after a couple of heart attacks and went to work for someone else in 2002 before restarting again last summer.

"I had always wanted to be on my own," Farrell says. "I really wanted to focus on the type of architecture that interests me."

He restarted with two full-time employees and a part-timer last July. Today the downtown Ann Arbor-based company employs five people and two independent contractors. It just hired a former intern that graduated from college and expects to hire another person within the next six months.

Read the rest of the story here.

GREEN SPACE: Greening the Heartland conference set for May 31 to June 2 in Detroit

In a short couple of weeks, one of the country's largest and most successful conferences on green initiatives is coming to Detroit for the first time. The Greening the Heartland Conference, hosted and co-sponsored by the Engineering Society of Detroit and the U.S. Green Building Council Detroit Chapter, will be held from May 31 to June 2 at Cobo Center.

One of the highlights of the conference is a keynote speech by David Suzuki, world-renowned environmental activist and science broadcaster, who will address the topic of "Economics, Energy and Ecology: Putting them Back Together." 

The conference will have four tracks:

  • Economic Revitalization
  • Public Policy & Resource Management
  • Regional Best Management Practices
  • Transportation & Technology

Its theme is "ABILITY" -- by illustrating sustainability practices that lead to multiple benefits. Industries represented will include green building, architecture, engineering, automotive, planning, landscape design, contracting, urban design, energy generation and transmission, agricultural production, interior design, building operations, and government offices.

Some of the stand-out sessions with a local angle include: "The Greenest Building Is...The One That is Already Built" (Amen!) by Quinn Evans principal Carl Elefante; "Growing Solar in Michigan: Ann Arbor's Solar America Cities Partnership" by Andre Brix of Ann Arbor's energy programs; and "Brown is the New Green" by Michael Momenee of Mannik & Smith -- a talk on brownfields opportunities.

The conference also offers attendees the chance to tour the Kresge Foundation's Platinum LEED facility and the Ford Rouge Center.

Organizers are expecting approximately 1,000 attendees.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh



Centric Design Studio turns layoffs into new business

Saundra Little, Damon Thomas, and Christopher Bruner didn't wince when they heard the word layoffs cast in their direction. Instead they used a couple of layoffs as an opportunity to start their own firm - Centric Design Studio.

The Southfield-based company actually started in 2002 as a part-time gig for the three friends while they worked away at their day jobs in architecture. They jumped into it full-time after receiving pink slips last November.

"We felt it was direction for us," says Little, COO of Centric Design Studio. "When we were both laid off at the same time, we thought this must be it."

The minority-owned start-up is composed of the three partners and four independent contractors. They specialize in sustainable architecture and green building practices. They also have a graphic design component.

The three principals are all Lawrence Technological University graduates and have a combined 21 years of experience in architecture. The company plans to fine tune its business model in its first years and then look at adding people as necessary further down the road.

Source: Saundra Little, COO of Centric Design Studio
Writer: Jon Zemke

Rizzolo Brown + Novak Architects goes for green in Ann Arbor

Green architecture is growing at Ann Arbor's Rizzolo Brown + Novack Architects.

Excerpt:

The girls behind Rizzolo Brown + Novak Architects may have started their company because of the current economy, but they see the situation as an opportunity.

Celeste Alen Novak and Connie Rizzolo Brown founded their downtown Ann Arbor-based firm last year by focusing on design that incorporates things as eclectic as art and as essential as sustainability. They now have one more employee/intern and two consultants as they continue to take on more work.

"I think things are challenging but exciting," Rizzolo Brown says. "It breeds a new ways of looking at design and energy issues and containing costs."

Read the rest of story here.

GREEN SPACE: An A2 ranch goes zero-carbon

A ranch house in the Geddes Heights area of Ann Arbor is being renovated in such a manner that its net energy usage will be equal to the amount of energy it generates via solar and geothermal production.

The Nautilus House, as it has been dubbed, is attacking the energy problem from all sides and, in so doing, a striking home is emerging.

The architect, Michael Klement of Architectural Resource and the builder, Doug Selby of Meadowlark Builders, found a creative and inspiring client in sculptor and homeowner Claudette Stern. Stern was interested in sustainability, not afraid of bold design and, in terms of cost, was willing to forego a new kitchen if it meant she could afford a more energy-efficient design.

In the expansion of the one-story north end of the home, a curvilinear roof was designed, which will accomplish many things: it maximizes the solar opportunity for the site, will aid in rainwater gathering and will act as a natural vent, instrumental in heating and cooling the home.

Other green aspects of the home will include geothermal heating and cooling; the use of structural panels and advanced framing techniques in construction, which will both minimize material usage and maximize the amount of insulation that can be used; and the reuse of materials such as windows.

The home will be Platinum LEED-certified as a remodel; the sixth in the nation and second in Michigan to be so recognized.

You might recall the first in Michigan: it was a home on Fourth Street that Selby and Klement collaborated on and that Green Space toured. Check out this article to learn more about it.

The home will be open to the public for a weekend in January for a "Behind the Drywall" tour; watch this space for details.

Source: Michael Klement, Architectural Resource
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Albert Kahn Family of Companies grows revenue and employees by 10 percent

Albert Kahn is staying synonymous with Detroit as it continues to grow in the Motor City.

Excerpt:

Albert Kahn is one of those names that is forever entwined in Detroit and the company he founded still finds success in the Motor City 113 years later.

Of the 270 employees at Albert Kahn Family of Companies, 220 of them are based out of its offices in New Center. The firm, which bills itself as a family of companies, also has operations in Alabama, Mexico and Brazil.

Read the rest of the story here.

GREEN SPACE: Building green for the rest of us

Reading an issue of Dwell or Metropolis might lead you to believe that sustainable architecture and design is the domain of the well-to-do that can afford installing a geothermal heating-and-cooling system, solar panels and dual-flush toilets. And that may be true to a degree.

But non-profit developers, architects and builders are finding ways to bring energy efficiency to low- and moderate-income housing. It all makes sense: an initial higher cost -- which can, sometimes, be offset by government and industry grants -- ultimately leads to lower utility cost over many, many years.

Seeing that rising utility costs can be the straw that breaks the elephant's back when it comes to the working class, energy efficient homes are awesome on many levels: for the environment, the stability of a neighborhood and a family's pocketbook.

Here are a few examples of such projects in Detroit proper:

There's the 38-unit Nailah Commons in Midtown, near the College for Creative Studies. Its units range from $105,000 to $135,000 and there will be a geothermal heating and cooling system. Developer Julio Bateau of Nailah LLC hopes to break ground next month.

Both Bagley Housing Association and and Greater Corktown Development Corp. have developed dozens of units of infill housing in their historic neighborhoods -- which is an urban -- and thus, sustainable -- act in itself. But both groups are kicking that commitment up a notch with their next development phases. The affordable housing will feature Energy Star appliances and have received consultation from WARM Training toward other elements of green building. Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. and Habitat for Humanity are also now incorporating Energy Star appliances into their housing.

Another cool project planned for Detroit, called Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks, proposes using stacked shipping containers to create dense urban housing with a reasonable price-tag, starting at $100,000. The units will boast tank-less water heaters and exterior paint that increases insulation by reflecting or retaining heat. The financing for this project is being assembled; read more about it here.

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh


GREEN SPACE: Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers meet Generation G

For an entire week in April, a group of 22 students at Cass Technical High School in Detroit were immersed in the minutia of sustainability. The program, dubbed Generation G by its designers and implementers, NORR LLC inspired the students to form a Generation G Society at the school in order to implement some of the concepts they learned about.

How it went down is that architects, planners and engineers from Detroit-based NORR created a curriculum complete with lessons, demonstrations, art projects and field trips. We're not talking about planting a sunflower in a cup, but rather building two varieties of green roofs, exploring green career choices and even enduring an end-of the-week test on all the stuff they learned.

The kids scored an average of 90%, so apparently info was retained.

By all accounts, the program was a smash hit. The kids formed a group, the Generation G Society, to take their learning into the coming year and already plans are being made for another week-long session next year. And NORR has already expanded the program, conducting a condensed three-day version of the program at Burton International Elementary School just last month.

But don't take my word from. Read a letter from one of the students themselves:

Dear my friendly NORR associates,
 
This is Molly Brown, a senior from Cass Tech and the appointed President of Generation G.  I wanted to give you a report on how things are going for our first ever Generation G Society! First of all, we'd really like to thank everyone again for creating an outstanding organization at our school. Things have been rather busy the last few weeks of school and therefore our first official meeting was this morning. School will be letting out very soon and teachers and students are preparing for finals. The meeting held this morning covered planning for next year. Malcolm, the vice president, and I, went over a few things we thought fit for ideas for next year, as well as, a mission statement to run by. Though NORR created a statement we still felt the need to take it into our own words to use as a device for recruiting new members. Our mission statement is as follows:
 
Generation G is an environmental design group that uses educational awareness of eco-friendly architecture, sustainability, and energy efficiency to create a greener environment for our school.
 
I am planning for next year and sending our ideas to you if you'd like to see it. I have great faith that next year will be successful and fantastic! Our green roof is doing well!  Hope to hear from you soon.
 
Sincerely,
Molly Brown


Um, sounds pretty great from where I'm sitting.

Source: Elaine Taylor, NORR
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
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