In a move that brings full-service planning expertise to its already well-established architecture practice, Lord, Aeck & Sargent (LAS) has merged with Urban Collage (UC), one of the largest urban and campus planning and design firms in the Southeast. Combining these firms’ talents was made official today. UC plans to retain its name for the foreseeable future.
The merger adds a fifth geographic office for LAS, since UC, in addition to its Atlanta headquarters office, operates a Lexington, Kentucky, office. Beyond its Atlanta office, LAS operates from offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “We welcome the opportunity to enhance our design and planning services for our clients, such as the University of Cincinnati and the University of Louisville, from a closer location,” said Joe Greco, LAS president.
“Urban Collage’s urban design and campus planning expertise will be infused across all of LAS’ practice areas, which include multifamily housing and mixed-use, higher education, science and technology, and historic preservation ” Greco said. “And Urban Collage’s capabilities also will benefit many of our clients, including private developers, corporations and institutions of higher learning as well as federal, state, county and municipal governments. This is a great combination of talent that will benefit our entire firm and will be an invaluable resource for our clients.”
Greco added that the two firms have been collaborating on projects for more than a decade, and their cultural compatibility has been tested. “The merger is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing with UC for quite some time; we know and trust one another,” he said.
Added LAS chairman Tony Aeck, “The merger is representative of our growth strategy. Although LAS’ growth is primarily organic, it has also come over the last decade from mergers similar to this one.
“Many clients desire to focus on their core missions and are seeking out design firms with broader capabilities to help them plan strategically and then design their buildings,” Aeck noted.
UC principals Bob Begle and Stan Harvey, who are co-founders of the firm, retain their titles of principal after merging with LAS. UC’s Atlanta office, headed by Begle, will keep its downtown location just minutes from LAS’ midtown office. Harvey heads the Lexington office.
“We’ve long admired the design reputation and culture of LAS,” Harvey said. “Urban Collage does only master planning. So being part of the full-service, merged firm is an opportunity for us to see our projects through from conception to completion.”
Added UC’s Begle, “The mergers in our industry are usually ones in which one very large firm buys a smaller one that does the same kind of work in order to gain more operational efficiencies. Our merger with LAS is not that at all. Because our firms do related yet different things, the merged whole will be significantly greater than the sum of its parts. It’s about adding value, design and planning synergies and creating a truly one-stop operation from which our clients will benefit.”
UC’s original roots grew from managing the City of Atlanta’s Olympics Public Improvements Program, for which the firm handled the master planning for Atlanta’s 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. UC also collaborated with another firm on the original redevelopment plan for The Atlanta BeltLine, a wide-ranging urban redevelopment and mobility project that is providing a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit by re-using 22 miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown and connecting 45 neighborhoods directly to each other. Urban Collage is currently part of the Planning and Design Team for the Multi Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) in downtown Atlanta. With a long history of working with downtown interests, adjacent intown neighborhoods, and state-wide municipalities, Urban Collage is managing the public outreach efforts for this complex urban initiative.
In Kentucky, UC is currently serving as master planner for downtown Lexington’s Rupp Arena, Arts & Entertainment District, billed as “the future of downtown Lexington.” Some additional Kentucky projects include: a plan for a new 65-acre campus for Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington; a plan for the Red Mile mixed-use development near Lexington’s Red Mile horse racing track; a Lexington Distillery District plan that calls for revitalization of many of the District’s interesting and historic buildings as well as residential, commercial and mixed-use infill development; a master plan for Gateway Community and Tech College’s new Urban Campus in downtown Covington; a plan for continued improvement of the Westport Road Corridor in eastern Louisville; and design guidelines for the South Fourth Street Corridor, one of Louisville’s most intact historic places. The guidelines lay out a framework for current and future retail improvements and encourage retailers to maintain historic continuity while allowing creative solutions for storefronts and other architectural features to occur.
About Lord, Aeck & Sargent
Lord, Aeck & Sargent is an award-winning architectural and planning firm serving clients in academic, historic preservation, scientific, arts and cultural, and multi-family housing and mixed-use markets. The firm’s core values are responsive design, technological expertise and exceptional service. The firm is listed as 28th in Architect, the Magazine of the American Institute of Architects’ annual “Architect 50” ranking of U.S. architecture firms. The ranking is based on business, sustainability and design excellence/pro bono. In 2007, Lord, Aeck & Sargent was one of the first architecture firms to adopt The 2030 Challenge, an initiative whose ultimate goal is the design of carbon-neutral buildings, or buildings that use no fossil-fuel greenhouse gas-emitting energy to operate, by the year 2030. Lord, Aeck & Sargent has offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky. For more information, visit the firm at www.lordaecksargent.com.
About Urban Collage
Urban Collage focuses on the design of walkable, livable urban communities. UC approaches the built environment of each community as a “collage” of its unique people, politics and place. UC believes in the principles of good urbanism – diversity, connectivity and sustainability. UC, with offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Lexington, Kentucky, has completed work in 14 states and is recognized nationally for its work. For more information, visit www.urbancollage.com.