Over the Thanksgiving weekend in 1965, two local architects and an engineer set forth to create their own vision of a design firm. With a decade of professional experience, Irv Dana, Bill Larson and Jim Roubal launched DLR Group with the idea of creating a firm grounded in shared ideals of quality, fairness, opportunity for professional growth and ownership. DLR Group opened in Omaha, Neb., on April 1, 1966. This year, the 750-person firm marks its 50th birthday.
“At DLR Group there is so much opportunity for personal and professional growth,” said DLR Group CEO Griff Davenport, who joined the firm in 1980. “Sometimes it dangles itself in front of you and sometimes you have to go looking for it. But it’s always been here, and the opportunity for employee-owners to positively impact the success of the firm continues today.”
Opened in 1994, DLR Group’s Overland Park office now employs 76 design professionals. On May 5, the office will host an open house reception for clients, current and former staff and business partners. It will also close its doors this summer for a DLR Group Day of Giving, in which associates will provide a day of volunteer service at the 16th District Court of Jackson County. On that day, the design professionals will lend their talents to renovate the waiting room of the Family Court to provide a more welcoming area for users.
DLR Group’s website will showcase its detailed history with a historical project gallery documenting the firm’s work from 1996 to today. Each week, a new set of projects will be shared. Check out the website here or visit the firm’s social media channels.
Local examples of DLR Group’s signature design work include the Kansas Speedway, the Overland Park Sheraton and Convention Center, and the Johnson County Community College Culinary Center.
Dana, Larson and Roubal envisioned that the future of building delivery would be through an integrated design approach. In 2012, the firm’s effort was rewarded when ARCHITECT Magazine named DLR Group the number 1 firm on its annual top 50 ranking. Today, DLR Group serves clients through the integrated delivery of planning, architecture, engineering, interiors, and building optimization for new construction, renovation, and adaptive reuse. Core areas of design expertise include Civic, Courts, Detention, Energy Services, Healthcare, Higher Education, Hospitality, K-12 Education, Retail, Sports, and Workplace.
Sustainability has also been inherent in DLR Group’s design process, from early applications of solar hot water and geothermal systems through the development of LEED.
DLR Group attributes its growth over the past 50 years to its people. That’s why Dana, Larson and Roubel from the outset shared the company’s profits with its employees. Employee-ownership today remains a foundational element of the firm. In 1978, DLR Group executed its first Employee Stock Ownership Plan with employees gaining an ownership stake. In 2005, the firm became a 100 percent employee-owned firm.
DLR Group asserts that employee ownership creates a unique practice and leadership structure; That’s why the firm does not feature a centralized headquarters, but instead, the firm’s executive team resides in six offices. The firm’s design and market sector leaders are dispersed throughout its 24 global locations.