GBA Celebrates 50 “Remarkable” Years

This month Lenexa-based GBA turns 50 and has much to celebrate including steady growth, embracing change and providing remarkable solutions in the architecture/engineering industry for half a century.

Founded by civil engineer George Butler in 1969, the firm George E. Butler & Associates, Inc. began with just ten employees in a small office on the sixth floor of a downtown Kansas City office. Today, GBA and its subsidiaries employ a staff of 275 in seven states.

“It’s something that I never dreamed I’d get to see but I’m really honored that the firm has done so well, and most of that’s happened since I left [laughs].……,” recalls the founder and CEO Butler in GBA’s commemorative 50th anniversary video.

The firm quickly made its mark on the KC metro community with one of their first projects, the Jackson County Sports Complex, later named the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex. The firm was responsible for the civil engineering design and all site work surrounding the stadiums, which included the design of parking lots, roadways and utilities. This was no small feat at the time, considering that this was the first, two-stadium sports complex in existence. 

In 1970, Butler’s lifelong friend George Saller joined as a principal of the firm, quickly broadening the firm’s services with his extensive mechanical and electrical engineering experience. Water environment, mechanical, electrical and plumbing services were added to the company in the 1970s.

Now in the midst of implementing a five-year strategic plan, the GBA team is focused on technology and innovation to meet the ever-changing needs in delivering transportation, environmental, building and development projects.

“During my career at GBA, change has been constant; we’ve embraced new technology and adapted our services to meet the needs of our clients and communities,” said GBA President/CEO Tim Ross. “As we continue to grow, one thing that won’t change is our commitment to creating remarkable solutions for our clients.”

GBA is headquartered in Lenexa, Kansas, in the Renner Ridge Corporate Center, where the firm provided planning, building design, site development and surveying. The firm has regional offices in Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas and Illinois. 

With $31M bond sale, Paragon Star developers prepare to kick into high gear

With $31M bond sale, Paragon Star developers prepare to kick into high gear

Paragon Star rendering courtesy of Finkle + Williams.

ULI 2017 Developments of Distinction: Excelsior Springs Community Center

The Excelsior Springs Community Center is a $15 million project that has received industry attention for its successful adaptation of a former school site with various elevations and challenges.

“This is something the community had been calling for for 25 or more years. There was a huge need in the community for this facility, so we felt we had a really awesome opportunity to make a huge impact,” said Kerry Newman, principal of SFS Architecture.

One of the project’s challenges included building the facility on a site with a significant slope. A significant amount of earth work wasn’t feasible, according to SFS Associate Brian Garvey, so the design team came up with a concept that included a central ramp "spine" linking various spaces within the campus.

“The ramp links the spaces together and makes it more likely (for guests) to take the ramp and sometimes unknowingly get a little more exercise,” Garvey said.

The project also required public input and voter approval.

“I think was a huge challenge early on that there needed to be consensus to pass the tax that funded the center,” Newman said. “Merging that with business planning to make sure it would work financially for city... all those things had to be legitimized going into the referendum and the community had to believe in the work.”

The Excelsior Springs Community Center had a goal of 1,000 members in the first year, but membership blew past that in the first few months.

“It’s been very successful and a big economic impact to the community," Newman said. "Just delivering everything the community needed and maximizing the value of everything that would be there by making it exciting and multigenerational, with diverse user groups, and then bringing all those things together on an existing school campus.... I think it was a challenge and we succeeded.” 

Brittany Probst, facility supervisor, said the center is changing lives for its more than 2,000 members.

“There is a fitness aspect of it which is what people associate with a community center, but there’s also a social aspect to it,” Probst said. “Families who (previously) went home and watched TV all night, and that was their social time together, now they’re coming here and swimming as a family or playing pickle ball and basketball as a family, so it’s gratifying to hear every time someone says, ‘This facility has changed my life,’  because that’s why we are here.”

Project partners include: City of Excelsior Springs, developer; SFS Architecture, architecture services; Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, architecture services; Crossland Construction, general contractor; Water Technology, Inc., engineering services; Henderson Engineers, engineering services; GBA, engineering services; SK Design Group, engineering services; Confluence, landscape architecture, Ballard*King & Associates, consulting services.