Category Archives: A/E Team

HFA Architects and Engineers Celebrate 25 Years

Identifies 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design


The architectural and engineering firm based in Bentonville, Arkansas reached a major milestone unachieved by most firms, 25 years in business. In recognition, the staff developed ideas of ways to impact the world through design.

Founded by architect Harrison French, the one person firm has grown to over 170 employees serving nationally recognized clients throughout the United States and is positioned to begin working internationally. The fully integrated, multi-disciplined firm has been recognized among the fastest growing firms for the past six years, by Zweig Group, a national architectural and engineering industry consulting firm.  Based upon the number of licensed professionals, HFA was recently recognized as the largest architectural and engineering firm in Arkansas. The growing Bentonville firm has an office in Houston, Texas and staff in Dallas, Texas.

“This anniversary would not have been possible without the hard work of a lot of talented professionals and great clients.” said Harrison French, AIA, Principal / CEO,  “I’m even more excited about our future as we continue to challenge ourselves and develop our skills even further.”

In celebration of their achievement, HFA hosted an event on May 7th in their newly renovated headquarters office which was transformed from a vacant home improvement retail store. The beautifully designed studio was awarded LEED CI Gold certification for its utilization of sustainable design and energy saving systems.

In recognition of their 25 year achievement, the HFA staff launched 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design initiative.  This thought provoking initiative asked our staff members to identify a design idea that can be used in our daily lives and the impact that design can have upon the world.  There were 89 entries submitted by our staff of which the 25 where chosen by the staff to represent our 25 years in business.  At our May 7th anniversary celebration, the top three design ideas were selected by a vote of the attending guests.

“This has been a very fun design challenge and we were excited to see that there were so many innovative ideas created by our staff.   The design ideas really tell the story that our staff is not only very creative, but that they are truly caring people who really want to help the world become a better and more meaningful place to enjoy.” said Larry Lott, AIA, President and COO.

About HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is a multi-disciplinary design firm providing Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Landscape design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets throughout the U.S. and holds professional licenses in all 50 states; and the District of Columbia. Please visit us at

Press Release: HFA named as the largest A/E Firm in Arkansas

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (Feb. 16, 2015) – HFA has been named as the largest A&E (Architecture and Engineering) firm in the state of Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recently released a list ranking firms by the number of employees working in Arkansas. With 150 staff members in January 2015, HFA was the largest firm on the list.

Additionally, The Arkansas Business Journal recently released their list of the largest architectural and engineering firms in the state, ranking firms by the number of licensed architects and engineers working in Arkansas.  With sixteen licensed architects and fourteen licensed engineers, HFA was named the third largest architectural firm and the ninth largest engineering firm.

“We are excited by our recent growth as we continue to follow and further develop our strategic growth plan.  We are actively seeking more talented individuals to join our team, and have added ten staff members since the time of the ranking.” said Larry Lott, president/COO.

Overall, HFA has been the largest employer of A&E staff working in the state of Arkansas over the past three years.

What does it mean to be integrated?

Chris HortonBy Chris Horton, Vice President & CFO

In my previous article, I discussed the reasons for hiring an Architect/Engineer for your projects.  One of the items I didn’t list was the benefits you gain from hiring an integrated team.

Firms will tell you that they function as an integrated team because they have all disciplines under one roof, but experience has shown that what usually ends up happening is each discipline is treated like an outside consultant, never talking to each other except through email.

Firms that have embraced the concept of integrating the disciplines provide a more cohesive project with fewer drawing inconsistencies.  Notice I didn’t use the word “no” here.  As long as human beings are involved with design, there are going to be inconsistencies, period.  What integrating the team accomplishes is that those inconsistencies are generally small inconsistencies.  You typically don’t have the big busts that occur like routing ductwork through structural beams because the MEP Engineer didn’t have access to the structural plans.

When a project is completed by a cohesive team, the client gets a set of project documents that are very tight and that in turn allows for bids to be tight.  When the bids are tight, you truly start hiring contractors based on qualifications, not pricing.

Another benefits of a good set of documents is that it’s easy to identify the outliers.  All too often contractors will underbid projects in order to get the work and then the change orders start coming.  With a good set of documents, the good contractors will basically clump together somewhere in the middle.  The guys that are too busy for the work will price it high and the ones that you don’t want to work with will be at the bottom.  Makes it a whole lot easier to pick a good contractor when they are all hanging in the same area in the way of fees.

The next time you are shopping for A/E services, ask a few questions.  What questions?  Well that will come in my next article.

Why Hire an A/E Firm for your projects?

Chris HortonBy Chris Horton, Vice President & CFO

When searching for reasons to hire architects and engineers, almost all resources target individuals wanting to build their dream home.  While architecture/engineering certainly has an important role in the home building industry, resources on why to use them for commercial projects are almost nonexistent.  So why should you hire an A/E team to build your next building, store, office, or factory? 

Many of these reasons are applicable to both areas of the industry:

  • Architects and Engineers are licensed by the State as Professionals – This is a very important point! As Architects and Engineers, we take an oath to safeguard life, health and property and to promote the public welfare.  It is our job to make sure that anything built conforms to acceptable standards.  The last thing you want is a building that isn’t safe.
  • Architects and Engineers save you money – have you ever started out thinking something won’t take long only to have the project hang around for what seems like an eternity? Have you ever cut that board twice and it’s still too short?   Architects and Engineers are trained to plan.  A good detailed plan will always trump something that’s thrown together.  As the old saying goes…..time is money.

Beyond these universal reasons, there’s quite a few reasons to hire architects and engineers for your commercial project:

  • A/E firms are experienced in working in local jurisdictions and can help you navigate the processes of entitlements, building reviews, etc. If that firm is nationally based, they are accustomed to working in multiple jurisdictions across the country and bring a deeper bench of understanding those requirements.
  • When considered and treated as partners, A/E firms bring a level of ownership to the projects that goes beyond performing tasks for their clients. These partnerships must be a win for both owner and firm, otherwise all you’ve accomplished is making a bad reputation for yourself.  A reputation that eventually catches up with you.

There seems to be a trend that A/E firms are becoming a commodity because clients simply want building permits and know that they need stamped drawings to get them.  This will eventually drive good A/E firms to take a different route and become competitors as opposed to partners.