Category Archives: Architecture

HFA named among ‘Best Firms to Work For’ for second year in a row

HFA engineers

HFA was named among the “Best Firms to Work For” by the Zweig Group for the second year in a row.

BENTONVILLE (June 28, 2016) HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is named once again to the list of “Best Firms to Work For” by the Zweig Group.

This is the second year in a row HFA has been named to the list. Last year, HFA was ranked 52 nationwide in the Multidiscipline category. This year, HFA moved up 10 spots to 42 in the same category.

The award recognizes top architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, environmental and multidiscipline firms in the United States and Canada based on workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates and more, according to the Zweig Group website. The criteria also include a satisfaction survey from employees.

“We are very proud to be recognized again as one of the Best Firms to Work For,” said Larry Lott, AIA, President and COO of HFA. “It’s a true reflection of the quality of employees that we have, who all contribute to providing us with a very welcoming work environment.”

The award will be conferred this year at the Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference on Sept. 23 in Phoenix.

The award comes within weeks of HFA being honored with a 2016 When Work Works Award for its use of effective workplace strategies to increase business and employee success. HFA was one of only three firms – and by far the largest – in Arkansas to be recognized with this prestigious award. The When Work Works Award is part of a national project administered by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The When Work Works Award recognizes employers of all sizes and types in Arkansas and across the country.

About HFA

HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French Architecture in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi-disciplinary design firm with more than 200 employees and additional offices in Boston, MA, and Fort Worth, TX. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Mexico. Please visit us at http://www.hfa-ae.com for more information, and follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @HFA_AE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/HFAAEHome/.

Contact: Melissa L.  Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273−7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa−ae.com.

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Upcycling: DIY trends finding home in shopping center design

Looking for innovative ideas to dress up a retail storefront or breathe new life into your existing retail portfolio? Upcycling is one unique way to help your retail property stay relevant and attract the next generation of shoppers. Below, Senior Associate Jenna Stacer-Miccile of HFA|Allevato discusses this new design trend that is gaining a foothold in the retail sector.

Upcycling is a design trend commonly being used in the residential DIY sector and has recently begun to influence retail and food service industries.  Defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “to recycle (something) in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item,” upcycling is a cost-effective way in which developers can re-up their portfolios. Savvy designers, operators, and developers have started to successfully utilize this tool to revitalize existing centers and create inviting and re-energized spaces that enhance the shoppers’ experience.

Rejuvenate and find new life for your existing shopping center.

While I admit that we all get excited at the idea of a new ground-up shopping center and the blank slate of possibilities it brings, I find that I get almost as excited when visiting an older shopping center that needs some updating.  A friend and client of ours sarcastically refers to such an approach as ‘putting lipstick on a pig.’  While not the most gracious of phrases, sometimes that is exactly what a center needs to make it relevant and attractive to shoppers again. (Of course, there may be cases where the bulldozer is the best option, but those are few and far between.)  There are clients out there looking at options to improve upon their existing property portfolio’s performance.  Some properties may require elaborate structural updates and construction hurdles to breathe new life into these existing centers, while others may need a little less effort and more finesse – a simple but innovative solution.

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Liven up existing facades with unique materials.

Whether it’s a new retail and mixed-use development or renovating an existing center, designers, operators, and developers are beginning to understand the importance of a dynamic shopping experience.  On some recent projects we have looked at how to do this without breaking the bank. We investigated innovative solutions like finding new uses for reclaimed barn boards, wood pallets, and scrap metal as façade materials.

Plantings are another way to enliven an existing location. One inventive use for plants is to dress the roofline/parapet space with a line of greenery; this brings a fresh, natural element to the building architectural form. Alternatively, vertical green screens can be added to break up a large wall. Large CMU walls may benefit from a coat of paint and a large graphic mural or a stamped logo. That pesky hollow metal door set in a large brick wall could use a bright pop of blue paint instead of trying to monochromatically paint it out to disappear entirely. The possibilities for enlivening an existing façade are limited only by the designer’s imagination.photo 2

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Never underestimate the power of a carefully staged sidewalk.

Current trends at Terrain by Anthropologie and West Elm stores are a great place to look for inspiration when it comes to developing the sidewalk design. A sidewalk should no longer be a 15’ wide swath of concrete. Adding pavers and in-ground planters is a start, but that will not be enough to make your shoppers feel at home and want to hang around and shop.  Now, add some hanging plants, Adirondack chairs, garden sculptures, tree stump bench seating and other items you might think to use in your own garden to liven up the experience. Bringing in unique pieces and using diverse materials is a great way to bring warmth and life to a sidewalk.

One example of such an approach would be to wrap an existing CMU sidewalk planter in reclaimed wood and add a sculpture found at an antique shop in among the plantings – a simple touch, but a beautiful way to add texture, interest, and ambiance.  We also love to introduce pergola elements along the sidewalk just to create a moment to pause and enjoy the environment, and work up the energy to continue on shopping.

We are seeing and using some of these principles in some current shopping center rehab projects, tenant façade designs, and new ground-up retail construction projects.  The possibilities are limitless to a creative mind with a vision to see the potential a retail center has to become a great place to be.

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Stay tuned for future posts discussing the benefits of upcycling as a design tool in the restaurant and food & beverage design sectors.

HFA intern architect helps dedicate Little Free Library project

HFA's Little Free Library design

Matt Turner of HFA dedicates the Little Free Library he helped design on South School Avenue in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE (May 11, 2016) — HFA teamed up with the Ozark Literacy Council earlier this month to dedicate the latest installation in the council’s Little Free Library program.

The newest Little Free Library is the design of HFA’s own Intern Architect Matt Turner, along with former HFA Intern Architect Esteban Ayala.

Their design, “Pequeña Biblioteca,” took second place in the Ozark Literacy Council’s contest for Little Free Library designs.

Sponsored by Dick and Margaret Rutherford, the library’s design includes hidden benches that slide out, allowing users to sit and enjoy a book on the spot. The vertical wooden fins are made to resemble the pages of a book, and the UV-resistant acrylic container protects books from the elements, including the sun’s rays.

The new library is located at 831 S. School Ave. next to the Frisco Trail, and between Archetype Productions and the El Camino Real restaurant. The library is part of the Ozark Literacy Council’s program born in 2009 to provide little libraries throughout the area, with a “take a book, return a book” approach. HFA is proud to be one of the designers associated with the project.

About HFA

HFA began 25 years ago as Harrison French & Associates in Bentonville by Harrison French and has grown to a multi-disciplinary A/E design firm with more than 200 employees. HFA provides Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering and Landscape Design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets nationwide. The firm has participated in projects nationwide and holds professional licenses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Please visit us at http://hfa-ae.com for more information.

Contact: Melissa Jones, Media and Communications Coordinator, (479) 273-7780 ext. 397 or melissa.jones@hfa-ae.com.

Engineering a Meaningful Place

We sat down with A/E Firm HFA to ask about the importance of integrating engineering into a good architectural design.

Q: What is the role of engineering when designing a new space?

A: The architect creates the space with the needs of the client in mind, while it’s the challenge of the engineer to make the space functional, comfortable and safe. One of the engineer’s main goals is to design the most optimal use of the space.

“Successful design integrates architecture and engineering into a holistic space.”

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Q: What’s the biggest advantage of HFA being an integrated A/E Firm?

A: Communication. The HFA design team all work in the communication to stimulate creative design solutions. Truly integrating an A/E firm is like designing a good space, you have to understand how the disciplines work together to create the holistic experience for the end-user. In this scenario, our clients are the end-user.

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Q: How does that integration help in creating meaningful places?

A: Any designer can create a space, but great spaces happen when architects and engineers are working together to optimize it for the human experience. That’s the end goal of any project. Good space design is about the way it makes you feel when you experience it, and we want to create a meaningful place for all to enjoy!

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HFA Ranked Top 5 by Architectural Record

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Architectural Record has ranked HFA the 5th top design firm in the nation for the Retail Market.

As a full service architecture and engineering firm, HFA continues to be a leader in Retail Store design across the United States.

 

Designing for the Customer Experience

We were interviewed about the impact of design on retail. Here’s what we had to say:

Q: Retail brands work tireless hours defining their image, how do you encompass their image into the space you’re creating?

A: For us it’s about a deep connection with the client. We first try to understand their business philosophy. We want to know why they’re in business. Then we immerse ourselves into their brand, so we can become the customer. The goal is to design a space that works for the end-user — their customer.

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Q: Creative Solutions, Meaningful Place.. What does that mean? And why did you choose it as your mission?

“The goal is to design a space that works for the end-user”

A: It means we aren’t just in business to design buildings. We want to create spaces that touch your heart and to experience the space in a meaningful way. We chose it because that’s how we want our team members to design and feel.

Q: Retail brands these days like to roll-out full remodels, how do you manage those projects?

A: The key is understanding the client and their customers. Once we fully understand their program, we use the techniques learned in our 25 years of retail to efficiently design every store, whether it’s 5 stores or 500.

View HFA website

Here’s the original article as published in Commercial Construction & Renovation Magazine:

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HFA Architects and Engineers Celebrate 25 Years

Identifies 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design

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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 http://hfa-ae.com/.

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.

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.