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Winter 2010

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QPK Design Embracing the Consistency of Change

THE MAGAZINE FOR CONSTRUCTION EXECUTIVES


QPK Design significantly involved with the real estate development arena and academic institutions. An Open Environment

Embracing the Consistency of Change Produced by Chuck McKenna & Written by Kellie Ducharme

Fifty-one years ago, Jack Quinlivan and Pete Pierik formed a modest architectural partnership to codesign a small school expansion project. Shortly after the school project completed, Al Krause joined the partnership and the three formed Quinlivan, Pierik & Krause (QPK Design), thus beginning a legacy of service-based design. The once-small firm budded from that first job, and has been recently rated by a national design ancd construction publication as a top 60 architectural practice. The firm had 25 employees by 1978, and experienced steady growth until the early 1990s, when it peaked at 82 employees, a number it’s hovered around ever since. “We made a conscious decision when the second generation ownership took over that, instead of focusing on growth, we focus on capabilities and competence,” explains David McNeil, American Institute of Architects, a current partner who joined QPK Design in the late ’70s as a project architect. McNeil helped buy the last founding partner out in 1992, becoming instrumental in the firm’s further development. “Our target is not physical growth, so much as professional growth and service,” he states. 2|

US Developers Journal

Winter Edition 2010

Unlike many firms, QPK Design’s second generation of leadership has decided to not specialize in a particular design style, client or facility type. Instead, the company offers a wide variety of services and design capabilities in a number of different markets, keeping the company diversified so it can weather fluctuations of the economy while supporting the broad range of its client base. “We do not have a single niche, we have a number of areas where we excel all developed through past experience and partner interests, and it’s given us opportunities in market sectors that would not be available to us if we had overly specialized,” says McNeil, adding that the firm does have three consistent markets: real estate development, public and institutional facilities. McNeil cites QPK Design’s recent projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a series of government contracts that has accounted for about 40 percent of the firm’s revenue stream for the past three years. Before 2007, the firm’s work load was not as heavily weighted with federal design work, he explains, adding that three years ago QPK was more

Eugenia Brieva, AIA, a LEEDcertified architect and fellow QPK Design partner, says that the firms’ varied portfolio “reflects the diversity of the staff.” Brieva is from Chile, and has practiced architecture in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. The working environment at QPK is casual but focused, according to Brieva and McNeil, who add that their doors are always open to staffers. Each week, teams meet to discuss current projects and determine the best ways to go forward. No partner owns a majority of the business, so decisions always come from a well thought-out consensus among the firm’s seven architectural partners, who actively solicit the input of their staff. “Organizationally, I would consider us more horizontal than vertical,” explains McNeil. “This allows us to provide our clients the attention of a small office, while maintaining the capabilities of a good sized firm.” Always Changing, Always Improving “You have to really embrace the concept of being always willing to change and explore new things, because otherwise you may lose your edge and value to your clients,” explains McNeil. “This can put you out of your comfort zone, but that helps you grow and become a better professional.”

Many architecture firms of QPK’s age may get stuck in the design and delivery approaches of the “past generation,” but QPK Design is continually exploring new design and technologies in order to stay current in its practice and appeal to an everevolving marketplace. The firm does not limit itself to a single design aesthetic, approach or philosophy. It will accommodate the needs of a particular client or project program and is experienced serving many types, styles and delivery processes of architecture. |3


QPK Design McNeil adds, “The only sure thing in any business is change. Relationships are subject to change, people and organizations change all the time, so, as relationships evolve, we need to evolve as well.”

The firm enjoys complex projects that are challenging in nature. Recently, the firm finished design of a technically complicated, highly integrated, phased addition and renovation for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y. Projects and People This project was especially challenging because the firm had to accommodate construction work that QPK prefers to focus on customers who may become needed to be accomplished at a highly restricted long-term clients, bringing the firm multiple project site in a hospital complex with on-going operations. opportunities over time, though single, unique The medical center addition houses new operating projects are welcome challenges, too. “It can take suites and a spinal cord injuries center, one of only such a long time to develop solid relationships, and four in the Veterans Affairs system nationally. to do so for a one-time opportunity can expend more energy that it can be worth,” Brieva explains. On the other end of the spectrum, and as an example “But interesting work is always considered.” The of its diversity, QPK has recent experience in gothic, firm’s track record is an overwhelming majority of campus architecture. New York’s Elmira College is repeat business, which proves QPK’s professional building a new dormitory complex to compliment but approachable way of conducting its practice is the historic campus in an academic gothic style - a attractive to experienced clientele. QPK design that includes stylistic finishes such as stone gargoyles and tracery windows.

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QPK Design

A wide-ranging portfolio, service-based philosophy and close-knit, talented staff suggest QPK is destined to experience much more success and experience many more challenging projects in its sixth decade of business.•

COMPANY AT A GLANCE Established : 1959 Partner : David McNeil

www.qpkdesign.com

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Winter Edition 2010

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QPK Design

4 5 0 S o u t h S a l i n a S t r e e t, R m . 5 0 0 Syracuse, NY 13202 U n i t e d S tat e s w w w. q p k d e s i g n. c o m Winter 2009

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