Commercial Architecture- Competitive Landscape

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Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) offers architecture, planning, and interior design services. Its core message is centered on pitching the company as a forward-thinking innovative design firm. SCB advertises job openings on its website, LinkedIn page, and other third-party job aggregator websites.

Company Overview


Social Media Usage

Hiring Channel

  • SCB advertises job openings on the career section of its website and its LinkedIn page. However, job openings in the company are also advertised on third-party job aggregators such as Indeed and Glassdoor.

Pricing Information

  • While the company does not provide pricing information on its websites, the company can be contacted through e-mail on
  • Furthermore, Krista Nestor and Ryan McBrayer are the company's directors of business development. They are committed to client service. Hence, they are likely going to provide pricing information if contacted.
  • Krista Nestor can be contacted via e-mail on and via telephone on 312.896.1250.
  • Ryan McBrayer can be reached via e-mail on and via telephone on 628.867.6180.
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Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture

Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture is an award-winning planning, interior design, and full-service architecture firm. They have over three decades of experience. Their approach is to preserve history and authenticity while infusing their unique designs.

Hartshorne Plunkard Overview

Hartshorne Plunkard's Approach

Hartshorne Plunkard's Social Media Presence

Career Opportunities at Hartshorne Plankard Architecture

  • Job opportunity/career inquiries can be found on the Contact page on the company's website
  • Any available positions, as well as directions and contact information can be found on the Contact page as well.
  • No other job postings were found on the company's LinkedIn page, AIAChicago's job board, or at any of the popular job boards such as Indeed, Monster, or ZipRecuiter.


  • The company does not provide pricing information on their website.
  • For general inquiries, including pricing, you can find contact information on the Contact page on the company's website.
  • Their email for general inquiries is

Research Strategy

In order to provide a company overview and approach, the research team used information found on Hartshorne Plunkard's company website. They also used their social media website for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to obtain social media usage and followers. After searching popular job boards such as Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, the company's LinkedIn page, and architecture job boards such as the AIAChicago job board, the research team concluded that it is likely that they do not post career opportunities to popular jobs boards. In addition, due to the fact that Hartshorne Plunkard is privately owned and prices may vary based on the project, the team was unable to find pricing information. However, they did find contact information for general inquiries.
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BKL Architects

bKL Architecture, a Chicago-based architecture firm that handles civic, education, housing, interior, mixed-use, and office architecture and planning projects, touts its projects as timeless but forward-thinking. The firm is present on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, and on job boards Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and AIA DC Job Center. In lieu of pricing information, the firm provides point persons that individuals or businesses can contact for project inquiries.

Company Overview

  • bKL Architecture, an architecture firm based in Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 2010 by Thomas Kerwin, the founding principal, who was supported at the time by James Loewenberg.
  • It has 89 employees in total — 1 founding principal, 1 managing director, 15 directors, 16 associate directors, 35 associates, and 21 studio employees.
  • The culturally diverse team works in an open studio environment that was designed to encourage the exchange of ideas.
  • bKL Architecture has one office each in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Shanghai.
  • It handles the following types of projects: civic, education, housing, interiors, mixed-use, and office.
  • On LinkedIn, it lists architecture, planning, and interior architecture as its specialties.
  • Its revenue is estimated at $14.5 million.

Marketing/Sales Approach

  • bKL Architecture touts itself as “a team of passionate designers and practitioners with expertise in a variety of markets and project types.”
  • It uses the terms ‘sophisticated’, ‘inspiring’, and ‘timeless yet forward-thinking’ to describe the spaces and structures it designs.
  • It says with confidence that the projects it designs only enhance or enrich the sites, communities, or cities in which the projects are built. It highlights that it listens to the needs of its users and clients but, at the same time, takes into account surrounding communities and potential uses and desires.
  • It highlights as well that analysis, experimentation, and collaboration all feature prominently in its process.
  • Its website is image-heavy. The homepage, for example, shows only images of the firm’s work and links to project details. For each showcased project, the firm provides the following details: year of design, year of construction, project area, consultants, contractor, materials, awards, and photographers.

Social Media Usage

Recruitment Practices

  • bKL Architecture does not have a Careers page on its website. It only notes on its Contact page that individuals seeking employment or internship may mail their cover letter, resume, and graphic work samples to Olivia Kempf at bKL Architecture LLC, 225 N. Columbus Drive Suite 100, Chicago, IL 60601. Individuals seeking internship must be full-time students seeking to work during the summer or complete co-op education requirements.
  • bKL Architecture jobs are posted on Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and the AIA DC Job Center. AIA DC stands for the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC.

Pricing Information

  • bKL Architecture does not provide any pricing information on its website. It only notes on its Contact page that, for project inquiries, the contact persons are as follows: Anne Karlovitz (Chicago), Annie Farley (Washington, DC), and Stephen Yas (Shanghai).
  • Anne Karlovitz can be contacted at or 312-881-5999. Her office is located at bKL Architecture LLC, 225 N. Columbus Drive, Suite 100, Chicago, IL 60601.
  • Annie Farley can be contacted at or 202-464-2086. Her office is located at bKL Architecture LLC, 1 Thomas Circle NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005.
  • Stephen Yas can be contacted at or 86-185-02162425. His office is located at bKL Architectural Design Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., No 388 West Nanjing Road, Room 2010, Huangpu District, Shanghai, China 200003.

Research Strategy

Since we could not locate any architecture firm named BKL Architects, we assumed that the firm of interest is actually bKL Architecture, an architecture firm based in Chicago, Illinois. To determine the required information we consulted the website and social media accounts of the firm, the press coverage of the firm, and the profile of the firm in business information and job search sites.
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Fitzgerald Associates Architecture

FitzGerald Associates Architecture is recognized both internationally and nationally for its expertise and community involvement. It caters to a very wide variety of industries and engages consumers using its website and social media channels. The company is inspiring and gives customers the opportunity to visualize what they’d like while being encouraged to be practical about it.

About Fitzgerald Associates Architecture

  • FitzGerald Associates Architecture’s headquarters is located at 912 West Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607-1707. It is a privately held company that was founded in 1919.
  • FitzGerald has 100 years’ experience in the business of architecture and designs and specializes in “Residential, Mixed-Use, Commercial, High Rise, Mid Rise, Low Rise, Single Family, Urban Planning, Existing Building Condition Assessments, Adaptive Reuse, Industrial, and Retail”.
  • Some of its clients are from national bank chains, retail, for-profit developers, not-for-profit developers and the government.
  • It currently has approximately 64 employees and earns annual revenue of $12.2 million.
  • Since 2007, FitzGerald has been the recipient of numerous awards, recognizing the company for its work. In 2017, one of its awards was CANstruction International “Best Use of Labels” Award, 1st Place — “Standing Together Against Hunger”, in 2018 they received the HBAGC Excellence in Interior Design Platinum Key Award — The Emerson, Oak Park and in 2019, FitzGerald was awarded the Friends of Downtown “Best New Building” Award — 727 West Madison.

Approach/Message used

  • FitzGerald Associates Architecture’s approach is client-focused. However, it also exudes a high level of expertise in the area.
  • The company promises customers that it’ll be practical, inspiring and methodological in carrying out its services.
  • The company highlights its experience in architecture and interior designs using images of projects it has successfully completed including high rise buildings, lounges, and bank executive offices. These are meant to give consumers a feel of what they can also achieve in working with them.
  • FitzGerald highlights its reputation in the industry coupled with awards received. These also show that the company has both national and international recognition of producing high quality work and also being involved in their communities.
  • The company speaks of itself in a friendly tone especially as it relates to getting “to know the team”.
  • It is very detailed in showcasing its expertise and also uses “Before” and “After” pictures as well as downloadable case studies to reflect this. This approach is used to gain the confidence of its new customers while keeping the already existing ones engaged.

Social media usage

  • FitzGerald has an online presence and is currently using social media channels such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The channel with the most followers is LinkedIn which is followed by Instagram and Twitter. However, posts were made more frequently on Facebook (which has the least followers) than Twitter.
  • It has 2,941 followers on its LinkedIn page and in the past few months they have made posts about various topics including their involvement in Canstruction Chicago 2019, the achievements, acknowledgment of one of their teams which comprises all females and panel discussion events that their experts participate in.
  • The company has 932 followers on its Instagram account where it showcases its designs and highlights its involvement in their various communities.
  • On Twitter, it has 477 Followers and its most recent post was made on December 20, 2019. It appears that the company does not make posts on its Twitter account very often based on the gaps between the dates of posts made, for example, prior to December 20th the previous post was made on November 18, 2019.
  • FitzGerald has 366 people following their Facebook page where their most recent post was made on December 23, 2019. Posts in the past three months were mainly about events the company took part in.

Talent recruitment

  • FitzGerald Associates Architecture advertises its job opportunities on the company’s official website, on its Careers page.
  • It uses LinkedIn as one of its channels to recruit talents and job boards such as ZipRecruiter.

Pricing/contact information

  • FitzGerald Associates Architecture’s pricing information is unpublished on its website. The company also does not provide information for its sales department but provides a general contact number through which queries can be made.
  • Their general contact number is (312) 563-9100.
  • On their leadership team, two of their principals were identified as working directly in designing, building, planning and ensuring that projects are completed within a budget. Mike Breclaw and Steve McFadden might be able to provide details as it relates to pricing information or providing direction of how to get such information.
  • Mike Breclaw can be contacted directly at (312) 563-9100 x250.
  • Steve McFadden can be contacted directly at (312) 563-9100 x217.

Research strategy

Most of the information about Fitzgerald Associates Architecture was found on its official website and social media accounts. Information about pricing is not published by the company, but we provided alternative contacts including direct lines to Principals who have worked on completing projects on tight budgets.

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Trends in Commercial Architecture

Two trends in commercial architecture include the increased importance of an environmentally-friendly design and the increase in flexible-working design.

Environmentally-friendly design

  • According to Design Studios Architects, companies are constantly seeking methods to reduce cost and minimize the harm they are causing to the environment, as well as improve their social responsibility. " Everything that uses energy needs to be more efficient, and even the positioning and design of the building matters. With all that in mind, it’s safe to say that this is a trend that is likely to stick around for a long time."
  • Brands are increasingly becoming more conscious about the significance of going green to their employees and their customers. They are now implementing this by making use of solar panels on roofs, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and recycling and recycling materials.

Flexible-working design

  • Commercial buildings had to adjust to flexible working space designs in order to meet the rise in demand for flexible workspaces. With the trend of people now preferring to work from home or divide their work week between home and office, Flexible wok design is in demand.
  • According to recent trends, people are no longer interested in working strictly outside the comfort of their homes. "The trend focuses on developing a workspace that can change to meet different needs in contrast to fixed-purpose offices that consist of a set number of rooms of a specific standardized size. Companies are constantly adapting, pivoting their services, or taking on new projects so their space must be able to work with businesses"
  • This has been included as a trend because it's been repeatedly mentioned by credible news and expert articles, such as Design Studio Architects, Medium, and Smooth Decorator as a trend in the commercial architectural space.
  • Examples of a firms leaning into this trend include Seth A. Leeb and Carlton Architecture.

Research strategy

To provide two commercial architecture trends, we leveraged sources from credible publications such as Design Studio Architects, Medium, Smooth Decorator and more. We proceeded to select the two most discussed commercial architecture topics.

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Trends in Multifamily Residential Architecture

Green building and affordability are examples of key trends that are driving the multifamily residential architecture industry. These trends are fueled by market forces such as demand for homes with sustainable features and the growing affordable housing crisis.

An Overview of Multifamily Residential Architecture

Multifamily Residential Architecture Trends for the Next Few Years

Green Building

Why Green Building Architecture is Trending in the Multifamily Residential Industry

  • According to Multi-Housing News, increased demand for homes with sustainable features and cost savings that come with green building are pushing developers to embrace sustainable construction practices.
  • This saw over 1.5 million multifamily residential units take part in the LEED certification program in 2018 and the figure was expected to rise in coming years. The prediction was validated by a 2019 LEED's report that showed that the number of LEED certified homes grew by 20%.

Company that is Leaning into Green Building

Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects [LOHA]


Why Affordable Multifamily Residential Architecture is Trending

  • According to Home for All, building affordable multifamily residential units will ease the pressure on housing crisis. One of the proposed strategies is to develop units that are tailor-made for different level income earners.
  • HUD User project that by 2030, the demand for new multifamily residential homes will hit 4.6 million owing to population growth. One factor that will be crucial in meeting this demand is the affordability of the multifamily residential units.

Company that is Leaning into Affordable Multifamily Residential Architecture

Kwan Henm

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Trends in Urban Planning

Two trends in urban planning include sustainability and smart cities. Sustainability has been fueled by population growth and high urbanization rates. Conversely, smart cities are being developed to improve service delivery and make cities more livable.


  • Sustainability in urban planning is evident through the increased number of living buildings and the use of environmentally-friendly materials in construction.
  • Living buildings are becoming common in the United States. These are structures that produce the energy they use through on-site sources.
  • Sustainability in urban planning has also resulted in the use of sustainable materials, water conservation, and HVAC systems. In addition, planning is being done with climate change and natural disasters in mind.
  • Furthermore, sustainability is being integrated with technology. A case in point is the development of intelligent buildings that can reduce energy costs and monitor resource consumption.
  • Sustainability has been driven by urbanization, a growing population, and climate change.
  • An example of a company that is embracing sustainability in its practices is Urban Collaborative.

Smart Cities

  • Cities are becoming increasingly smart and characterized by factors, such as digitally connected transportation, the use of LCDs instead of billboards, and intelligent buildings.
  • Urban planners are finding ways of using new technologies in their projects. The use of these technologies can result in resilient infrastructure and a reduced carbon footprint.
  • In addition, automation is being used in urban planning. The advantages of automation include better security, transportation, and disaster response.
  • The development of smart cities is being fueled by the need to develop more affordable and efficient cities that are livable and have better delivery of public services.
  • Smart cities have the potential to improve access to city services, increase public engagement, and positively contribute to economic growth.
  • An example of a firm that is leading the trend of smart cities is CityFi.

From Part 02
  • "In collaborative partnership with our clients, our creative team develops inspired and timeless architecture that responds to the unique attributes of each project. On our engagements, we undertake rigorous study of a place and its history, patterns, and strengths in order to develop design ideas that infused into our buildings, making them feel like they belong and are authentic to their space. "
  • "We practice from the Fulton Market District, a historic neighborhood of walled buildings. "
  • "Our early years spent designing loft conversions in the neighborhood helped hone our expertise in the restoration and adaptive reuse of historic structures. With more than 30 projects under our belt in this neighborhood alone, our vision for creating places that matter out of buildings that were forgotten has proved its value."
  • "For the last 31 years, HPA has been distinguished by the range and variety of projects accomplished that share a common sensibility toward placemaking. Their award-winning projects range from complex building rehabilitation of desolate landmarked structures to compelling new developments that are setting the bar for sustainability and marketplace success."
From Part 04
From Part 05
  • "Environmentally-friendly design Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and decreasing the damage they are doing to the environment, as well as increasing their social responsibility. Brands are now more aware than ever about how much going ‘green’ matters to their employees and their customers and incorporate this by using solar panels on roofs, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and recycling and recycling materials. Flexible-working design Commercial buildings have had to adapt how they function because flexible working is on the rise; many people work from home or split their working week between their home and the office. Gone are the days of having your very own desk, and it is hot-desking that is now more popular. Hot desking means that anyone can use any available desk at different periods of time. It’s easier if you have many employees that work from home and in the office. Prioritising the experience of employees Businesses are incorporating diverse elements from the hotel and hospitality industry to integrate experience-driven spaces into the workplace. This is all to prioritise wellness, enjoyment of the workplace and is all part of your brand. These elements speak to your company’s culture and can include things like massage therapy, rock climbing walls, game rooms, and yoga studios."
  • "Prioritizing the employee experience Eco-friendly design"
  • "Johnston Design Group commercial"
  • "Seth A. Leeb offers full-service solutions for commercial building design projects in the New Jersey area. With 20 years of experience in the commercial architecture industry in restaurant, hospitality, office, and dental office design, we can provide the expertise, skills and innovative thinking you need to create a workplace that fits your vision and embodies your brand. "
  • "providing employees with the option to work remotely is an employee benefit that has become so commonplace that 87% of architecture firms offered it to their full-time employees in some capacity in 2018. This is largely regardless of firm size, with 78% of small firms reporting that they offered remote work in 2018, and 97% of large firms reporting the same. The largest share of firms, more than two-thirds overall, offered remote work on an ad hoc basis. In contrast, just 13% of firms offer full-time, or nearly full-time, remote work, with more than one-quarter of large firms offering this type of remote work, versus just 4% of small firms that offer the same. Average total compensation across all architectural staff positions averaged in excess of $92,000 at the beginning of 2019, up more than 6% per year from early 2017 levels, according to the recently released 2019 AIA Compensation Report. "
From Part 06