Better Together: LPA to Merge with San Antonio’s OCO Architects
(IRVINE, Calif.) June 20, 2014 — LPA Inc. is excited to announce its fifth location – San Antonio – and the merger with OCO Architects that makes it possible. As of July 1, 2014, LPA, one of the largest architecture, engineering, interior design and landscape architecture firms in California, will join with OCO Architects, a 22-person firm located in downtown San Antonio, to expand its drive toward successful, sustainable design solutions.
LPA has won more than 600 major design awards including 200 prestigious AIA awards for projects spanning from K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to civic, corporate, religious and retail establishments. OCO, turning 30 this year, is known for its focus on K-12, as well as urban infill residential, civic and commercial projects. Dan Heinfeld, President at LPA, says, “Texas is the second-largest marketplace in the country, and with the expertise that we have developed in education learning environments and the expansion in all the other markets in Texas, it was a good time to look outside the state of California for the first time. So, we set off to find the right partner for this expansion.”
OCO Architect’s 30 year history, strong presence and reputation in the region made them an ideal partner for LPA’s first Texas location. LPA and OCO share a passion for sustainability, a commitment to client service and a belief that all stakeholders’ interests are the best answer in a collaborative design process. The merger of the talented people at LPA and OCO will benefit all of LPA’s clients and will enrich the sustainable places and spaces they design.
Shared core values and design ethics made LPA and OCO a natural match. “From the start of our discussions, we knew that this relationship would be on solid ground. The principals at OCO understand the value-proposition that an integrated design practice, where teams of in-house architects and engineers work in real-time with a focus on sustainability, would be for their clients,” explains Heinfeld.
Mark Oppelt, Principal at OCO, says the pairing seemed obvious. “Looking at [LPA’s] portfolio was like looking at a mirror of ours,” he says, noting the two firms will be even stronger as one. He looks forward to a “dynamic base of knowledge” when the practices are combined.
Texas is experiencing a period of growth, and LPA is ready to use its increased capabilities to take on new projects. With a changing educational landscape across the nation, LPA and OCO are rethinking how schools are designed and built.
“When we started talking about education, one of the first phrases that came to mind almost simultaneously was ‘Where we learn matters,’ so that’s become the theme of what we’re looking to achieve together,” explains Jim Kisel, Principal at LPA. “Whether it’s designing a school facility or master planning for future schools, bringing the best of both firms together to affect student outcomes and achievement is really exciting.”
Heinfeld sees these new learning environments as the center of the firm’s future outside of California. “There’s so much K-12 work to be done in the state of Texas. That’s one of the cores that we really want to build on and expand. We want to build on OCO’s excellent reputation and experience in the K-12 marketplace and expand into the other market that we do over time,” says Heinfeld.
Another goal is for LPA’s effective integrated process to become OCO’s model of service. With input from all the major disciplines throughout the design process, efficiency increases and coordination problems are avoided. Mickey Conrad, Principal at OCO, says, “The integrated design approach is much more inclusive, not only of architects and consultants, but also our clients. The more good decisions we can make early on, the more the project is benefited later on.” Integrated design is a hallmark of LPA’s dedication to efficiency and green building practices.
Conrad continues, “LPA has completed more than 100 LEED certified and designed projects. Their message that sustainability is really a business case where projects do more with less—more design and fewer resources—will resonate with our clients.” Reactions to the merger have been extremely positive. “People see this as a really positive thing for the firm,” says Heinfeld. “Internally, it’s been met with enthusiasm, and LPA clients get it, too. They really understand these are times where there’s lots of consolidation going on in the A & E market and a push to do things more efficiently. That’s what this is about.”
The San Antonio office will now be known as OCO LPA until January 1, 2015 at which time the office will be simply known as LPA. “We’re excited to have some new views and ways to look at the world. That’s what the creative process is about,” says Heinfeld. “We’re looking forward to making a difference, getting new input from our Texas partners and seeing how that collaboration will influence the firm.”
About LPA Inc.
Founded in 1965, LPA has more than 220 employees with offices in Irvine, Roseville, San Diego, and San Jose, Calif. and San Antonio, Texas. The firm provides services in architecture, sustainability, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering, and graphics. There is no “Sustainability Director,” at LPA. Instead, more than 80 percent of the professionals are LEED accredited, including the Human Resources Director, CFO, and several other support staff. With extensive experience in public and private architecture, LPA designs a diversity of facilities that span from K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to corporate and civic establishments. More than 600 major design awards attest to LPA’s commitment to design excellence. For more information, visit LPAinc.com.