Corgan is one of the most established and well respected architecture firms in North Texas, and the last five years have brought huge changes. The firm has been part of major projects, like the Parkland replacement project and State Farm, has seen big employee growth, and the opening of new offices around the U.S.
The company was started in 1938 by Jack M. Corgan, who designed movie theaters and drive-ins across the Southwestern U.S., locations he was able to reach in his own small airplane. An early notable project was Love Field Airport, and over the years, project types expanded.
“Parkland was a watershed project, and our interiors group had great success with Blue Cross, then Fossil, then State Farm in Richardson and Toyota headquarters in Frisco,” said Lindsay Wilson, Interiors Sector Leader at Corgan. “We’ve seen really explosive growth in our corporate headquarters, and also in mission critical facilities work, although most of their project work is pretty secretive — they often go by code names even within our office.”
The Dallas office has grown from fewer than 300 people to almost 500 in past three years. They’ve also established offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston in last five years, joining their offices in Phoenix, New York, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
So what’s Corgan’s secret sauce? How are they seeing such explosive growth and success? Deep technical expertise, responsive client relationships (91 percent of their business in 2015 was repeat), and a dynamic workforce, many of whom are Millennial interns later brought on as full-time employees.
“The amount of energy they bring – everybody gets excited when they are here, and a lot of our growth has been fueled by hiring them,” Wilson said.
Corgan continues to specialize in areas that were foundations of the firm, such as aviation, healthcare, and corporate offices. For example, they designed State Farm’s Richardson campus, which, at more than 2 million square feet, is the largest commercial development in DFW.
They’ve also won a competitive bid to design Toyota of North America’s Frisco headquarters. The campus will feature include an 850-person dining commons, healthcare clinic, 22,000-square-foot fitness center, 36,000-square-foot multipurpose knowledge center, 500-person gathering space, pharmacy, museum, and conference center. The project is targeting LEED Platinum certification.
“What we brought to the table [with Toyota] was the experience with corporate headquarters and also that everything they needed was in one place, sustainability, architects, and interiors,” Wilson said. “It’s a really fast-paced project and they are so focused on creating a great experience for their team members at that facility. It’s a seven-building campus, and connectivity is what’s really important to them — it is connected on the lower level around the central courtyard and that will connect all the amenity spaces.”
Another reason Corgan has been in the headlines is their work on the Parkland replacement project. Over the past seven years, they partnered with HDR to plan and create the 2.5-million-square-foot campus, featuring a 17-story main hospital building with 862-patient rooms. The patient-centered new design incorporates evidenced-based design and has been awarded LEED Gold Certification, as well as a design award from the Texas Society of Architects.
“We have a collaborative design process and we believe the best designs come out of contributions from end users and the design team together,” Wilson said. “We are really responsive to our clients and that approach crosses over all of our market sectors.”
One of their innovative strategies for growth is harnessing the creativity of Millennials in their workplace.
“One of the interesting things about our growth we have a robust college recruiting and summer internship program,” she said. “We visited 16 different campuses during their career fairs and internship fairs and in the Dallas office, we had over 50 interns.”
The Corgan studio encourages hands-on learning, interaction, and creativity for interns. They are studio members working in partnership with architects, interior designers, consultants, and clients. From day one, they are involved in projects from initial programming through final walk-through, with the goal of creating well-rounded designers. Some of these interns are hired once they graduate from university.
“Hiring new college grads is part of the magic — we spend a lot if time and effort indoctrinating people in our culture, and we feel the pulse on whether our employees are engaged in the firm,” she said. “It takes a lot of efforts from leaders and we have a lot of very long-tenured employees, too.”