Back in town after stints at firms in New York and D.C., a pair of local commercial interior designers is launching their own business under the umbrella of a national architecture brand.
Whitney Campbell and Laura Marcus-Plant have opened a Richmond office for ENV, a Los Angeles-based design firm with independently owned offices in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Campbell and Marcus-Plant, most recently with downtown firm Evolve Architecture, share ownership of the local ENV office, based in the Scott’s Addition Gather coworking space.
Both working mothers, Campbell, 33, and Marcus-Plant, 40, said their practice will stand apart from other Richmond design firms for its status as a women-owned business and support from ENV’s offices in other metros – New York in particular.
“There are not a lot of women-owned architectural firms in Richmond,” Marcus-Plant said. “We are our own entity, but what’s great is we have the shared resources from our New York office, which I think will be very beneficial for us.”
A VCU grad with a degree in interior design, Marcus-Plant is certified by the Council of Interior Design Qualification and has 20 years of experience with firms including Gensler and IA Interior Architects in New York.
She also worked for real estate company JLL as a senior occupancy planner and a liaison for Capital One before joining Evolve, which was acquired by Wendel in 2016.
It was at Evolve where Marcus-Plant met Campbell, a UNC-Greensboro grad with a bachelor’s in interior architecture who likewise lived in Richmond as a young adult.
While there, the two collaborated on jobs such as Owens & Minor’s client engagement center at Riverfront Plaza, with Campbell serving as project manager and Marcus-Plant leading the design team. They also worked together on projects for Capital One and Altria, said Campbell, who has LEED accreditation and is working toward an architectural license.
“Laura and I wanted to stay together,” Campbell said. “When we left our last firm, we had been working on all of the largest projects that came in the doors there for the last two years and were ready to take the next step.”
Campbell said her contacts at ENV said their D.C. office needed help with some work, and with Richmond nearby, opening an office here was seen as mutually beneficial. She and Marcus-Plant went through an approval process with the company to become principals and co-owners, and they officially launched the Richmond office last month.
Campbell said their focus is on interior design for commercial office space, as well as tenant fit-outs and lobby upgrades.
“You tear the thing apart, and we put it back together,” she said, adding that she and Marcus-Plant have experience specifically with government agencies, higher education and public-sector work.
ENV, short for Environetics, provides architectural, interior design and engineering services. The company was founded in 1946 and totals more than 80 employees across its five offices.
The Richmond office’s territory will cover all of Virginia and parts of D.C., Campbell said. While the company does not have active clients in Richmond yet, she said it plans to change that while also adding staff and securing a permanent office location.
“We’re hoping to play off of really anything that we have going for us at this point,” Campbell said, adding that they hope to pick up a Fortune 500 client like Owens & Minor.
“I think our approach is going to be a little more well-rounded than what you normally see out of a large group,” she said. “I think that’s one of the benefits of a small firm in general.”
ENV adds to a growing local architecture scene that recently has added such firms as D.C.-based Hickok Cole, which also maintains its local office at the Scott’s Addition Gather. Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater planted its flag in Shockoe Slip last year, and Petersburg-based Enteros Design opened an office in Shockoe Bottom in November.