Longtime Richmond architecture firm Baskervill is closing out its 125th year in business with two new offices, following the opening of another that’s taken its footprint global.
The company announced Thursday it has opened outposts in Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver; and Gdańsk, Poland, the firm’s first office outside the U.S.
President Bob Clark said Baskervill’s Poland office has been operational for three years, while the Charlotte and Denver offices are recently opened.
“We realized we never announced it,” Clark said of the Poland office. “We just did it, and it took off stronger than we expected. When we went to announce Charlotte and Denver, we realized, ‘You know, we never talked about Poland.’ It’s kind of a big deal for us, so we wanted to make sure we gave it the love also.”
Clark said the Gdańsk office grew out of an effort to identify and recruit new talent in 2019, when he said the industry was going through a labor shortage.
“In 2019, labor was extremely hard to find. We opened it in 2019 as an outsourcing opportunity, and then we soon quickly learned the talent and the education of the folks available there was outstanding,” he said. “We’ve been very pleased and thrilled with the level of talent and capabilities we’ve found there.”
He said the Poland office currently totals 15 employees, while the Denver and Charlotte offices have five and four, respectively. At 170 employees total, the firm is looking to add positions at each of the new offices, all of which involved current employees willing to relocate. The Poland and Charlotte offices are led by employees who were previously in Richmond and D.C.
Clark described the Charlotte office as a long-term strategic move, positioned between its D.C. and Orlando outposts, while the Denver office resulted from current work there and a handful of employees’ desire to move there.
“We’d looked in the North Carolina market for years. We finally had the right mix of people to pull the trigger and execute on Charlotte,” he said. “Denver was actually more of an opportunity. We have several projects in the Denver market right now, and we had some staff members post-COVID say they would love to live in Denver.”
Current projects in Denver include a seven-story, 153-room Cambria brand hotel in the city’s RiNo district. That project broke ground over the summer, BizSense sister site BusinessDen reported in August. Other out-of-state projects include a CitizenM hotel the company is designing in Austin, Texas.
Locally, its recent output has included the NOVA Aquatics facility at Regency, and the Gather & Hem bar and other renovations at the Hilton Richmond Downtown hotel. It’s designing the new Supreme Court of Virginia building, and in Williamsburg, the firm helped design the Hearth memorial at the College of William & Mary, honoring enslaved workers who built the university.
The company is two years into its new digs at The James Center, where it moved its headquarters in 2020 after 17 years in the Canal Crossing building in Shockoe Slip.
The move coincided with the arrival of COVID, which impacted Baskervill’s business in the hospitality industry and saw the firm undergo a round of layoffs, followed months later by furloughs when funding from the federal Paycheck Protection Program ran out.
Clark said the company made it through those challenges and is now focused on smart but steady growth.
“I think we were the quintessential example of using the PPP properly. We held onto a lot of folks through the downturn, and we were very grateful for the PPP opportunity that allowed us to do that,” he said.
“We do a lot of hospitality, and the hospitality market and hotels were probably the first and the hardest-hit in the pandemic. But as we came out of the pandemic for our industry, in mid-2021, we saw a tremendous amount of work coming,” he said. “From then on, we’ve been ramping back up again, trying to be smart and hire carefully for the long term.”
Baskervill’s new outposts add to other office moves among architects in Richmond.
510 Architects is planning a move next year from Scott’s Addition to Northside after its owners went in on a Chamberlayne Avenue building purchase. Dwell Design Studio recently opened a Richmond office in Scott’s Addition, and Marvel opened a downtown outpost earlier this year.