When Amy Smith and Darcie McConnaha began their internships at LRS Architects in 2001 and 2003, respectively, neither could have imagined their longevity with the firm. Both are now partners, managing their own project lists and advising directors on the direction of the business.
“I remember how LRS provided such flexibility in my school schedule,” says Smith. “They understood that I needed to go back and forth between work and class projects. And later, when I became a mother, they were delighted to welcome me while I returned to work. This flexible work culture is one of the main reasons I have stayed at LRS for so long.
This culture of flexibility, which places a strong emphasis on work-life balance, fosters collaboration and allows employees to focus on their individual interests, has become a key part of what LRS employees see as. a great place to work for LRS employees.
LRS Architects is the 2021 winner of the Oregonian / OregonLive Top Workplaces competition, now in its 10th year. This is the sixth consecutive year that LRS Architects has won this award.
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The company is based in Portland, with a satellite office in Bend, and employs a total of 121 people. LRS Architects’ self-reported annual revenue for 2020 was approximately $ 24 million.
LRS Architects is made up of several studios that each carry out their own types of specialized design projects: automotive, civic, multi-family, office and workplace, retail, and retirement home. Customers have scoured the entire city of Vancouver, Washington, to local car dealerships, to the conversion of Portland’s former Guild Theater to the Kinokuniya bookstore.
In the anonymous Top Workplace surveys that employees completed, several common threads emerged. Employees felt that the company nurtures individual creative interests in a supportive and nurturing environment, and that they are part of a highly collaborative team with minimal ego that understands that they are serving a more important purpose.
“If you express creative interest to your manager, there will be a project where you can put that into practice,” says McConnaha. “Other companies could lock you up to do the details of the door during two years; here you are encouraged to follow your interests.
“People really enjoy spending time together here,” says Joe Bosnar, a project manager who has worked for the company for over eight years. “I mainly work on multi-family projects, but sometimes we open up our design process to allow input from colleagues who work in other studios to present new ideas to the client.”
Bosnar continues: “There are a lot of people to turn to if you get stuck or need help. Employees are fully supported throughout the design process.
This support extends to protecting employees against burnout. “In other companies, employees are expected to work 50 to 60 hours per week. It just doesn’t happen here, ”says Bosnar.
Much has changed in the Portland architectural firm world since Bill Ruff and Steve Lee founded the company in 1976. When Ruff and Lee started their firm, they differentiated themselves from others by focusing above all else. on customer relations. This philosophy took root and is still an essential part of the way LRS Architects does business today.
“We collaborate with our customers rather than leading them, which is why we have so many loyal customers,” says Smith.
McConnaha continues, “Customers are happier at the end of the day because they’ve always been an essential part of the process. “
2021 marks the first year that LRS Architects has become a predominantly female-led company, with three of the five directors being women. “Architecture has always been a male dominated profession,” says McConnaha. “When I started here, Trish Nixon was the only female director. Culture has changed. “
Nixon, a 25-year veteran of LRS Architects, now runs the company as chairman. This year, she received the Special Top Workplaces award for her leadership in the mid-size business category.
See more coverage of the best workplaces at oregonlive.com/topworkplaces.