BLRB Architects Acquires Ascent Architecture and Interiors

In a move that will enhance the range and depth of architectural resources available to Central and Eastern Oregon clients, BLRB Architects announced today that it has acquired Ascent Architecture and Interiors of Bend, Oregon.

Ascent, helmed by owner and principal, Seth Anderson, AIA, has served private and public clients in Bend and Central Oregon since 2014. Named 2018 Architecture Firm of the Year by the Central Oregon Builders Association, Ascent has completed several visible and award-winning commercial, housing and hospitality projects including Bethlehem Inn Homeless Shelter, Worthy Brewing Expansion and Observatory, Madras Vision Source and Lake Place mixed-use.

Specializing in architecture for public use, with a focus on educational and civic facilities, BLRB is a regional firm with a significant portfolio of housing, hospitality and commercial projects in Bend and the 

surrounding region. Ascent’s focus on commercial, medical, hospitality and senior housing projects represented a natural complement to BLRB’s vision for its practice in Central Oregon. The firm opened its Bend office in 2011 and employs a local team of 12 with 80 team members firm-wide.

The acquisition of Ascent will expand local staffing to 27, and significantly increase the professional resources and service capacity available to clients of both firms. Anderson will serve as principal of BLRB’s Bend office. Employees of both firms will remain in their current offices for the short term and integrate into new office space this Fall.

“Joining BLRB represents an amazing opportunity for the Ascent team,” said Anderson. “Our team will have access to a very deep well of specialized expertise and technology resources. We’re also excited to have an expanded team of colleagues, both regionally and locally, with whom to create and collaborate.”  

“Seth and I worked together years ago and we knew that we had shared values and a similar outlook on design, service, workplace practices and organizational growth,” said BLRB’s managing principal, Greg McCracken, AIA. “I respect and admire Seth’s work and what he and the team at Ascent have accomplished, so as this idea evolved between us over the last year, it seemed like a natural fit for both firms.”

Founded in 1953, BLRB Architects is a full-service architecture firm specializing in planning and design for educational and other public use facilities. The firm’s local projects in process include the new North Star Elementary School that will open September 2019; the phased reconstruction of Pilot Butte Middle School and 210 Century, a multi-story mixed use commercial/residential project opening Spring 2020. BLRB served projects totaling more than $750,000,000 in aggregate construction value throughout Oregon and Washington in 2018. 

Frequently Asked Questions

BLRB Architects acquires Ascent Architecture and Interiors

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH ASCENT AND BLRB?   BLRB Architects has acquired Ascent Architecture and Interiors in a move that expands existing capabilities, resources and market reach. All Ascent employees will become employees of BLRB Architects and, Ascent owner, Seth Anderson, will serve as principal of the combined Bend office.

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION FOR THIS MOVE?   Leadership of both firms recognized a strategic opportunity to expand specialized service offerings, refine project processes, diversify their portfolio and gain a competitive advantage. Existing synergies between values, culture and vision were intentionally considered and underpinned the acquisition process, making this a natural and exciting fit.

HOW DID THIS IDEA TAKE SHAPE?   BLRB’s managing principal, Greg McCracken, and Ascent owner, Seth Anderson, were former colleagues and maintained a professional relationship grounded by a shared approach to design, service and operations. A chance meeting in the Redmond airport last year led to a series of conversations revealing synergies in the two firms’ approach to architectural planning and design, client service and workplace culture that culminated in the decision to unite under one roof. Both firms put client-driven design at the heart of their business models and shared a vision of becoming a regional resource and innovative design leader for clients across the region.

WHAT’S THE LOCAL INDUSTRY IMPACT?   This move positions BLRB Architects as one of the largest firms in the Central Oregon market with a deep bench of talent and capabilities. Every practice area from K-12 to housing, public agency to brewery, product manufacturing to restaurants has been enhanced by the infusion of additional team talent with an emphasis on client-focused design and responsive service.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT PROJECTS AND CLIENTS?   Clients of both firms will experience a seamless transition and will benefit from this expanded bench of staff and capabilities. Existing project teams will remain in place so that momentum, knowledge and team synergy are carried forward and maintained. Clients will benefit from staff access to new resources and technologies, and will continue to experience excellence in service, engagement and the design product.

WHAT’S NEXT?   Staff at BLRB Architects and Ascent will remain in their locations for a short time before bring operations under one roof later this Fall. Watch for more acquisition news and what it means for the architectural landscape in Central Oregon over the coming months.

Newly Promoted Staff at BLRB Architects

BLRB Architects is pleased to announce staff promotions across our regional offices.

Robert Lindstrom, AIA, has been elevated to Principal of the firm. Lindstrom joined BLRB in 1997 and has served as an associate principal of the firm since 2011. With nearly 30 years of experience, Bob has served almost exclusively on the planning, design and delivery of K-12 projects. His recent projects include the modernization of Forks High School in Forks, WA; and Lakeridge Middle School in Sumner, WA. He is currently serving the Auburn School District for the replacement of Olympic Middle School and a new elementary school, both slated to open September 2019.

Chris Moore, AIA; Heidi Slaybaugh, AIA; and Chris Shelton have been promoted to Senior Associates of the firm. Moore serves as a director of the firm’s Bend office and leads the firm’s commercial projects in Oregon. Also a director of the firm’s Bend office, Slaybaugh manages the firm’s K-12 projects in Central and Eastern Oregon. Chris Shelton, who has been with the firm since 2009, is BLRB’s Marketing Director and is based in Tacoma.

Located in BLRB’s Tacoma office, Angela Borrowman, LEED GA; Charla Burgdorf, AIA; and Jay Henson, AIA, LEED AP; have been promoted to Associates of the firm. Joining them as Associates are Michael Harmel, Assoc. AIA, and Angela Crooks in the Portland office, and Mindy Lyman, NCIDQ, LEED AP, in Bend. 

BLRB is proud to recognize these employees for their client-focused mindset, professional expertise, and dedication to BLRB Architects’ continued leadership in educational architecture throughout the Northwest.

BLRB Celebrates 65th Anniversary

May 2018 marks 65 years in business for BLRB Architects. In May 1953, Donald F. Burr established Donald F. Burr, AIA and Associates in Lakewood, Washington, and led the firm as managing principal until 1981. In an era when architects were often prescriptive in their design methods, Burr developed the collaborative, interactive project planning and design process that is still a recognized hallmark of our firm’s service today.

In the 1960s, Burr became intrigued by changes taking place in educational theory, as educators acknowledged that the physical environment has a significant impact on student achievement and teacher performance. Shifting the firm’s design emphasis from sophisticated residential and commercial projects to a focus on educational architecture, Burr became a regionally and nationally recognized leader in the field of educational architecture.

In 1982, Jerry Lawrence and Paul Rising purchased the firm, creating Burr Lawrence Rising Architects. In 1989, the firm was renamed Burr Lawrence Rising + Bates Architects following the elevation of Thomas Bates as a principal of the firm. Soon after, the firm was renamed BLRB Architects and has grown to include offices in Tacoma and Spokane, Washington; and Portland and Bend, Oregon. To this day, BLRB Architects continues Don Burr’s legacy of collaborative, sustainable and flexible design for a variety of building types.

Auburn's Olympic Middle School Breaks Ground

Bob Lindstrom and Ron Harpel from BLRB recently joined staff, students, and officials from Auburn School District and the City of Auburn to break ground on the replacement of Olympic Middle School. The new 105,000 square-foot school will be built on the site of the existing Olympic Middle School with an estimated construction value of $53.7 million.  The new building is scheduled for a June 2019 completion. 

BLRB Portland Relocates to New Office

BLRB Architects is happy to announce that we have moved into a new office in the American Bank Building on SW Morrison Street in Portland.

We have steadily expanded our Portland team over the last several years and will be adding even more team members in the coming months. With the prospect of this upcoming staff expansion, we found that we have outgrown our current office space.

With upcoming commissions including a new elementary school, a comprehensive high school renovation and multiple capital planning projects on the horizon, we are gratified and enthusiastic about what the future holds for us.

BLRB Architects’ new Portland office is located at:

621 SW Morrison Street, Suite 950, Portland, OR 97205

Phone: 503.595.0270

Jonah Jensen Elevated to Associate Principal; Relocates to Portland

BLRB Architects is proud to announce that Jonah Jensen, AIA, LEED AP, has been elevated to Associate Principal of the firm and has relocated to the firm’s Portland office.

With BLRB since 2006, Jensen has served as designer, architect and project manager on a variety of K-12 projects, including the rehabilitation and expansion of Tacoma’s Washington Elementary School, and the modernization and expansion of the historic Loyal Heights Elementary School in Seattle. Jensen’s interest and experience with historic architecture led him to a position on Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and authorship of a book highlighting the renovation of Tacoma’s Stadium High School, prior to joining BLRB.

Jensen joins the firm’s 10-person Portland office, and will be serving on projects in process, including the modernization of Gresham High School, multiple projects for the Kalama School District, and capital planning for the Astoria School District.

Jensen has been actively involved in community and professional organizations including Tacoma’s Downtown On the Go, Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Jensen graduated from Washington State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies.

Wilburton Elementary Breaks Ground

On Wednesday, July 19, the Bellevue School District hosted a groundbreaking event for the new Wilburton Elementary School. When it opens in September 2018, Wilburton will offer nearly 84,000 square feet of educational space across a compact, two-story floor plan. The program features 29 general and special instruction spaces and four (4) early childcare rooms. This new school, designed to accommodate 600 students in grades PK-5, will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment with naturally-lit, cheerful spaces and a contemporary expression, in keeping with BSD’s most-recently constructed schools. This project was funded by the district’s February 2014 bond. BLRB’s previous projects for BSD include the replacements of Chinook Middle School (2014) and Newport Heights Elementary (2008); and the modernization of Interlake High School (2005). 

Astoria SD Selects BLRB for Planning & Assessment

BLRB was selected by the Astoria School District for facility assessment and long-range capital planning in support of the district’s 2018 capital bond initiative. Upon bond passage in 2018, the district anticipates nearly $30 million in capital facility improvement projects.  BLRB previously served the Astoria School District from 1999-2003 on $21.5 million of capital facility projects across all of their schools. The assessment portion of this project will get underway this summer.

BLRB Selected for Kalama SD Planning Services

BLRB was recently selected by the Kalama School District to provide facility and bond planning services. Our work will encompass the validation of KSD’s recent OSPI Study & Survey, planning and pre-design for a modernization of the historic junior/senior high school, and a replacement elementary school that will be developed on an as-yet to be identified new site. The projected estimate for the capital bond is approximately $60 million.

On a movie trivia note, Kalama High School appeared in the Twilight movie series as Forks High School. BLRB previously served the Quillayute Valley School District on the modernization and addition to the actual Forks High School!

Auburn SD Selects BLRB for New Elementary Schools

The Auburn School District (whom BLRB is currently serving for the replacement of Olympic Middle School) has selected BLRB for three upcoming elementary school projects. The award will encompass planning, design and delivery of New Elementary School #15, which will start March 2018; the replacement of Lea Hill Elementary, starting Spring 2019 and New Elementary School No. 16 which will kick off Spring 2020.

BLRB Selected for Centralia High School Modernization

BLRB has been selected as the architect for the modernization of Centralia High School. The project is part of the $74 million bond approved by voters in March 2017.

Originally designed by BLRB founder Don Burr in the late 1960s, the firm sees the project as a wonderful opportunity to build upon the firm’s legacy and bring Centralia High School’s learning environment into the 21st century.

Referring to BLRB’s mission to design schools that are central to the lives of the communities they serve, Centralia School District Superintendent Mark Davalos stated, “That’s an important philosophy that pairs well with our vision for schools that will become neighborhood centers of learning and activity.”