600 West Sixth St., Suite 100
Fort Worth 76102
RSP Architects enjoys more than an expanding clientele. Its Fort Worth office now enjoys a better view.
“We’ve gone from the back of the building to the front,” says Ed Hess, associate principal for the Minneapolis-based firm providing architectural and engineering services for retail and distribution.
Only three associates staffed the Fort Worth office when it opened in 2012. They came from Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and Carter & Burgess and worked on the ground floor of downtown’s Cantey Hanger Plaza at 600 W. Sixth St.
About 18 associates share the new space, formerly occupied by engineering/architecture firm HDR Inc., which relocated to a higher floor. The new suite doubles RSP’s previous space, which was subleased from TXU Energy.
The relocation – “only about 100 feet, really, but quite a leap forward,” Hess says – comes as a recovering economy continues to bring potential clients to the firm’s doorstop.
“We’re adding staff and gaining new clients every day,” Hess said.
From Whole Foods Market and Nestle to Wal-Mart and UPS, Hess’ Fort Worth team serves clients both local and national. The Fort Worth office and the company’s Minneapolis headquarters focus on the nation’s central region, among other areas. Its Fort Worth engineering staff specializes in distribution and warehouse services.
“The new office is more visible and will help us better serve current clients and attract top talent,” said Steve Hall, associate principal for retail.
“Steve heads up retail, and I head up distribution for this office. We share resources and provide customers a great service,” Hess said.
Whole Foods Market recently benefited from that service when RSP designed a Southern California distribution center for the Austin-based grocer. It features 90 percent recycled steel, LED lighting and no Freon – considered hallmarks of ecology minded design
Hess discussed RSP’s work – and the new office – with the Fort Worth Business Press.
First of all, congratulations on the Fort Worth expansion. For how long has RSP had a Fort Worth office?
We’ve been here since February 2012. We had come from Jacobs. We were all longtime Carter & Burgess people, too. When Jacobs bought Carter & Burgess in 2007, RSP was looking to put in an office in the DFW market. They found us.
What did the Jacobs-Carter & Burgess transaction mean for your team and for RSP?
To be honest, it was an opportunity for our groups to expand a little bit. RSP had a great portfolio in retail, but they had all architects and no engineers on staff. We were bringing engineering on board. They did all retail and no distribution at that point. Putting all that under one roof was good for the firm.
At the old RSP location, lease space was available for sublease. We were in a small subleased space in the same building, the Cantey Hanger building. It went to over 3,500 square feet there [in the new space], almost doubling our square footage in the front of the building. The move was pretty easy, about 100 feet in all (laughs).
On the same floor?
Yes, it wasn’t a long move. TXU had that space [the smaller, original RSP office] when we first moved in: Suite 175. We’re now in Suite 100. Our name is on the building now, so that’s always a step up.
Through what broker did you lease the space?
We leased it through Red Oak [Realty], but TXU left the lease intact. We’re still paying it.
How many are on staff?
We have our own design team, about 18 in Fort Worth and we’re looking to grow. We have a retail distribution focus now.
What’s your role with the operation?
Well, I’m on the distribution side. I manage that group. I’m connected with retail, but I’d say [retail] centers are pretty hot. We have a good mix of high-end design, high-end architecture, projects like PetSmart, Walgreens, Target. As the economy goes, retail goes. On the distribution side, once cash registers are installed and stores get built, that’s when you see the need for distribution.
We do distribution for Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, etc.
What led Minneapolis execs to choose Fort Worth for an office location? Was there demand for a design approach that you specialized in? An ongoing project?
A little of both. The rest of the country was going through the recession. DFW really wasn’t hit as hard, so our economy was still pretty strong and had a pretty good work force. A lot of companies were moving into Texas at the time and [RSP] saw that as a great opportunity to take advantage of the market.
What about geographic location? Much is made of Fort Worth’s central location from a national perspective.
Fort Worth is a good, central location. I’m on the structural side of things, not engineering. I came from a long line of structural design people, spent 20 years at Carter & Burgess in Fort Worth, was construction manager for a year and came back and worked my way up through the Wal-Mart distribution program. I was always in Fort Worth. Carter & Burgess had the largest engineering and architectural firms in Fort Worth for a long time and I was hired in 1992. I grew up in Fort Worth. I’m from Pennsylvania, but I got here as fast as I could.
You specialize in retail, and Fort Worth has added considerable retail properties in recent years. Is there a specific architectural style or approach that clients are requesting these days? Is there one that RSP specializes in?
Distribution centers are not sexy. It all depends on location and, really, the feel. Our design guys do a great job of sitting down with clients and putting down good, solid concepts. “Design that works” is our motto. It doesn’t mean it’s designed for any specific reasons, but it just works.
Could you give me a few examples of projects you’re particularly proud of? Some local projects, perhaps?
Last fall, we opened a distribution center for Whole Foods Market east of Los Angeles and it was a state-of-the-art perishable goods facility.
How was the Fort Worth office involved with it?
We permitted all architecture, including refrigeration, and carried out construction administration. We led it from start to finish. Eighty percent of our work is outside of Texas. The nature of the business is that our clients are national. We’re happy when we get one close to Texas.
Why have a Fort Worth office with so much of your work out of state?
That’s one of reasons we’re expanding. We just hired someone here locally, a business development-focused person. We also just hired two business development folks looking to expand our capabilities in Fort Worth. We need to do more local work. I grew up in national programs, so having that local focus person to start to make connections here is one of our key next steps.
What about the coming year? Any more expansion or hiring?
We’re bringing in other market sectors into our office. For years, we’ve been focused on retail. We’ve grown our staff with retail and distribution. We have some folks here who helped get us into other markets. We do government and corporate work and education and health and science work, and there’s a lot of competition.
We’re on the cutting edge of distribution. I’ve seen so many different things come out of our distribution, I can’t say a specific thing.
With the new office, do you plan any new hiring or expansion of services that you offer?
We do. That’s ultimately the goal: to be smart, and I’ve seen too many firms here try to go too big too fast and try to do too much.