- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
BBGM has been providing innovative design solutions on an international scale since 1987. The firm is led by principals, Domenic Giordano, Bruno Grinwis and Bahram Kamali. With a team of 30 in-house architects, BBGM stands out for a renowned dedication to excellence, carried forward by partners who “exceed client expectations with exceptional design.” The company is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but has established lasting relationships on several continents.
“We focus on private markets, specifically hospitality, commercial office, high-rise and multifamily,” says Giordano. “Many architects do everything for everybody; we focus just on those prime markets.”
As principals of a boutique firm, Giordano, Grinwis and Kamali enjoy the luxury side of the market, especially in hospitality and multifamily residential work. By providing expertise both in pre-design and throughout a project, the team works closely with clients and builds lasting relationships. “We like to work clients who are in it for the fun too, not just the nuts and bolts,” Giordano adds.
For more than 25 years, BBGM has focused on design as well as working with clients to understand their company cultures and offering them solutions that reflect who they are and what their visions are. Client relationships are the cornerstone of the company’s success.
“All three of us here in Washington are involved in every project coming out of our office,” says Grinwis. “We know our clients personally; we maintain intimate relationships and 80 percent of our work is for repeat clients. We entrust our staff to do our work, but we are very picky and disciplined with hiring. This is a long process for us and we keep our staff for a long time. Clients become our friends. We care a lot about the buildings we design, but it is not just about the design; it’s also about the people we design for.”
Relationships also keep the firm operating strongly on an international scale. “Our firm does not need to be in any specific geographic region,” Grinwis notes. “We work in all corners of the United States, down into the Caribbean, into South America and we are expanding our reach into the Middle East. We are looking to open an office there, but we take a very strategic approach. We do not need to add locations for the sake of just being somewhere. We have connections with clients in the Middle East because we have always worked on an international scale.”
While BBGM survived the recession and is thriving from a financial standpoint, the firm’s partners picked up a few key lessons from the experience. “Architecture and design are what we are good at,” says Grinwis. “In order to create consistent value and increase our productivity during the downturn, we adapted our business structure.”
The company now outsources back-end aspects of the business, such as accounting and human resources. “It doesn’t make sense for us to keep these entities in-house when we just need a service,” Grinwis elaborates. “Think of us hiring engineers; we don’t have engineers internally, but we can choose the expertise we need for a specific project. If I’m doing a new corporate office and he’s doing a new hotel, these projects require different talents. We can go to the best talents out there instead of splitting a single in-house engineer between several disciplines.”
By outsourcing, Giordano, Grinwis and Kamali can focus on design and let the professionals take care of the rest. “The only person we hire on the back end directly in-house is information technology,” says Grinwis. “We need that assistance on a constant basis to trouble shoot systems, maintain the cloud and keep us going. For example, we are Revit users, so I.T. is a very large part of the success of our company.”
Creating captivating spaces
BBGM is plenty busy at home, with seven hotel projects ongoing in early 2015. “We are one of the most well-known hospitality architecture firms,” Giordano notes. “A lot of our clients come to us for our expertise in that field.”
“Right now we are working on the Washington Hotel,” adds Kamali. “We are involved in the renovation of the Watergate Hotel, too, which is a landmark historical monument and it will reopen very soon. We also have a project at the Hotel Intercontinental on the waterfront, which is another landmark.”
“This year our balance skews local, geographically speaking,” explains Giordano. “Because Washington, D.C., is one of the biggest areas for nonprofit and trade associations, a lot goes on in that field. We have worked for the Better Business Bureau headquarters here, for example.”
“Our portfolio includes a number of workplace office projects,” adds Grinwis. “We have worked with Futures Group, a global health consulting firm, Precision for Medicine, a pharmaceutical and life sciences company, and Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey, a direct marketing firm.”
“During the Futures Group redesign, we worked with staff, not just leadership, on the redesign,” Grinwis continues. “That is pretty rare in the field. That was a long process and we were working with the real estate group for two years. We helped to guide them through the workplace change. Actually, the design and the construction phase were shorter than the prelease work.”
As the firm approached 30 years in business, Giordano, Grinwis and Kamali are prepared for a continued upward trajectory. “We’ve created a good practice with good business sense together,” says Grinwis. “We made in through the recession well and we are thriving now.”
The partners look forward to new adventures both at home in Washington, D.C., and abroad as BBGM maintains strong relationships with clients via quality design and personal attention.
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