- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Dave Gushee
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Since 1968, BGO Architects has been serving the needs of a diverse multifamily market throughout the United States. Originally founded by Jerry Beeler, the business has maintained a strong niche. Throughout the years, BGO has established a reputation for exceeding expectations and industry standards for the design and implementation of challenging multifamily projects throughout the county.
While Beeler and two more founding partners – John Guest, joining in 1969, and John “Buz” Owens, who joined the firm in 1973 – are still actively involved, they are moving toward retirement. The firm is in the midst of preparing for this transition as other partners step into roles that are more management-oriented. Erik Earnshaw is one such partner and is taking on new leadership responsibility alongside Jaron Daily, Richard Heidenreich and Minho Kim.
“Beeler steered the firm into this niche because he thought it would be successful and sustainable,” says Earnshaw. “We are still heavily involved in this market. We are a boutique architecture firm specializing in multifamily project. Every project we do is customized to our clients’ needs, objectives and specific land parcel. What sets us apart is very site-specific design and our ability to take on highly specialized projects.”
Complex multifamily projects
With a staff of just under 50 in the firm’s single office in Dallas, BGO serves a broad market. With a focus on multifamily housing, the team is not limited within that niche. “We do specifically serve the multifamily market, but 5 percent of our work is retail,” says Earnshaw. “Typically the commercial projects are some way involved in multifamily or mixed-use design. Our range extends from luxury mid-rise, podium and mixed-use developments to tax credit, and workforce housing – horizontal and vertical.”
Working coast-to-coast, BGO has ongoing projects in 14 states, from Washington to Delaware. A recent example is Eleven, a unique multifamily project in Austin, Texas. “This is a spectacular podium-style project that sits on the east side of Highway 35 with grand views of downtown Austin, including the State Capitol,” Earnshaw elaborates. “There are two levels of parking, and four stories above featuring two interior courtyards opened to the sky. One is more passive, with sitting and shade structures and the other has a resort style swimming pool off the club room and fitness center.”
The multifamily structure also features a rooftop deck with enclosed air-conditioned and heated spaces as well as outdoor space, open to residents. The roof will accommodate parties and events for residents with a birds-eye view of Austin in the backdrop.
Earnshaw explains that the biggest challenge on the Eleven project had to do with the tightness of the site. With close proximity to Highway 35, it became critical to carefully determine what to build and how to build it. “Coordination is key in getting materials off the road and onto the site, which is 95 percent building with side yards,” says Earnshaw. “As an urban infill project, this was challenging; the contractors received materials on a daily basis instead of weekly or monthly.” Now complete, Eleven has been open and occupied for more than a year with around 95 percent occupancy.
BGO designed Lancaster Urban Village, an affordable housing project for city of Dallas completed in 2014. The award-winning community has been recognized by the National Association of Homebuilders, earning the association’s Pillars of the Industry Award by the National Association of Homebuilders.
The development sits across street from a Veterans Affairs hospital and is conveniently situated alongside mass transit. “This infill area had not been developed in more than 25 years,” says Earnshaw. “It was challenging to take four existing properties and merge them into one. Of course with the land undeveloped for so long, we also had to deal with antique infrastructure. For sanitary sewer and drainage, we had to connect the development to pipes 600 feet off-site.”
Earnshaw considers Lancaster Urban Village to be an integral part of the neighborhood’s rejuvenation. The building will feature housing for families that live and work in the area, particularly catering to employees of the hospital. The building also features 13,000 square feet of first-floor retail space, making room for more business and employment opportunities.
One of the most memorable projects for the BGO team has been the design of the Upper East Side. “This project was an apartment development first done in the early ’70s,” Earnshaw explains. “BGO conceived the previous development, The Bluffs, for a client in 1973. That community was operational until 2010 when the owner decided to completely rebuild it, going from a two-story low-density to a three-story, higher-density building.”
Completed in 2014, Upper East Side meets LEED Silver requirements and offers a range of amenities. Set on a 17-acre site, the development features open spaces and three-story garden style walkups with individual courtyards. On the premises’ three-acre lawn, there is a resort-style swimming pool and space for performances and resident meetups.
There is also a state-of-the-art two-story fitness center with weights and cardio equipment on the first floor with class space on the second. The facility overlooks a lap pool, hot tub, cold plunge tub and exterior yoga yard.
Putting clients first
With a healthy portfolio and a growing team, Earnshaw looks forward to more challenging projects in the coming years. “It is exciting to see these projects conceived, see them finished and to work with clients from day One through the design-build project,” he says. “We strive to build success for owners – for their economic gain and complete satisfaction. We go beyond the expectations of ownership groups to deliver high-quality products that are in line with cost expectations.”
BGO strives to bring great architecture to areas in need of multifamily housing. For Earnshaw and his colleagues, the practice is more than just designing buildings; the team designs spaces to meet the needs of communities and environments.
As demand continues to grow in the multifamily market, BGO Architects will continue to provide leading expertise and remarkable value to clients across the U.S.
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