- Written by: EOP Architects
- Produced by: EOP Architects
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Rick Ekhoff and Paul Ochenkoski were college classmates at the University of Kentucky. Together, they founded EOP Architects (EOP) in 1981. The architectural firm, based in Lexington, Ky., has grown from serving areas around its headquarters doing work throughout 35 states and China.
EOP has also grown its leadership base. “We have five principals now,” says Ekhoff. “We only hire the best of the best.”
EOP hires the best to do the best work for a wide array of clients. According to Ekhoff, the company doesn’t have a niche, but rather works within public and private sector on interior and exterior designs for residential, schools, offices, fitness centers, government buildings and more.
Despite its growth over the years, Ekhoff says, “What has remained consistent is that we continuously refine and emphasize our belief and passion that design excellence matters.
“We never become complacent in our process and constantly push the firm’s self-expectations,” he continues. “We understand the importance of not only remaining relevant but look for opportunities to differentiate and innovate. We have been extremely fortunate to have incredibly talented staff that share the firm’s vision and are willing to elevate their own professional awareness.”
EOP staff takes a research-based design approach toward work with its clients. The company has also show initiative in designing sustainable buildings and using technology. EOP worked on the first LEED certified project in the Commonwealth of Kentucky about eight years ago. That project has since played a role in region’s building designs since.
EOP also puts emphasis on the use of every evolving technology. The company was the first design firm in the country to commit 100 percent to Building Information Modeling. EOP continues to explore endless potentials of design and production.
Designing Outside the Box
EOP isn’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to design. The company’s website features an array of projects EOP has been involved with. Some of the designs are based on concepts and ideas surrounding the use for the building.
EOP worked on a new construction project in Lexington for the Liquor Barn. The design was based on the central idea of celebration. The retail location is a one-stop-shop for celebration necessities from beverages to party supplies.
The 56,000-square-foot building in Hamburg Pavilion welcomes customers with festive flair. The façade of the structure has a sweeping wave of neon lights that looks reminiscent of a whimsical party hat. The whole design was done in mind to set a cheerful, positive tone for customers to enjoy a shopping experience.
EOP doesn’t work solely with new construction. The company is teamed up with Lexington’s Southland Christian Church for an adaptive reuse of a building to become the church’s new campus. EOP embraced the client’s vision to turn a long vacant brick and mortar retail mail into an energized campus.
The 140,000-square-foot space features a contemporary design that breathes new life into the area. The slanted colonnade composition that defines the worship center’s exterior is a modern interpretation of the crucifixion. Additional design metaphors include references to the heavens through a pattern of recessed light niches and angular wall planes representing mountains.
The space, which once housed large department stores, is now used for worship and educational spaces. The 2,800-seat worship center is equipped with audiovisual technology. The facility includes a café for members of the church to gather before and after functions. The project also includes plans to rehabilitate the 30-acre campus, which includes parking for 1,800 vehicles.
One of the company’s more interesting projects was University of Kentucky’s Biological Pharmaceutical Complex. The 300,000-square-foot space, over the span of seven levels, was all new construction. The design includes 40 percent space for academic and administrative purposes and 60 percent for research. The highlight was the 20,000-square-foot vivarium, space to keep and raise living animals and plants under natural conditions for observation or research.
To Expand or Not to Expand
“EOP has struggled with the decision of expanding our services through an additional office location for a number of years,” says Ekhoff. “We have provided design services in over 30 states throughout the US and was most recently awarded our first large project contract in China. This expansion issue is one that the firm will need to address within the next couple of years if not sooner.”
It’s becoming ever more evident that the company may need to expand to meet its potential. Ekhoff reports the company is faced with new opportunities and client visions daily. Expansion may be necessary to meet client needs.
Ekhoff thinks that EOP may have received greater exposure had he and his partners founded the company in a place like New York City or Los Angeles. However, he believes forming the design firm in Kentucky has allowed the company to respond to challenges. This includes questions on the company’s design beliefs, which Ekhoff feels provides EOP with a unique experience.
“Our best work comes as a result of our client realizing that what EOP does can add value to their aspirations and help them succeed on a higher level,” he says.
For this reason, Ekhoff expects the company to continue flexing creative muscles and see where the next few years take EOP Architects.
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