If there’s one thing that sets Kirksey Architecture (Kirksey) apart, it’s continuity. John Kirksey founded the company in 1971, and he is still at work every day and is heavily involved in the firm’s endeavors. Many of Kirksey’s employees have spent 10, 20 or even 30 years with the company, which enables the firm to bring an unparalleled amount of expertise to every project and creates a family-focused tone for the corporate culture.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that the knowledge you see in our portfolio is still here and working every day,” says Wes Good, managing principal at Kirksey. The firm is headquartered on a six-acre campus in the heart of Houston, Texas, where 100 professionals come together to develop design solutions that prioritize the end-user’s needs and sustainability.
Kirksey’s staff includes professionals specializing in architecture, interior architecture, visualizations, programming and master planning as well as eco-services. Kirksey’s portfolio spans several market sectors, including commercial, community, collegiate, pre-kindergarten through high school, government, healthcare, hospitality, religious, residential, renovation, as well as science and technology.
No matter the project type, the team at Kirksey believes that every design should adhere to the company’s mission to promote healthy buildings, healthy people, and a healthy planet. The team’s mission is the reason why Kirksey has managed to design more than 27 million square feet of LEED-certified space.
“We estimate that within the state of Texas, 17 percent of all LEED-certified projects are ours,” expands Good. “But for us, it’s not even about LEED certification. We just want our clients to know that their project can still come with a very high level of sustainable thinking and design, regardless of whether or not it pursues LEED certification.”
Kirksey focuses exclusively on the architectural side of each project, and the team partners with a network of specialized engineering consultants for civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering services. The team also offers unique in-house services such as daylight and energy modeling. Kirksey bucks the norm and begins daylighting and building envelope modeling concurrent to its design process, allowing a design to be tweaked in-process for maximum impact to both the visual appeal of a building and its operational efficiency.
The Extra Effort
Kirksey is committed to promoting sustainable design and building practices, so the company hosts LEED training and educational programs at its head campus, which has trained over 1,750 industry professionals to date. The program is part of Kirksey University, an in-house training initiative that the firm uses to keep its own professionals up-to-date on the latest LEED standards. The program is now certified as one of the U.S. Green Building Council’s education partners to train LEED Accredited Professionals and Green Associates. The service is also open to outside industry professionals at no cost.
“We could probably charge for these programs, but we don’t because education is such a huge part of what we do,” expands Good. “Our industry is constantly changing and we want to always be considered a strong, knowledge-based company.”
The team at Kirksey has been putting the team’s extensive knowledge to work in recent years, completing the new Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences Complex. The new four-building complex sprawls across 300,000 square feet. “This was one of my favorite projects because it combines all 14 of the university’s agricultural departments into one campus,” says Good.
Kirksey’s design provides enough space for more than 600 faculty members, along with classrooms, a new visitor’s center and museum, constructed wetlands and a bioswale to minimize the building’s environmental impact. “We also included a 65,000-gallon rainwater collection system that is one of the largest we have ever seen constructed,” beams Good.
The design includes a two-story canopy running parallel to the agriculture and life sciences building where the pillars serve as 9,000 gallon water cisterns, channeling rainwater and roof runoff into a 40,000-gallon underground storage tank. The water will ultimately be used for irrigating the complex’s landscaping. The construction of the first three buildings was completed in January 2012, and the final phase of the complex, the AgriLife Conference Center, has not yet been scheduled.
A Busy-ness Balance
Other recent projects of note include a 20-story LEED Platinum-pursuant office building for Skanska in Houston’s Galleria district and the LEED Silver-certified modernization of a 1960s petrochemical technology center for a confidential client in Houston. Kirksey is also providing its expertise to the new petroleum engineering and research building at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
“I think we have great potential for growth in the next few years, not only because of our diverse market sector focus, but also because we have an incredible staff that is eager to see us grow,” expands Good. “We’ll just have to remember to keep pushing our employees to have a good work-life balance.”
In order to promote a positive work-life balance, the Kirksey campus is equipped with an outdoor patio providing the perfect space to host fun events for the company’s employees. The firm’s commitment to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, which hosts quarterly drives at Kirksey, allows plenty of opportunities and incentives for Kirksey professionals to take a deep breath and recharge. Harnessing a proactive, homegrown sustainability philosophy, Kirksey Architecture will continue to build a community that works together to succeed and create the kind of environment employees will never want to leave.
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