Case Studies

Merriman Associates / Architects Inc.

Driving LEED-certified projects in Dallas and beyond

Merriman Associates/Architects Inc. (maa) is a Dallas-based architecture and planning firm covering a wide range of projects in the industrial, hospitality, corporate, commercial, educational, urban housing, civic, medical markets and more. From a thumbnail sketch to 3-D animation, maa works with clients to tailor its extensive offering of in-house services.

Well versed in LEED certification, programming, urban planning, architectural design, space planning, interior and graphic design, construction documentation production, construction observation, 3-D visualization and facilities move coordination; maa is a one-stop shop for any number of architectural services.

“We’re a diversified firm and we work hard to maintain that diversity,” says Jerry Merriman, founder and president of maa. “Our home base is in Dallas, where we have 45 employees, but we have an office in Charlotte and Austin, as well.”

With three locations, multifaceted maa covers all 50 states and 10 foreign countries, emphasizing repeat clients as the heart of its practice and a close company culture. Since Merriman founded the firm in 1986, maa has grown in many directions, more recently in terms of LEED education and sustainable building.

LEEDing the charge

Maa began its push into the LEED market in the early 2000s, when Aimee Sanborn, AIA, LEED AP and sustainability director came on board. “I came on staff at maa in 2005 and I started to become more interested in green design,” she tells. “When I came out of grad school, it was still a relatively new concept; sustainability was talked about, but there wasn’t a lot of course work available. It didn’t develop into Merriman Associates / Architects Inc.a real curriculum until the last five years.”

After a great deal of research and self-education, Sanborn took the exam to become a LEED AP and made it official in 2006. “Shortly after my certification, Jerry and I had a conversation about how we could integrate LEED building into maa’s practice and really get our clients excited about it.”

At first, there was a lot of legwork to spread the word. “We started by giving more than 100 presentations on what LEED meant and how to implement it in a project and mainly, how it could deliver a return on investment for clients,” recounts Sanborn.

“We went in with the purpose being educational, not so much about sales and landing jobs,” adds Merriman. “Since, our LEED division has grown. Our LEED AP staff has grown tremendously over the last five years. It is a big and important part of what we are doing.”

With so much to say about LEED, Merriman admits the ironic thing when doing all of those original presentations to get the ball rolling, was maa had yet to complete a LEED-certified building. But the first one came shortly thereafter in 2007 and maa had been gaining ground in the market ever since.

Showcase projects

“For us the LEED market has been building momentum over the last five years and we’ve seen growing interest from our clients in implementing sustainable strategies,” shares Sanborn. Now, maa has a solid portfolio of various levels of LEED accreditation, including the historic Continental building in downtown Dallas.

“This historical building was converted into high-end multifamily residential use,” tells Sanborn. On May 14, 2014, Preservation Dallas awarded the Continental Building with a Preservation Achievement Award for the historic renovation, architectural services and LEED-Gold ceMerriman Associates / Architects Inc.rtification.

The firm also recently completed a LEED Silver turnaround at Bell Helicopter’s worldwide headquarters and employee center in Fort Worth, Texas. “Bell wanted to focus on revamping its facilities to attract young engineers and they really wanted to integrate sustainability initiatives,” Merriman. “The campus houses thousands of employees and the quality of the environment was a big point for Bell because it was something that had sort of fallen to the wayside over the years.”

In Richardson, Texas, the company worked with JPMorgan Chase Bank to deliver five LEED Silver certified projects. The company’s task for these projects included design and construction of new prototype retail banking centers. The firm’s design solutions included incorporation of new prototype banking equipment and new design concepts for JP Morgan Chase retail banking facilities.

As a registered member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), maa is looking beyond new LEED construction and to revitalize, reuse and repurpose older facilities into something extraordinary. “My favorite kind of projects is the adapted-reuse type where we get to change a building into something that will be of greater value to the public,” says Sanborn. “That’s the most fun and rewarding part of sustainable design.”

With more clients drawn to this idea, Merriman Associates/Architects offers all the services to drive LEED and sustainable development under one roof.

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