Enriching Communities through Inspired Design

Clark Patterson Lee
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) was founded in 1975, in Rochester, New York and began as a firm purely dedicated to civil engineering projects. In 1992, the company made the transition to a full-service architecture and engineering firm. It later expanded into a second office in the Hudson Valley and continues to grow. Presently, CPL consists of eleven offices across the eastern seaboard with concentrations in New York, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
In 2015, Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) celebrated its fortieth anniversary of world-class service and project delivery. Reaching this landmark represents the firm’s ability to adapt over time to withstand changes in the market and remain an industry leader.

CPL is currently in the process of undergoing another transition, this time regarding its leadership team. CPL founder Phillip Clark has made the decision to ease out of a leadership position, though he has agreed to serve as chairman of the board for another four years, at which point he will completely hand the reigns over to his new leadership team.

The company’s new leadership team will drive the next era of business development. “There are five of us that have come together to essentially form the management and leadership of the firm to secede Phil Clark,” explained Chief Executive Officer Todd Liebert. The five have served on the board for many years and offer extensive industry experience.

CPL is an innovative and dynamic firm that serves clients in education and higher education, healthcare, municipal architecture and engineering, transportation, as well as cultural or community projects like churches.

“We are focused on our five core business areas, which are academic, healthcare, transportation, municipal, and cultural. Some of the cultural community projects are more of a minor part of our revenue stream but still one that is important and that people have a lot of fun doing,” Liebert noted.

These markets do not just require; they demand the highest standards of quality and we achieve this through collaboration and innovative design. Whether CPL is being contracted for its architecture and design work, civil engineering, transportation engineering, buildings and structural engineering, municipal services and planning, or landscape architecture, it truly offers a complete spectrum of architecture and engineering services.

“As a full-service firm, we essentially offer all of the services necessary to build a city,” described Liebert. “It’s a full-service firm. We are not just architects and engineers; we are designers and technical specialists that work very closely together to develop our projects. We have mechanical, electrical, structural, interiors, and civil engineers in-house, so essentially we offer clients full-service operations.”

The team of industry leading multi-disciplinary professionals works to achieve outstanding project designs that build better communities. Consistent delivery of superior results is accomplished by understanding customers’ needs and each project’s requirements. Together, the team takes visions and turns them into realities while complying with timeline and budgetary constraints.

CPL’s work is seen throughout its portfolio. Of some of the high-profile education projects undertaken by the firm, notable examples include the State University of New York at Genesco Letchworth Dining Hall project and work at Rochester General Hospital.

At SUNY Geneseo, CPL was contracted by State University Construction Fund to complete the 38,000-square-foot, $14.5 million project. The project employed CPL’s architecture and building, as well as structural engineering services, and the clients were more than pleased with the results. The project won the National Association of College & University Food Services prestigious Gold medal for Residential Dining Concepts.

On the healthcare side of its work, several projects showcase CPL’s abilities. The Alamance Regional Medical Center addition and renovations in Burlington, North Carolina, was a $31.5 million project that included a 27,000-square-foot emergency department addition, a 16,000-square-foot surgery addition and the renovation of 42,500 additional square feet of space for Cone Health.

Likewise, CPL worked with LeChase Construction on the University Rochester Medicine’s new state-of-the-art building. The building will have a total of 90,000 square feet on three storeys and will be home to a new outpatient imaging center and the William and Mildred Levine Autism Center. This $28 million building will provide highly specialized patient care and is set for completion early 2017.

CPL was also part of the team that completed work on the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Genesee County, New York. This $2.342 million contract included infrastructure design, general engineering services, as well as sewer and water design, permitting and related engineering services.

Another showpiece was the $7 million New York State Biennial and Interim Bridge Inspection Region 5 contract in Buffalo, New York. CPL was involved in the inspection of two hundred bridges between 2014 and 2015. This project highlights that CPL can complete projects of any size and complexity in accordance with the highest standards.

Though its services cover a vast area, project management occurs on a localized level. CPL operates out of multiple offices but as a single entity working toward the betterment of the communities and the clients it serves. This unity serves as a major pillar of CPL’s corporate philosophy.

Liebert highlights a number of groups that operate within CPL to help it function as one. “We’ve got several groups within our organization that are responsible for keeping our technology up to date and enhancing collaboration. Being as spread out as we are, we want to ensure that it looks like one firm, not multiple firms. We have a Revit Committee. Revit is a platform that we use for our BIM, building information modeling. We use that across the firm to help us to maintain our standards as well as our technology – keeping it up to speed.”

“We made it a strategic initiative about five years ago to be one hundred percent BIM on our architectural projects. Civil engineering projects seem to be a little different, just based on the requirements of the owners,” said Liebert. The company must be in compliance with various standards at any one time.

CPL undertakes initiatives dedicated to fostering a positive work culture that helps stimulate quality output. As Liebert stated, “Our intentional culture is geared toward making us irresistible, helping to maintain the longevity of our staff. We have a core group that has been here for over twenty years, and many of us know that we are aging, and we are trying to add to that longevity by attracting younger talent.”

CPLwellness is a program that helps to reinforce this culture. There are also other initiatives like CPLworks for special projects and the CPLconnect young professionals group which offers the opportunity to network while simultaneously discovering new ways to make the company an even more attractive place to work.

“Groups like CPLwellness and CPLconnect,” Liebert explained, “help us to really understand what it is within our organization that makes us irresistible to our employees as well as our clients. And we work hard to create this intentional culture, and the best way you can do that is to engage our team at all levels.” He added that collaboration, integrity, ingenuity, inspiration, creativity, family, and fun all play a role in achieving a successful culture.

Moving forward, Liebert and the rest of the leadership team plan to expand the company’s presence in Georgia and the Carolinas by building capacity in the five core service areas CPL offers.

“The first goal,” Liebert acknowledges, “Is really to take the five core areas of expertise and really build that platform across the firm.” Although it already has a strong presence in New York State, it looks to expand its architectural and civil engineering presence, as well as its transportation services.

“Currently, we are very strong architecturally within North Carolina. We’re growing the engineering side with regards to civil and municipal engineering. So our initiatives are to try to growth within what we already offer, in the locations we are currently in, and build our platform that way,” he explained.

The long-term strategy, “is to strategically start to look at other marketplaces within the regions we’re in, potentially expanding into Ohio, Pennsylvania, certain parts of Virginia and possibly maybe even Tennessee, but those are long-term goals and we can’t allow those to be distractions.”

This growth approach positions the firm for further success in the future. As CPL’s reputation and impressive portfolio continues to grow, clients will continue to benefit from its professionalism, skill and ability to enrich communities through inspired design.



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