“The strength of Harrison Design’s structure is our clients get the experience of a boutique architecture firm, dealing with a principal and one or two members of a design team, that has the support and institutional knowledge of the larger organization,” says Greg Palmer, president.
The organizational framework of Harrison Design, with seven offices across the country, is to work as independent studios serving clients in various cities and regions, with a senior management team overseeing the overall firm.
For a number of years, the management team considered long-term succession plans for the company. In March 2021, just before the passing of founder Bill Harrison, the new structure was initiated, with the Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York and Florida offices rolled into one entity, along with Golden Isles as stand-alone office, and Santa Barbara and Los Angeles comprising its West Coast arm. The five-member, senior principals management team divided the responsibilities of overseeing those offices, along with the firm’s human resources and accounting divisions.
More than a year later, this structure has been highly successful and the management team has increased the number of principals throughout the firm. In May 2021, Bulent Baydar was appointed a principal and member of the management team, and Nic Charbonneau, Karen Ferguson, Betsy McBride, Emily Schickner and Alan Williamson were named principals. In January 2023, R. Derek Hopkins and Karissa Kizer were named principals.
Along with residential architecture, Harrison Design offers ecclesiastical and commercial design. The Atlanta, St. Simons, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara studios have interior design professionals and landscape architecture is provided in St. Simons, New York and Los Angeles.
In addition to the restructuring, the firm reviewed and enacted changes to employee benefits and protocols, giving the staff more flexibility in how they work, across-the-board pay raises, and additional vacation and personal time. “We want to offer a better place for people to work, understanding there’s a new way to work and not just following the market, but leading it,” noted Palmer.