College of Pharmacy Update, BSA LifeStructures Grows, HOK and the Downs and Ups of Arcturis

College of Pharmacy – According to WhoLou sources close to the project Paric Corporation has started pre-construction work on the proposed St. Louis College of Pharmacy renovation and expansion. Cannon Design is alleged to be architect for the project which is expected to be completed in two years.

WhoLou sources have previously estimated the project could be as high as $100 million though the consensus opinion currently seems to be somewhere between $60 and $70 million. Since the college is situated within the crowded Central West End medical corridor demolition of existing buildings is expected. In their place will rise several new structures, some of which will be more than seven stories in height according to sources. 

In June the college announced plans to extend its doctoral program from six to seven years beginning in 2014. According to the school website approximately 72% of St. Louis-area pharmacists are St. Louis College of Pharmacy graduates. WhoLou first broke this story in September.

BSA LifeStructures – Since June of 2010 the Clayton BSA LifeStructures office has grown from one person to currently employing a staff of thirty and, according to WhoLou sources, intends on doing more hiring. The Indianapolis-based architecture and planning firm also has offices in Austin, TX and Chicago, IL employing 260 planners, architects, engineers, interior designers, laboratory planning specialists, and support staff. In 2008 the first St. Louis office was opened in Creve Couer by senior director Kevin Token who has overseen the growth. 

In 2010 BSA LifeStructures moved to a 3,000 sq ft office in the PNC Bank Building in Clayton. Then In 2011 the firm moved into a 10,000 sq ft space on the eleventh floor of the building which is managed by the Sansone Group. According to WhoLou sources BSA LifeStructures is currently adding new workstations and contemplating adding 3,000 to 4,500 sq ft of more space on the same floor. Recent hires of note include former Pansing Nolan Matlock principals Brian Pansing and Pat Nolan. Formerly based in Webster Groves Pansing Nolan Matlock focused on healthcare projects and staffed approximately 15 people before recently shuttering.

Sources further allege BSA LifeStructures is having record growth in revenue and profits and the St. Louis office is expected to hit the $10 million mark for 2013. Token has also allegedly been assisting the newly opened Austin branch regional director, Phil Scott, with hiring a staff and growing the office. According to WhoLou sources approximately 70% of the St. Louis office revenue comes from healthcare and the other 30% is from higher education/science and technology.

The majority of BSA LifeStructures St. Louis clients are within 100 miles of the area and include St. Louis University Hospital, BJC HealthCare, SSM HealthCare, Memorial Medical Center (Springfield, IL), Memorial Hospital (Belleville), Washington University School of Medicine, UMSL, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Monsanto, and Gallus BioPharmaceuticals.

When contacted for comment Token offered, “In my opinion, the reason for our rapid growth is based on excellent client service, a wide range of services offered, and a great reputation in the markets we serve."

Arcturis – Conversely, according to WhoLou sources, longtime leading local architecture and interior design firm Arcturis seems to be hitting a growth spurt and is hiring again after having to downsize over the last several years. Arcturis was founded in St. Louis in 1977 by the highly respected Pat Whitaker who built the firm from one person to employing a staff of nearly 200 (according to the Arcturis LinkedIn page) including more than 60 professionals at any given time in two St. Louis locations.

Sources allege that the firm currently employs between forty and fifty people total and recent executive defections from Arcturis include former chief operating officer Ron Johnson who joined Clayco subsidiary Forum Studio as associate principal of interior design in September and former principal of quality/risk management David Kehm who joined Christner Inc. as its director of operations in February of 2011.

However the firm seems far from dead and is providing architecture and design services for the Wells Fargo $33 million expansion. Arcturis was also architect of record for the recently completed $39 million 124,000 sq ft Wydown Middle School building in Clayton. The firm also recently hired an architect and designer in October.

Whitaker was unable to contact WhoLou for comment but sent an email explaining the situation from which these excerpts are taken.

Four years ago, at the start of the economic recession, as banks severely tightened their lending practices and clients put projects on hold, Arcturis reduced its staffing levels to accommodate project workload during this period. We were not alone. The American Institute of Architects estimates that more than 60,000 sector jobs were lost over the past four years.

In 2007, our peak employment was 132 employees; today we have 51, but we are once again growing. Most of our layoffs occurred in 2008 and 2009 at the peak of the recession. We recently hired six new staff and are looking to add two additional interior designers and another architect in the near future.

We have used this period to realign our strategic direction and restructure our management team. Arcturis remains one of the largest and most respected architectural and interior design firms in the region and we are confident that our success and our staff will continue to grow.

Patricia Whitaker, CEO – Arcturis

HOK – St. Louis-based giant HOK also hasn’t been immune to the hostile industry environment. WhoLou sources allege HOK has seen business drop off enough since the beginning of 2012 to have warranted laying off a number of employees. The firm, with exception to the St. Louis market, is also alleged to only be interested in pursuing jobs $30 million and up. 

An attempt to reach HOK for comment was unsuccessful Monday.