Investor Spotlight: BDG Architects

February 23, 2023

BDG Architects, formed in 1994, is a 130+ person full service Architectural, Space Planning, Interior Design and Program Management practice providing creativity in design and production of architectural and interiors projects. Their headquarters is located in downtown Tampa, Florida in Rivergate Tower, with offices in Birmingham, Alabama, Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida and remote staff in Miami and Memphis. Licensed in 31 states, BDG Architects has built a reputation as thought leaders through design excellence, building lasting relationships, and delivering design solutions that are responsive to the changing marketplace.

Chris Kirschner, AIA – President, BDG Architects

Chris Kirschner is President of BDG Architects with over 30 years of experience in providing professional architecture services on a variety of project types including sport and entertainment venues, retail, commercial office, hospitality, multi-family, and mixed-use. He is well versed in development considerations including long range planning, finance strategies and incentives, LEED and WELL design certification, and facilities planning.

He obtained his Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame, where he spent a year in Rome, Italy studying urban planning, historic construction technology, and classical architectural theory. After founding BDG Architects in 2000, he has grown the company, including its subsidiary firms, to over 150 people and ten offices across the southeast.

1. In your view, what are your organization’s greatest opportunities for growth in the short term, and the longer term?

To begin with, we are blessed to have a large presence in Florida which provides us with natural opportunities for growth (rising tide raises all boats)! With that said, we recognize that certain sectors in Florida will outperform others in the near future and those include: retail, residential, hospitality, healthcare, state and local government and K-12 education. We also have offices in Charlotte and Birmingham which are experiencing market growth along with the rest of the sunbelt. Longer term plans include growing our capabilities in Healthcare and other specialized project types. In an effort to develop those capabilities we are proud to announce our recent partnership with CPL Architecture and Engineering. CPL has over 600 practitioners in 18 cities from New York to Atlanta with a focus on healthcare and life sciences.

2. There’s been so much development in Tampa Bay over the last few years, and even more planned for the near future. As an architect, what excites you most about the way Tampa is evolving with all of these transformational development projects?

I have been through many growth cycles in my 30+ years here. In the past, most growth was driven by regional players engaged in collective focus on a narrow market accelerated by the capital markets. As soon as any of the economic fundamentals changed the financing would disappear and the cycle would end quickly and painfully.

What is occurring now in no way reflects any of the past cycles. I believe it started gaining momentum about ten years ago with the announcement of the SPP/Cascade development plan for what is now Water Street. That brought national attention to our area and demonstrated that Tampa Bay was becoming the next great American city and you better get on board before you miss the opportunity to get in on the “value play”. After that, we witnessed one great development plan after the next in multiple market sectors including: healthcare, higher education, life sciences, technology, industrial and logistics, and of course, housing. What excites me the most about this growth is that it is being produced by a broad representation of world class developers with a variety of business strategies and diversity in their financing models and customers (building users). The organizations behind this growth are from across the globe and many are bringing development teams here from major markets accustomed to delivering large, complex projects. These projects are well capitalized and have shown no sign of weakness in the face of recent headwinds. Accordingly, I believe we will continue to see transformational environments being built across Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future.

3. Why do you feel it’s important for the local business community to continue to support economic development efforts?

Economic growth is the life blood that keeps local businesses and civic institutions healthy which in turn benefits the entire community. Status Quo is not an acceptable strategy for civic leaders responsible for the vitality of the community.

4. When you’re talking to friends or colleagues from outside the market, what do you tell them about the Tampa Bay area?

I tell them that the citizens of Tampa Bay are blessed to experience such an amazing environmental transformation and tremendous investment into our community. We also benefit from having numerous, visionary leaders in both the private sector and our civic institutions. Anything is possible in Tampa Bay now. No dream is too big. In the past, I would hear people lament the fact that their children were compelled to relocate to distant cities to begin their careers in order to obtain the experience they needed to advance themselves. We were hopeful that they would eventually return home to become the next generation of leadership in the community. Today, they needn’t go anywhere as they can pursue any path they choose with all the opportunities available to them in our growing community.