Launch Slideshow

Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

word on the street, redux

last year's "lowdown on the downturn" firms revisited.

word on the street, redux

last year's "lowdown on the downturn" firms revisited.

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Reader & Swartz Architects

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

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    Reader & Swartz Architects

    Lake Holiday House, Cross Junction, Va., by Reader & Swartz Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Diversion Lake Camp, Medina, Texas, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Diversion Lake Camp, Medina, Texas, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Michael G. Imber Architects

    Diversion Lake Camp, Medina, Texas, by Michael G. Imber Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Turnberry Way Library, San Antonio, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Turnberry Way Library, San Antonio, by Michael G. Imber Architects

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    Michael G. Imber Architects

    Turnberry Way Library, San Antonio, by Michael G. Imber Architects
  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Vermont Cabin, Jamaica, Vt., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Vermont Cabin, Jamaica, Vt., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Resolution: 4 Architecture

    Vermont Cabin, Jamaica, Vt., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Long Beach Cottage, Long Beach, N.Y., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Long Beach Cottage, Long Beach, N.Y., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

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    Resolution: 4 Architecture

    Long Beach Cottage, Long Beach, N.Y., by Resolution: 4 Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Barboro Flats, Memphis, Tenn., by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Barboro Flats, Memphis, Tenn., by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    Barboro Flats, Memphis, Tenn., by Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Lugar Tower Apartments, Indianapolis, by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Lugar Tower Apartments, Indianapolis, by Looney Ricks Kiss

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    Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    Lugar Tower Apartments, Indianapolis, by Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Private Residence, Grand Rapids, Mich., by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Private Residence, Grand Rapids, Mich., by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Albertsson Hansen Architecture

    Private Residence, Grand Rapids, Mich., by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Guest Cabin, Michigan, by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Guest Cabin, Michigan, by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

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    Albertsson Hansen Architecture

    Guest Cabin, Michigan, by Albertsson Hansen Architecture

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    UC Davis West Village Square Mixed-Use, Davis, Calif., by Studio E Architects

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    UC Davis West Village Square Mixed-Use, Davis, Calif., by Studio E Architects

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    Studio E Architects

    UC Davis West Village Square Mixed-Use, Davis, Calif., by Studio E Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    90 Archer Affordable Housing, San Jose, Calif, by Studio E Architects

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    90 Archer Affordable Housing, San Jose, Calif, by Studio E Architects

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    Studio E Architects

    90 Archer Affordable Housing, San Jose, Calif., by Studio E Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    South Lincoln/10th and Osage Redevelopment, Denver, by Mithun

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    South Lincoln/10th and Osage Redevelopment, Denver, by Mithun

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    Mithun

    South Lincoln/10th and Osage Redevelopment, Denver, by Mithun

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Cabaña at Roanti Orchards and Vineyards, Glen Ellen, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Cabaña at Roanti Orchards and Vineyards, Glen Ellen, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Edward Caldwell Photography

    Cabaña at Roanti Orchards and Vineyards, Glen Ellen, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

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    Arkin Tilt Architects

    Tysen/Hunter Residences, Brisbane, Calif., by Arkin Tilt Architects

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    South Gilpin Townhomes, Denver, by Sprocket Design-Build

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    South Gilpin Townhomes, Denver, by Sprocket Design-Build

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    Portal Imageworks

    South Gilpin Townhomes, Denver, by Sprocket Design-Build

  • "Word on the Street" Architects' Recent Work

    Single-Family Residence, Chicago

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    Single-Family Residence, Chicago

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    Studio Dwell Architects

    Single-Family Residence, Chicago, by Studio Dwell Architects

 

j. carson looney, faia, and frank ricks, aia 
looney ricks kiss architects, memphis, tenn.


www.lrk.com

age of firm: 26 years
firm specialty: Planning, single-family production and custom, multifamily, mixed-use, commercial, and interiors
staff: 165 (2005); 240 at beginning of year, 146 at end (2008); 58 (2009); mid-40s (2010, projected)
total revenue: $27.1 million (2005); $33.5 million (2008); $15 million (2009); $5 million to $7 million (2010, projected)
completed projects: 303 (2005); 370 (2008); 250 (2009); Unknown (2010)

  • J. Carson Looney, FAIA, principal of Looney Ricks Kiss

    Credit: Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    J. Carson Looney, FAIA, principal of Looney Ricks Kiss Architects
  • Frank Ricks, AIA, managing principal of Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    Credit: Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

    Frank Ricks, AIA, managing principal of Looney Ricks Kiss Architects
2009 was a sobering year for Looney Ricks Kiss Architects (LRK), one that saw every custom-home client drop out, most of its private developer clients jump ship for lack of financing, and an unnerving rise in competition for public work. “We would walk into [an RFP] expecting five to seven firms, and there would be 58, including five firms from New York City, Boston, and even international, for a project in Jacksonville, Fla.,” principal J. Carson Looney, FAIA, recalls. “We learned that it all comes down to price or politics.”

Several large multifamily and mixed-use projects with previous funding in place paid some bills in 2009. But, says Looney, few of those developers can get similar projects funded today. The firm’s sinking prospects across the board forced the closure of two Florida offices, in Rosemary Beach and Jacksonville. That leaves key offices in Memphis, Princeton, and Celebration, with a small outpost each in Nashville, Tenn., and Baton Rouge, La., where “individuals remain available as we need assistance.”

With such steep declines, LRK filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. “The longevity of the decline and severity of the contraction has caused us to reduce the size of our firm to the point that the infrastructure we’d built in nine offices across the country was more than we could support at the current size,” says managing principal Frank Ricks, AIA. “We made the decision, while we still can, to work with our banker to reorganize so we could be sustainable in this new world we live in. We have every expectation of surviving, but we have to restructure financially to get our costs in line with the marketplace.”

Now for the good news. There are signs of life in planning (in the Southeast) and housing (nationwide), Looney says, adding that LRK has landed planning work in Central America that includes restoring environmentally sensitive sites. Some of the custom-home clients are also back in the game. But as he peers into his crystal ball, Looney sees little relief. “It is my hope that we see 2010 equaling 2009,” he says. “If we see an uptick, we’ll have smiles on our faces.”