Soon after the principals at O'Neill Conrad Oppelt Architects started looking for new office space, they learned their compatriots at Alamo Architects were doing the same. The two San Antonio firms decided to jointly purchase two old warehouse buildings in the city's burgeoning Southtown area. With a bit of renovating and cleaning up, the structures made a perfect pair of offices connected by a landscaped courtyard.

“We share a lot of the same values,” says Mark Oppelt, AIA, referring to partner Mickey Conrad, AIA, and Alamo principals Mike Lanford, AIA, NCARB; Mike McGlone, AIA; Jerry Lammers, AIA, LEED AP; Irby Hightower, AIA; and Billy Lawrence, AIA. “We all designed the renovation together—it was a little bit like being back in design studio in school.”

The firms are applying for LEED Silver status for the year-old project. In addition to maximizing daylighting, using nontoxic finishes, and reusing materials from the existing building, they also installed a cistern that captures rainwater for irrigation. And the project's location just outside downtown San Antonio lends itself to low-impact commuting options, including biking, walking, and public transportation.