ALSC Architects

Specialty: Architectural design for athletic venues, educational, commercial, retail, others
Management: Rustin Hall, principal and CEO; Jeffrey J. Warner, principal and corporate secretary
Founded: 1948
Headquarters: Spokane
2010 revenues: N/A
Projected 2011 revenues: N/A
Employees: 56
Current projects: $17 million, 352-bed dorm for Eastern Washington University; $19.7 million, 80,000-square-foot Fairchild Air Force Base Fitness Center, a design-build project with Lydig Construction

Rendering courtesy of ALSC Architects
ALSC is designing the first new dorm at Eastern Washington University in 40 years. The 100,000-square-foot building should be ready for students in fall 2013.

Rustin Hall, CEO of ALSC Architects, said his firm has grown from 42 to 56 people in the last nine months after having a staff of 40 to 45 employees since 2005.

“We seem to be bucking the trend,” said Hall.

It helps that ALSC is in the right markets, he said. “We really didn’t intend to grow. We’re just in a number of markets that seem to be quite healthy.”

Government military projects (which ALSC has been doing for 25 years) as well as higher education, sports and recreation, and K-12 school projects have helped it be successful in the recession, he said.

ALSC, which also has an office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wants to get more work in private schools and universities, corporate projects and private development, he said.

Checking out boomers

In the recession, the firm relied heavily on existing clients and focused on networking “to figure out where the money is and where it’s going to be spent,” Hall said.

It is using outside research to help with business development and strategy. That includes looking at what baby boomers are going to be spending money on, so the firm will understand what type of buildings boomers will want to live in and what amenities (leisure, sports, recreations and the like) they expect in buildings.

“We haven’t normally had to do this, but it’s a new time, it’s a new age,” said Hall.

K-12 drops off

Hall said he’s not real concerned about cutbacks in government capital projects as it still needs to function at a basic level, and that will drive some work. “If I did nothing but government work I’d probably be concerned,” he said.

Hall said he expects some drop-off in K-12 projects because bond measures to finance that development are not being passed. But he said that may be temporary as a number of school districts in Washington are considering bond campaigns in the next couple of years and “they have high hopes they will pass.”

Hall declined to disclose the firm’s revenues except to say, “They definitely have come up this year.”

There was not much fluctuation in revenues in 2007, 2008 and 2009, he said. Last year’s revenues improved over each of those years, and it looks like 2011 will be better yet, he said.

Small guys hit hard

Hall said he is concerned that the state has cut back on funding of pre-design for capital projects in the next biennium.

“We’re so tied to construction and there’s so little construction going on,” he said.

The larger contractors seem to be holding their own but the mid-sized and smaller ones “have really been hit the hardest,” he said.

Hall said pre-design is but a small part of the overall cost of the project, and if government waits to do it, “it will delay everything again.”

“I am telling people right now that pre-design is so critical, dreaming is almost free.”

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