Chesapeake, situated in Virginia’s vibrant coastal area, is a city of significant cultural and historic value. As the second-most populous city in Virginia, it is home to beautiful natural attractions, historical landmarks, art galleries, museums, and the like to reflect its cultural richness. Being one of the fastest-growing communities with a ton to offer to residents and tourists, Chesapeake is a magnet for start-ups and growing businesses. To meet this thriving community of companies, talented commercial architects have flocked to Chesapeake over the past few years. These architects have highlighted many types of brands and market sectors in their portfolios.

This list features the leading architectural firms in the region, each providing the best architecture and designs for commercial buildings in Chesapeake. From their background, expertise, years in the business, and awards and recognitions, these architectural firms have been helping companies rebrand and grow their businesses for years.


DB3 Inc.

119 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704

When your architect is also the builder, your project becomes simple. Established in 2008, Virginia-based DB3 Inc. aims to do that–simplify your project by taking care of the designs and building. A professional architecture and commercial construction firm, DB3 Inc. has been executing hundreds of projects and gaining a strong reputation throughout the years. The firm’s president, Bud Leary, brings more than thirty years of experience to the table. The DB3 team is also made up of certified architects and general contractors with decades of hands-on expertise.

The firm’s range of technical knowledge provides its clients with a plethora of project design and construction solutions. This featured project is a great example of DB3 Inc’s capabilities of fulfilling a client’s concept to completion. The Factory Outlet incorporates a contemporary yet retrospective theme to grace the urban landscape and fit seamlessly with its environment. This project is among the many “outside the box” solutions that the firm offers to a variety of clients.


Dills Architects

1432 N. Great Neck Rd. #204, Virginia Beach, VA 23454

Dills Architects, founded in 1983, is a company of architects, planners, and designers with a collective focus on civic and cultural projects. Its work and client service are motivated by a shared attitude of responsible stewardship in order to better integrate the design and construction of a sustainable and livable environment.

Clay Dills, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the firm’s design owner, enforces sustainable approaches to the firm’s projects, especially in the commercial area. Corporate settings, hotels, medical office buildings, and mixed-use complexes are examples of its commercial work. Dill Architects fully comprehends each client’s identity and goals for its commercial buildings. The firm also infuses its mission and values into every design it produces. As a result, the firm creates fully efficient and inspirational spaces that reflect working environments and commercial solutions. One example of the firm’s completed work is the Esoteric Craft Beer & Curated Provisions shown here.


WTG Design Architects 

860 Greenbrier Circle Suite 412 Tower 1, Chesapeake, VA 23320

Since its inception in 1994, WTG Design Architects has been an innovative and dynamic architectural practice based in Virginia’s Hampton Roads. The firm is a full-service architectural practice that retains engineering consultants as needed for each project. The company is based in the greenbrier part of Chesapeake, Virginia, with affiliated members in Washington, DC, Atlanta, Georgia, and more. Wendell Green (AIA) is the principal architect of the firm who leads the firm in conceptualizing design processes and listening to clients’ requirements and visions. With over 45 years of architectural experience, Wendell has led the firm to be recognized in the region. Inform Architecture and Design Magazine have both featured the firm’s growing portfolio. 

WTG Design Architects is dedicated to producing high-quality design and construction, and its portfolio reflects just that, especially in the commercial sector. This featured commercial project is the Inmotion Physical Therapy Sports Performance Center located in Virginia Beach. The firm designed a full-service therapeutic and sports center that serves players, teams, and people. The firm included an Olympic-sized skating rink, cardiovascular stations, weight lifting stations, free weights, and treatment rooms—covering about 48,000 square feet.


Covington Hendrix Anderson Architects

360 Southport Circle Suite 104, Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Established in 1998, Covington Hendrix Anderson Architects is an architectural firm with extensive reach and experience with projects in the commercial and residential areas. This firm is licensed in several states around the country while being involved with a diverse variety of projects in the municipal, commercial, and public sectors. Leading the firms are principal architects Jonathan Covington and Christopher Hendrix. Both architects are members of the AIA, with Hendrix being a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) certified architect. These two architects have led the firm to bring excellent architecture and design to the whole country for more than 45 years.

The firm’s principal architects have over 75 years of combined expertise in architectural design, as well as actual construction experience. The team’s objective is to have a positive impact on the built environment and to create ideas that are both creative and inspirational while also keeping the clients’ budgets in mind. Because of its commitment to technology and training, the firm is able to generate high-quality designs and documentation in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner. This featured project, the Atlantic Bay Mortgage, is located in Virginia Beach, VA, and reflects the firm’s capabilities.


Ionic DeZign Studios

293 Independence Blvd. Building 5 Suite 308, Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Since its establishment in 1999, Ionic DeZign Studios has worked on a wide range of projects, both large and small, prioritizing close collaboration with clients. At this firm, architecture is all about the vision, and its designers are well-versed in the technologies that can assist clients in visualizing their projects. At the helm of the firm is D. Eugene Thompson, AIA. Eugene has distinguished himself in the community as an artist, teacher, and architect while being the founder of Ionic DeZign Studios. He approaches architecture and design with a fresh perspective, allowing clients to be comfortable and confident in their design vision from the beginning. The firm uses everything from 3D rendering to video walk-throughs and even old-fashioned material boards to fully conceptualize this. 

With more than 800 projects completed in 20 states, the firm’s portfolio reflects an extensive yet remarkable range of designs. This featured project is a commercial interior design of the GoldKey Resorts sales area. The area was roughly 3,700 square feet and was located on the third floor of an oceanfront hotel. The entire east wall had a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the space’s complicated form, a 2D graphic to depict the wall, ceiling, and floor modifications would have been too difficult to read. The firm created model renderings to correctly depict the new materials and finishes. Bright wall coverings and paint updated the overall appearance of the room. The renovation was finished with new furnishings and GoldKey Resorts brand signs.


The Design Collaborative

424 W. 21st Street, Norfolk, VA 23517

The Design Collaborative in Norfolk, Virginia, was founded in 1976 to provide complete architectural and design services to local and regional clients. Headed by Richard Fitt (AIA, LEED AP) & Edward Lazaron (AIA, LEED AP), the firm actively involves itself in every project from start to finish to fully bring a client’s vision to life. For 46 years, The Design Collaborative has been offering a comprehensive range of services based on the needs of each project. Southside Daily Publication, Virginian Pilot, and Op-Ed News are among the many publications that featured the firm’s remarkable designs and architecture. The firm is also a holder of two Design Awards from the City of Virginia Beach, received in 2017 and 2012. 

The Design Collaborative has an extensive portfolio that exhibits its commitment to sustainable practices, from solar projects to green buildings. On the other hand, its commercial projects include a wide range of retail malls, offices, mixed-use buildings, and auto dealerships. One of its commercial buildings is the Pier Shops at 15th. This 70,000-square-foot and two-story shopping complex is located on Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach’s beachfront tourist district. The Pier Shops are located right across the street from the famous steel fishing pier. The Virginia Beach Planning Commission honored Pier Shops at 15th with an Honor Award for Commercial Development.


GARC

501 E. Main St. 16th Floor, Norfolk VA, 23510

Comprehensive design solutions that include architecture, interior design, and landscape design can make any client’s life easier. This is what GARC is dedicated to since its establishment in Norfolk, Virginia in 2015. GARC has a worldwide reputation of work that includes the United States, Southeast Asia, and China as an award-winning architectural firm. Inside Business in 2020 has featured the firm’s excellent designs. These designs have garnered the firm several awards, including the recent ones, the 2020 Best Recreation/Entertainment/Hospitality Project Merit Award by HRACRE and the 2020 Design Awards by AIA Virginia. 

Principal Architect Yang Tian (AIA, RIBA, LEED AP) brings over 15 years of work experience in China and the U.S. in the fields of planning and architecture. He has extensive expertise in research-oriented design techniques, and his award-winning designs have appeared in prestigious architectural publications. Yang’s professional experience assists in broadening the range of the firm’s services. This featured commercial project is one of the many projects that the firm has successfully designed to meet client expectations. The Care More Movers project is naturally split into two zones that run parallel to each other. GARC redesigned the space, successfully representing the business as more than just a conventional moving supplies store.


Cox, Kliewer & Company, P.C.

2533 Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Cox, Kliewer & Company, P.C. was founded in 1984 and had been providing architectural and interior design services for more than 30 years. The Commonwealth of Virginia has designated the firm a SWAM small company. One of its leading and founding architects, Gerald Cox, continues to play an active part in the firm’s construction documentation and administration. Mr. Cox is still looking for fresh building experiences while encouraging his team to experiment with new ways rather than relying on tried-and-true “standards.” 

To the firm, buildings should be more than merely massive shells that appeal to bystanders. Buildings should provide maximal developed interior areas that offer the most operational flexibility. A great example of this is the firm’s interior take on Taste Unlimited. For this local specialized gourmet wine shop chain, the firm’s work included interior design and retail layout. It also includes outside signs, lighting, and the wraparound trademark awning, as well as new color standards that poured fresh life into the old sites.


Retnauer Baynes Associates

432 Battlefield Blvd. Suite #101, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Formed in 2001, Retnauer Baynes Associates (RBA) has been an award-winning architectural firm tackling design, BIM, and visualizations in Chesapeake, Virginia. Principal architects Sandra Baynes, together with Thomas Retnauer, enforces an enthusiastic approach to its projects, as demonstrated by its continuous delivery of high-quality products. RBA has established itself as a leader in the Hampton Roads Area Design Arena during the last three decades, earning numerous honors for a range of projects, including The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Chesapeake Small Business of the Year Award in  2016. Virginian Pilot and Richmond BizSense have also featured the firm’s excellent designs. 

RBA provides a wide range of professional services in a variety of building types, including but not limited to residential, commercial, multi-family, government, and religious structures. In the commercial section of the firm’s portfolio, Oakbrooke is one of the many projects that stand out. The concept for Oakbrooke, Chesapeake’s 120-acre Business and Technology Center, was established by this medical and professional office project. The cutting-edge facility was designed with client flexibility in mind, with floor layouts ranging from 1,500 to 7,500 square feet. RBA used contemporary materials and unique color schemes for this structure to reflect the cutting-edge technology found within.


HBA Architecture & Interior Design

One Columbus Center Suite 1000, Virginia Beach, VA 23462

In 1974, William Hargrove (AIA) envisioned an institution that aimed to deliver solutions and concepts that benefited not just a client’s business but the community and environment as a whole. In order to meet that objective, HBA Architecture & Interior Design, Inc. (HBA) founded itself on the ideals of honesty and quality. HBA has been pursuing these aims since then, which have earned it a well-respected reputation throughout the area. Besides founding and building up the firm, William Hargrove has also been serving the community in various ways for over 45 years, including serving on several City boards and committees. With his passion for serving, his vision and innovation, the firm has been able to thrive and receive honors such as the 2019 Merit Award in the Sustainable Development Category by the Virginia Beach Planning Commission. 

HBA’s extensive portfolio reflects its nature as an industry pillar in southeastern Virginia for almost fifty years. One of its commercial projects, the Children’s Museum of Virginia, is located in Downtown Portsmouth, Virginia. This remarkable renovation of a beloved local museum lends color, vitality, and enthusiasm to everything around it, both inside and out. The lobby’s all-glass curtain wall creates a welcoming visual link between the pedestrian mall, the High Street sidewalk, and the lobby. As visitors make their way to the entryway, the external restorations and site enhancements offer a much more visible entry point and further the museum experience.


Dewberry

295 Bendix Road Suite 100, Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Dewberry is a nationwide business of planning, design, and construction experts. Since its establishment in 1956, it has been a market-leading firm with a track record of offering professional services to a diverse range of public and private sectors. For people who own, operate, and manage natural and built ecosystems, Dewberry can expertly provide responsible and creative solutions. Donald E. Stone, one of the leading architects, guides the firm to uphold long-term partnerships while fulfilling and exceeding its clients’ goals. Virginia Business, ES Magazine, Patch, and ACHR News are few of the several publications that recognize the firm’s remarkable designs. 

Dewberry’s portfolio exhibits its wide range of expertise, from federal and transportation projects to real estate and commercial development. This featured commercial building is part of the 20+ community coffee house projects located throughout the state of California. The coffee shops’ design focuses on providing areas where people may socialize, work, and relax. The Philz Coffee stores are customized to provide a unique client experience, and no two are similar, each having its own finishes and furniture. Every collaboration and subsequent design aims to blend in with the community it serves.


RRMM Architects

1317 Executive Boulevard Suite 200, Chesapeake, VA 23320

RRMM Architects has been a prominent and progressive design business since 1988, providing architectural, design construction, interior design, and planning services. Schools, public safety buildings, secure federal facilities, higher education facilities, retail establishments, and homes are just a few of the projects the business has worked on. Licensed in 49 different states, the firm has actively strived to build spaces that seamlessly fit into its communities and environment. Principals Duane Harver and Donna Elliott encourage building personal relationships with the firm’s clients while also empowering its team through creative practices. The firm has received numerous awards in its recent years, including the VSBA’s Exhibition of School Architecture’s Gold Design Award in 2018. 

By merging the Architect’s vision and the Contractor’s attention to cost and detail into a single body, the firm offers a successful yet simplified approach to design and construction. RRMM Architects’ portfolio showcases the firm’s expertise in designing projects, especially in the education sector. The firm has also done design work for a variety of national brands and stores, such as DTLR and Le Creuset. RRMM Architects has built over 5,000 new and refurbished shops in 48 states, with sizes ranging from 3,000 to over 15,000 square feet. This featured project has been designed by the firm for the Dollar Tree Brand Store, which the firm has been helping conceptualize and construct for the past 25 years.


Work Program Architects

400 Granby St. Suite 301, Norfolk, VA 23510

Formed in 2010 by Mel Price and Thom White, Work Program Architects (WPA) has been empowering communities through a holistic design process. The firm’s open studio atmosphere fosters cooperation between employees, clients, consultants, and the community. WPA is made up of experts in architecture, industrial design, urban planning, graphic design, manufacturing, modeling, and project management, among other fields. Buildings, communities, and urban environments are created through the relationships the firm develops with its clients and the community. WPA has received numerous awards for this approach, including a 2020 Award for Distinguished Achievement from AIA Virginia.

WPA focuses on educational and municipal projects, civic landmarks, centers of business, and more. The firm’s multidisciplinary design methodology enables them to create spaces that are distinctive to its surroundings. A prime example of this is the firm’s take on a COVA Brewing Company project. For this project, the firm lowered 18-foot bays to 8-foot bays, and used glass garage doors to bring in natural light. The back doors allow for easy equipment movement, while the front doors provide for a smooth transition between the inside and external spaces. The interiors are clean, modern, and coastal-friendly, with warm wood accents.


Clark Nexsen

4525 Main Street Suite 1400, Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Started in 1920 providing architectural services for civic and education clients, Clark Nexsen has evolved into a fully integrated architecture and engineering firm serving clients in more than a dozen markets. With nearly 400 employees and eleven offices, Clark Nexsen has established a reputation for design excellence and outstanding client service. Engineering News-Record, the Virginian-Pilot, Retrofit magazine, and Archinect have featured the firm and their work. Principals Paul Battaglia, AIA, and Chad Poultney, PE, lead the firm’s commercial practice out of their Virginia Beach office location.

For more than a century, Clark Nexsen has been delivering innovative design solutions for U.S. and global clients. The firm’s design professionals in its commercial business strive to create vibrant office and mixed-use environments that actively engage the community. This featured project is HQ3 for Ferguson Enterprises in Newport News, Virginia. Located in City Center at Oyster Point, HQ3 is the start of a new modern campus designed to attract professionals who want to work in an urban setting. The new headquarters boasts a variety of flex workspaces – including some private offices and many different types of collaboration and training spaces. HQ3 was designed with a large sixth-floor terrace where employees can work outdoors under a green rooftop. With ongoing health concerns due to the Covid pandemic, outdoor workspaces are among the most coveted in commercial facilities right now.


Woolpert

676 Independence Parkway Suite 100, Chesapeake, VA 23320

Woolpert was founded in 1911 with the goal of becoming the nation’s leading architecture, engineering, and geospatial (AEG) business and one of the greatest firms. The firm has been honing this concept for decades. For 110 years, the firm has delivered hundreds of ideal solutions for its clients and unparalleled possibilities for its staff. xyHt magazine, Lidar Magazine, and ENR Magazine are among the many publications that feature America’s fastest-growing AEG business. Scott Catran, the firm’s current CEO, is a senior executive with a track record of building high-performing teams to achieve excellent results. Woolpert’s in-house integration of AEG services results in unique and dependable solutions to our clients’ challenging problems. With over 30 awards from local and global regions, including the 2020 Cincinnati Design Award for Landscape Architecture and Community Planning, the firm distinguishes itself from other competitions. 

Woolpert services public, private, federal, and military clients domestically and internationally, with more than a century of expertise, close to 1,000 employees, and 30 offices. The firm possesses the knowledge and resources to see a project through from start to finish by using cutting-edge technology to maximize the potential of design concepts. This featured project is a redevelopment of a Westgate Village Shopping Retail Center, whose new architecture was meant to complement the 60-year-old shopping center. Two new 8,000-square-foot multi-tenant buildings were built to replace two eateries that were destroyed as part of the design. The Woolpert team developed the retail buildings’ architectural, MEP, and structural engineering, which would later include the AT&T, Wing Stop, Macs n’ Melts, Piada, Sport Clips, Blaze Pizza, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in the final construction.

Author

  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at General Contractors with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at General Contractors, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights. Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson Education: Arizona State University - Bachelors in Business Administration