Home to many Fortune 500 companies as well as modern inventions such as the ski lift and the Reuben sandwich, Omaha is a key player in the U.S. economy. Its rich culture, marked by dozens of historic landmarks and renowned tourist destinations, also creates an environment where businesses thrive.
This list of the best commercial architects in Omaha includes some of the firms that have contributed to this diverse market. They are led by members and fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/FAIA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professionals (LEED AP) and Building Design + Construction (BD+C)-certified principals, as well as a few recipients of the AIA Nebraska Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architectural Excellence and inductees into the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (FRAIA/RAIA).
George Haecker Architect
Tall radius windows line the street-side façade of gourmet restaurant Market Basket’s Loveland Shopping Center location. Subtle hues of mint green and canary yellow coat the walls of the rustic interior. Wood slats and pin lights line the ceiling, illuminating the dining area along with larger drop lamps and a chandelier near the entrance. The bar is accentuated by striped black and white tiles. This playful mix of colors and textures matches its impressive menu of entrées, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods.
The restaurant was designed by George Haecker Architect. Haecker worked with firms in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and New York before starting out in Omaha’s architectural industry in 1971. He went on to receive the Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal for Architectural Excellence from AIA Nebraska in 2007. He later launched his independent practice in 2018. Learn more about them at georgehaecker.com
The Architectural Offices
4610 Dodge St., Omaha, NE 68132
Winner of the 2014 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, Legend Comics & Coffee tapped The Architectural Offices (AO) to design its new space. In order to help its graphic novel selection reach a broader audience, the retail area was expanded to create three times more space for new comics, as well as 40 percent more space for archived comics and almost double the original space for trade books. This expansion also allowed for the introduction of a new coffee shop. The open plan of the brick red and charcoal motif space is also designed to accommodate gaming events, workshops, trivia nights, poetry readings, book signings, open mics, and other community engagement activities.
AO has been serving Omaha since 1981. The collaborative team of professionals is led by Managing Principal Randall Palandri, AIA, NCARB. He is joined by fellow University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) alumni Principals Joseph Saniuk, AIA, LEED AP, and William Stott, AIA, as well as Kansas State University Architecture alumnus Bryan Zimmer, AIA, who each have over three decades of experience in the industry.
3337 N. 107th St., Omaha, NE 68134
Specialty photo retailer Rockbrook Camera’s location at Legacy follows a distinct composition, much like the photos its customers are likely to take. A wood canopy hangs above the stained concrete path leading into the store, anchored by a stone-clad column at its center and a slanted pole on one corner, resembling a tree in a forest. Terrazzo tiles and wood insets subtly continue the nature theme in the bright, high-ceiling interior. Window walls around the structure let natural light in during the day.
The space was designed by Avant Architects, a firm that has been designing throughout Nebraska since 1988. Founding Principal Lori Krejci, AIA, continues to lead the team as it serves the commercial, retail, healthcare, and multifamily markets. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Architecture from UNL and has served on the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects. She currently sits on the AIA Committee on Design.
Steven Ginn Architects
6173 Center St., Omaha, NE 68106
Omaha native Steven Ginn, AIA, NCARB, earned his bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Kansas and his master’s from Washington University in St. Louis. Before starting Steven Ginn Architects (SGA) in 2005, he traveled the world to learn more about indigenous architecture across Africa, Asia, and Europe, spending some time assisting in the design and restoration of castle estate houses in Italy. These influences go into his work with the firm, whether it’s a commercial, institutional, or residential project, traditional or contemporary.
SGA designed the 12,268-square-foot Approach Climbing Gym. The first of its kind in Nebraska, the gym features vibrant colored walls for climbers of all ages, visible from the street through broad glass walls. The reception desk itself mimics an incline as it welcomes customers and also houses space for equipment return and the snack bar.
2922 N. 61st St. Studio 1, Omaha, NE 68104
Chris Houston, AIA, LEED AP, Rebecca Harding, AIA, LEED AP, and Jeff Dolezal, AIA, LEED AP founded TACKarchitects in 2011 to design spaces that respond to the changing environment, much like a sailboat tacks when the winds change. Houston, Harding, and Dolezal each bring over two decades of experience to leading the team as it designs high-end residential, commercial, and cultural projects throughout the Midwest.
Winner of the 2020 International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Excellence in Interior Design Award and the 2020 AIA Nebraska People Choice Award for Masonry, TACKarchitects’ design for Taco Co.’s Benson location features an interior as colorful as the ingredients to its handmade tacos. Weave drop lamps hang from the exposed wooden rafters. Metal beams and patterned concrete dividers frame the different seating areas: benches along the green and brick walls, booths towards the center, and even a hanging bench seat — all featuring bright rainbow-colored pillows. A mural of abuela Maria Sanchez, who inspired the restaurant, hangs opposite the LED-lit bar. A hefty vault door leads to the restroom. The firm’s thoughtful, colorful design powerfully enhanced the experience at Taco Co.
1015 N 98th St. Ste. 300, Omaha, NE 68114
A merger of two firms serving Omaha as early as 1976, BCDM is now a collaborative environment of 28 design professionals — architects, interior designers, and structural engineers. Founding Principals Jim Dennell, AIA, NCARB, and Bob Mabrey, AIA, NCARB, continue to lead this team. Dennell draws on 39 years of designing educational and religious facilities and beyond as he serves as the firm’s president. Mabrey serves as director of architecture and also brings over 42 years of experience in the master planning and technical development of education and religious spaces.
The DJ Sokol Learning for Life Building marries these two lines of expertise. Built on the same axis as the Mount Michael Benedictine School chapel, the structure is coated in precast concrete and brick to match. Five arches tower over the pathway into the building, bearing inscriptions of the Benedictine values of service, community, hospitality, moderation, and integrity. The study hall in the north classroom wing also functions as the school’s FEMA-rated storm shelter.
3624 Farnam St., Omaha, NE 68131
Slate Architecture transformed an old sporting goods store into Goodwill Omaha’s retail location, funding job training and placement services for people with disabilities and other barriers. The store includes approximately 15,000 to 18,000 square feet of sales floor space, a 5,000-square-foot back room and sorting area, 1,200 square feet for the GoodBytes technology reuse wing, and a new donation and drop-off canopy.
Slate Architecture has been designing for the Midwest and the Northwest since 1997, with an office in Omaha, Nebraska and one in Helena, Montana. Montana State University (MSU) Architecture alumnus Dwayne Brown, AIA, NCARB, is a founding principal of the firm and has been designing since 1985. Fellow MSU alumnus and Principal Scott Cromwell, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, joined the firm in 2007 and brings over 25 years of experience to his role. They lead a team of fellow AIA architects in designing for clients in the commercial, education, federal, healthcare, hospitality, mixed-use, multi-family, and municipal markets.
Carlson West Povondra Architects
5060 Dodge St., Omaha, NE 68132
Carlson West Povondra Architects (CWPA) designed Baxter Volkswagen Omaha to remain true to the Volkswagen brand characterized by a minimalist European design with a touch of color. Glass walls allow the old world charm of the cars to take center stage amid a clean, neutral palette interior adorned with mementos from VW’s eclectic history. The showroom sits close to the street, showcasing the latest models and branded merchandise in a simple landscape throughout the property.
This project is one of many car dealerships CWPA has worked on throughout its 30+ years serving Nebraska. Principals Al Povondra, AIA, LEED AP, Mike West, AIA, LEED AP, and Bob Soukup, AIA, LEED AP, lead the team of fellow AIA architects in designing commercial, educational, municipal, justice, public safety, recreational, healthcare, and senior and supportive housing spaces throughout the state.
901 Jones St., Omaha, NE 68102
Homegrown Nebraska coffee-chain Scooter’s Coffee tapped BVH Architecture to design its new corporate headquarters in Omaha. The firm knocked down the mezzanine floor of the existing building to allow natural light into the center of the 12,000-square-foot ground-floor office space. This also opened up the area for town hall meetings, with a glass garage door bridging the conference room to this space for larger gatherings. An inverted coffee bean funnel-inspired sound baffle tops an additional meeting room, wrapped in fabric in the brand’s signature red. Bench seats, open workstations, and phone booths accommodate all sorts of work tasks. The 75,000-square-foot complex also includes coffee and bakery production areas and warehouse space.
BVH has been designing dynamic spaces such as this since 1968. Today, it is led by AIA Principals Mark Bacon — a 2021 Young Architect Awardee — Dennis Coudriet, Cleveland Reeves, and Corey Wieseman, who each bring a deep passion for architecture to collaborating with the rest of the team on commercial, corporate, cultural, education, historic preservation, and multifamily projects. Today, 2019 Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal Awardee Dan Worth, FAIA, and Gary Bowen, FAIA, serve as Principal Emeriti.
Holland Basham Architects
119 S 49th Ave., Omaha, NE 68132
Tim Holland, AIA, LEED AP, and J. Keith Basham, AIA, LEED AP, have been designing corporate spaces, education facilities, mixed-use developments, multi-family housing, healthcare facilities, and industrial spaces together at Holland Basham Architects (HBA) since 1989. They lead a team of fellow AIA and LEED AP architects who bring diverse experiences and technical expertise to designing beautiful and functional spaces. The firm now has two offices in Omaha and Denver.
What was once a stretch of underutilized parking lots and vacant office buildings was transformed into the Midtown Crossing mixed-use property at Turner Park. HBA designed the $325 million development that now serves as a gateway to the Midtown neighborhood. It totals 1,000,000 square feet, with 223,000 square feet of retail, dining, and entertainment space. Seven buildings comprise the LEED-certified complex, including the 132-room Element Hotel, the five-screen Marcus Theaters movie theater with in-seat dining, 500 condominium and apartment units, and parking for more than 3,000 vehicles.
Sinclair Hille Architects
700 Q St., Lincoln, NE 68508
Sinclair Hille Architects has been designing living, working, and learning spaces in Nebraska since 1981. Now helmed by AIA and LEED AP Principals Liz Bavitz, Dan Grasso, John Kay, Michael Penn, and David Quade, who each bring over 25 years of industry experience, the firm has earned a reputation for marrying strong project management skills with creative design. It has received multiple honors from AIA Nebraska through the years.
Sinclair Hille designed 100,000 square feet each of retail, commercial, and residential space for the West Haymarket development, part of an eight-block expansion of Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District. This includes The Railyard, a three-story entertainment district surrounding the public plaza, the Canopy Lofts, a six-story mixed-use building with 72 loft-style apartment units and ground-floor retail space, and Hobson Place, a seven-story mixed-use building with 111 hotel rooms and 29 luxury condominium units.
LEO A DALY
8600 Indian Hills Dr., Omaha, NE 68114
Founded in 1915, LEO A DALY has grown to have an international presence, with projects in more than 91 countries. Chairman and CEO Leo A. Daly III, FAIA, RIBA, FRAIA, represents the third generation of leadership in the firm and is multi-decorated internationally. Serving as president is Steven Lichtenberger, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, bringing more than 40 years of experience designing for a wide range of industries. Leading the Omaha studio is Vice President and Managing Principal Christopher Johnson, AIA, LEED AP, whose over three decades in the industry includes a term as president of AIA Omaha.
LEO A DALY designed The Capitol District in downtown Omaha. The 5.4-acre mixed-use development features dining, shopping, and entertainment options wrapped around a modern town square. The property also includes the 333-guest room Omaha Marriott Downtown Capitol District hotel, a 218-unit luxury apartment building with 19,000 square feet of retail space, and a 505-stall parking garage.
Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture
1516 Cuming St., Omaha, NE 68102
First opened in 1925, the Dundee Theater has been restored to its former glory, along with the addition of a new 25-seat microcinema. Bright blue coats the walls of the main 300-seater cinema in an homage to the original theater. A small book and video store was also added to the space, as well as a full-service restaurant with bar, two and four-seater, and couch seating options for pre-film and post-film conversations.
This 13,871-square-foot gut renovation and expansion was designed by Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture (APMA). What began in a spare bedroom in 1987 now operates out of two offices in Omaha, Nebraska and Red Oak, Iowa. Founders Michael Alley, AIA, NCARB, and Albert Macchietto, AIA, NCARB, remain as principals of the firm, each continuing over three decades of award-winning work. The 2016 Harry F. Cunningham Gold Medal recipient Perry Poyner has retired from APMA, but the firm continues the community-focused work he pioneered. Stuart Poyner joins the firm as partner, following over a decade of hands-on construction experience, which he now brings to align the design and construction teams.
RDG Planning & Design
1302 Howard St., Omaha, NE 68102
Winner of the 2017 AIA Central States Region Honor Award for Excellence in Interior Architecture, design for Omaha, Nebraska-based branding, marketing, and advertising firm Ervin & Smith’s headquarters creates a dynamic and collaborative space. A mix of private enclosed offices, open cafe style areas, and casual booths for both individual workers and group collaborations line the 10,450-SF space. The neutral palette and industrial feel of the office set the stage for bold creative ideas to come alive, with exposed ceilings, painted white and gray textiles, raw steel details, subtly whitewashed plywood, and touches of teal coating the interior.
RDG Planning & Design, the firm behind this award-winning design, has received multiple honors from the AIA since its inception in 1965. The firm and its diverse group of designers and planners serve clients in a range of markets, including corporate, education, government and public safety, healthcare, parks and recreation, senior living, sports and worship. RDG serves clients across the country from its offices in Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.
6457 Frances Suite 200, Omaha, NE 68106
With the largest cat complex in North America, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, and some of the world’s largest indoor rainforests and deserts, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is considered one of the premier zoos in the world. DLR Group designed the zoo’s education building, where students can learn more about the animals and ecosystems around them. The 42,000-square-foot building is intimately connected to the outdoors through window walls and a large outdoor adventure area with multiple play centers mimicking different natural animal habitats. An interactive lab facilitates learning for students from pre-K to Grades 11-12 and is equipped with retractable seating and electronic shades for experience simulations.
Designing since 1966, DLR Group’s 1,200-strong team has a global reach, with offices as far away as Dubai and Shanghai. CEO Griff Davenport, FAIA, joined the team in 1980, straight from earning his Architecture degree from UNL. He established the Minneapolis office before becoming Managing Principal in 2005. Fellow UNL alumnus Charles Dalluge joins him as President and COO, bringing over 30 years of design and management experience with other firms to his role. Engineering News-Record California & Northwest named DLR Group its 2021 Design Firm of the Year. The firm has earned numerous other awards through the years, including the AIA Nebraska Excellence in Design Award for another landmark project, the CHI Health Center Omaha.