Detroit — SmithGroup (formerly SmithGroupJJR) announced a renewed mission to “Design a Better Future.” In keeping with this mission, the 165-year-old integrated design firm has introduced a new visual identity and a simplification of its name.
“It is time to change how we represent ourselves to better communicate to the world the values and vision of our firm,” said Mike Medici, President and Managing Partner, SmithGroup. “SmithGroup has grown exponentially over the last decade, offering more services in more markets across more geographies than ever before. Simultaneously, the building industry and our clients’ own industries have experienced rapid advancement and disruption. We are redefining the SmithGroup brand to ensure our continued success.”
SmithGroup is realigning the firm’s vision, purpose and values under the promise to Design a Better Future. In fulfilment of this promise, SmithGroup is committed to achieving four key goals:
Integrated to maximize design thinking — Advancing creative solutions to new challenges requires deep integration of expertise. SmithGroup’s mix of 20 services and 10 markets creates an intersection of knowledge and multiple perspectives that facilitates innovative solutions to projects of all scales — whether planning a new 1000-hectare city in Hangzhou, China or redesigning San Francisco’s on-street public toilet and service kiosks. Non-traditional experts on staff bring varied viewpoints to optimize design thinking — including among them a nurse clinician, urban systems/infrastructure strategist, coastal modeling expert, education futurist, technology strategist, and exhibit design specialist. SmithGroup’s Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is focused on advancing equity throughout the design process, within the firm’s operations, and across the industry at large.
Future focused to anticipate design challenges — Effective design begins long before a project need is identified. By moving upstream to anticipate changes in the market and new approaches to strategy, SmithGroup is trusted for its insight and foresight developed through future-focused research and specialization of talent. SmithGroup’s Science & Technology leaders have been investigating the future of research environments through the LAB2050 initiative and are predicting trends that will impact the research space over the next half-century. The Higher Education team’s CampusForward initiative is studying factors impacting higher education institutions and has developed predictive tools to help colleges and universities make informed, data-driven decisions about their future campus and building needs.
Innovating with new design and delivery methods — Disruption is the new world norm. SmithGroup is leveraging its widely acknowledged leadership in technical expertise to explore innovative approaches to delivering projects in the face of rapid change in technology and shifts in industry demand to go further faster. The firm is charting new territory with delivery methods like Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), where SmithGroup has redefined the ‘big room’ mentality to increase agility for some of the largest projects in the United States, including nation’s largest active IPD project, the 1,015,000 square foot California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness Campus for Sutter Health in San Francisco. SmithGroup is discovering and defining, rather than reacting to, disruptions in the delivery of design work by investing in research and technology at all scales. The firm’s Technology in Practice team seeks out, tests and implements the next planning and design tools and workflows allowing data, research, and technology to better inform the design process.
Redefining design excellence — Award-winning design should be about more than aesthetics. Every place SmithGroup creates combines powerful design strategies and performance, with deliberate beauty. The firm is setting a new standard for excellence in projects like DC Water New Headquarters — where high-performance building design developed through high-tech methods is creating a curvaceous iconic identity for the utility on the city’s waterfront. The unique shape of the 150,000 square foot office building was sculpted with energy analysis tools that responded to environmental needs for site and solar impact. The firm’s integrated design team is implementing a first-in-the-U.S. wastewater heat exchange system to heat and cool the building utilizing the continuous flow of wastewater through DC Water’s infrastructure below.
As part of its new brand identity, SmithGroup has simplified its name to better represent the firm’s new mission and deep legacy. The continued use of Smith honors the century-and-a-half of design excellence begun by the firm’s original founder Sheldon Smith. The use of Group, knitted directly to Smith without a space, signals the firm’s multidisciplinary yet unified practice in mission, purpose and voice — continuing its legacy as the first, and longest continuing, integrated design services firm in the U.S.
“While our name may sound common, the SmithGroup name actually demonstrates our longstanding commitment to integrated design and innovation,” says Marketing Director, Laura Matter, CPSM, LEED AP. “Our research has shown that our clients and industry partners think of us as a firm with deep technical expertise. But we are also a premier design firm, more than capable of delivering both the most complex commissions while also creating the most iconic and evocative designs.”
The company has also launched a new website at www.smithgroup.com. There, visitors will find simple and intuitive navigation that reveals the vast breadth and depth of the firm’s work, design talent, and thought leadership. The firm’s portfolio is revealed through stories of the design thinking behind each project.
“Today we commence the greatest journey our firm has yet undertaken,” says Medici. “Our promise is to Design A Better Future for ourselves, for our clients, for our communities, and for the world.”