VOA, Chicago’s Second-Largest Architecture Firm, Now With More “Eh?”

Stantec eating VOA

One of Chicago’s largest architecture firm is not completely a hometown company anymore.

VOA Associates, which came in second in our annual Chicago Architecture Firms Expressed as Coffee Bubbles survey is being acquired by Stantec, out of Edmonton, Alberta.

You may remember VOA from such local favorites as the University Center of Chicago on State Street; the Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier; and both the seventh and 12th District Chicago Police Stations.

RCMP Division V Headquarters (Courtesy of Stantec)

RCMP Division V Headquarters in Iqaluit.  Iqaluit is the only capital city in the world you can’t get to by road.  Now you’re smarter.  (Courtesy of Stantec)

While VOA was impressive with offices in such cosmopolitan world cities as Beijing; Los Angeles; São Paulo; and Highland, Indiana, Stantec has like a brazillion office locations from Blighty to Barbados to British Columbia.  It even has an office in the First Nations capital of Iqaluit, where it designed not only the territory’s vital airport, but a pretty awesome looking RCMP Headquarters reminiscent of some of the more recent kobans built around Tokyo.

What will happen to VOA’s 140-person office in the Railway Exchange Building on Michigan Avenue remains to be seen, since Stantec already has 50 people in its office a couple of blocks away on LaSalle. We won’t use the word “right sizing” because we’re not business consultants.

The company put out this statement today:



EDMONTON, ALBERTA and CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Global design firm Stantec has signed a letter of intent to acquire VOA Associates Incorporated (VOA), a 280-person Chicago-based architecture and planning firm. VOA is recognized for dynamic building designs serving major clients in the hospitality, commercial, healthcare, workplace, entertainment and cultural, and government sectors. With commissions across the US and internationally, VOA has additional office locations in New York, NY; Washington, DC; Orlando, FL; and Highland, IN.

Bob Gomes, Stantec president and CEO, says, “VOA strengthens our collective ability to grow our building practice in US markets. Their talented staff has produced an impressive portfolio of workplace, healing, leisure, learning, civic, and entertainment venues. Culturally, they share our commitment to transform lives through integrated design and active community engagement. We’re excited to welcome VOA to the Stantec team.”

VOA further expands Stantec’s 3,800-person building design practice. In Chicago, VOA employs more than 140 people while Stantec has a 50-person office. Combined, they will form one of the largest design firms in Chicago.

Michael Toolis, VOA’s CEO and chairman, says, “Joining Stantec expands horizons and opportunities for our staff and clients. Both firms share a commitment to design, a global growth strategy, and market diversity. We’re thrilled to become part of this top-tier company and to continue our design legacy alongside this premier team of professionals.”

From Manhattan to Chicago’s Loop, Washington, DC, and Central Florida, VOA’s designs have enriched the fabric of hundreds of local communities. Founded in Chicago, VOA has contributed to the cultural vibrancy of the Windy City for more than four decades. Their notable local projects include the Wabash “vertical campus” Building at Roosevelt University; waterfront reconstruction of Navy Pier, one of the city’s signature landmarks; and the corporate headquarters for Grant Thornton and Wintrust.

Other key projects include the flagship Virgin Hotel in New York City, scheduled to debut in 2018; the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute in Virginia; and the sustainably-designed 661,000-sq.-ft. NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

The acquisition is expected to close in late March 2016.

About Stantec

We’re active members of the communities we serve. That’s why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind.

The Stantec community unites more than 15,000 employees working in over 250 locations. Our work-professional consulting in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management, and project economics-begins at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. With a long-term commitment to the people and places we serve, Stantec has the unique ability to connect to projects on a personal level and advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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