Real Estate & Construction  June 3, 2011

VFR, JCL architecture firms merge

FORT COLLINS – Two award-winning Fort Collins architecture firms, VFR Design Inc. and JCL Architecture Inc., are now one company, Vaught Frye Larson Architects, effective June 1.

“It’s not a buyout, it’s a combining of our two firms,” VFR principal Frank Vaught said.

It’s also a blending of one of the region’s most established firms with one of the newest.

VFR Design began in 1986 when Vaught and partner Joe Frye opened Vaught Frye Architects. Landscape architect Linda Ripley began working with Vaught Frye in 1996, and the three partners launched VFR Design Inc. in 2008.

In early 2010, the partnership dissolved amicably, and Ripley began doing business under the name Ripley Design. Ripley still offices out of the VFR building at 401 W. Mountain Ave. — now owned by Otterbox, which has offices on the second floor — and partners with Vaught and Frye on projects.

Justin Larson founded JCL Architecture in 2004, and has worked on sustainable projects throughout Northern Colorado and southern Wyoming from his locations in Fort Collins at 401 S. Mason St. and Cheyenne.

Larson and four of his staff members moved into the VFR office over Memorial Day weekend, after holding Monday morning meetings together for several weeks.

Vaught and Larson made the decision to merge after engaging in a conversation about the best way for their businesses to grow coming out of the recession and discovering that their companies had “countless parallels, according to Larson.

“The merger will allow us to better facilitate the work we’re bringing in,” Larson said. He said that in his small firm, as founder and principal, he performed many different duties at once.

“It’ll be nice to take off a few hats,” said Larson, who is currently serving as president of the board for the regional council of the American Institute of Architects in addition to designing projects for clients ranging from residential to commercial.

Mutually beneficial

The new partnership will be mutually beneficial, according to Vaught, who said that his years of experience will allow him to mentor Larson, who, in turn will “relight my creative fires,” with his new outlook.

Vaught added that VFLA will be a larger, stronger firm, and will be able to weather storms better than either of the two firms could alone.

VFLA currently employs 12 people, and will potentially be hiring more in the future, some full-time, some on short-term contracts.

Combining employees from both firms creates a synergy of people and a new culture in the office, Vaught said.

“There’s a great energy and different perspectives,” Larson said.

Both VFR and JCL provide general architecture services, with no one specialty, and will continue to maintain a diverse portfolio as VFLA.

“The transition seems pretty seamless so far,” Vaught added

VFL Architects will adopt JCL’s website, www.theartofconstruction.com, and the site will be revamped to reflect the new business and the combined strength of the two firms.

Some of the parallels that brought the firms together include their reputations for good work, and good works. Both have received awards on many occasions, including Governor’s Awards and Urban Design Awards, and regularly appear on the Business Report’s Mercury 100 list of fastest growing companies in the region.

Current projects for VFR include the Eye Center of Northern Colorado, an addition to the Fort Collins Utilities Services Center, the Otterbox warehouse expansion, and an addition to Alder Hall at Colorado State University.

JCL is also involved in several local projects, including the new facility for the nonprofit Crossroads Safehouse, Boardwalk Park in Windsor, and a Poudre Canyon Fire Protection fire station.

Both firms have also done work in other states, including New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska, and in yet another parallel, both have been involved in projects in Gering, Neb., outside of Scottsbluff.

Optimistic about merger

Clients of the two firms are optimistic about the merger, and have high hopes for the two owners as they progress together.

Doug Dohn, owner of Fort Collins-based Dohn Construction Inc. has worked with both VFR and JCL, and called the merger “exciting.”

“I have high regard for both firms and I think they’ll be a great combination,” Dohn said.

Developer Les Kaplan said he knows Larson on “lots of levels,” and that he has known Vaught and Frye for decades. Kaplan said that the merger will be a very productive merger between the maturity of Vaught Frye and the youthful creativity of Larson.

“Vaught Frye is hands-down the preeminent site designer in the area,” Kaplan said. “Adding the imaginative element of Larson’s company will create a powerhouse.”

VFLA will hold an open house on July 14 at its office at 401 W. Mountain Ave. Larson has yet to reveal plans for redevelopment of his old office on Mason Street, but said the Cheyenne office will stay open, under the Vaught Frye Larson name. VFL employees will be on site a few times a week to cater to Wyoming clients, which accounted for about 50 percent of JCL’s business.

FORT COLLINS – Two award-winning Fort Collins architecture firms, VFR Design Inc. and JCL Architecture Inc., are now one company, Vaught Frye Larson Architects, effective June 1.

“It’s not a buyout, it’s a combining of our two firms,” VFR principal Frank Vaught said.

It’s also a blending of one of the region’s most established firms with one of the newest.

VFR Design began in 1986 when Vaught and partner Joe Frye opened Vaught Frye Architects. Landscape architect Linda Ripley began working with Vaught Frye in 1996, and the three partners launched VFR Design Inc. in 2008.

In early 2010, the…

Related Content