Forty is fabulous.
During these economic times, it’s especially gratifying to be able to celebrate milestones, projects awarded and individual and firm achievements. Amidst our 40th year, we are recalling our many firsts: first LEED Platinum state office building in the country, first Living Building in the country (we hope), our involvement in the first city (Greensburg, KS) to commit to LEED Platinum certification of all City-owned buildings, and the feasibility study for the first Living Laboratory for a School of Ecology in the world.
Many moons ago, we were but four, ambitious men - each armed with a passion for architecture and fun facial hair and bowties. Let us take you through a quick timeline, shall we?
BNIM was founded in 1970 in Kansas City as Patty Berkebile Nelson Love Architects (PBNL). From its earliest history, the firm has been dedicated to strengthening our urban cores with projects that create a strong civic identity and a revitalized sense of place.
In 1981, an engineering failure at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City caused a devastating skywalk collapse. While the firm was not responsible for the collapse, for Bob Berkebile, the building’s designer, it was an epiphany that compelled him to find ways to build that were more respectful of people. His passion led him — and the firm — to shape the direction of the sustainable movement.
In 1990, Bob Berkebile helped to establish the national American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment. Bob was a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and he, along with other firm members, helped to pioneer the LEED rating system with multiple pilot projects. The 500-mile radius LEED requirement emerged from BNIM’s work on the Montana State University EPICenter.
In 1991, the firm that was co-founded by Tom Nelson and Bob Berkebile became Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM) to recognize the contributions of principals Steve McDowell and David Immenschuh.
The Living Building Concept was initiated at BNIM in 1990s, and the concept later was given life by the Cascadia Region Green Building Council as a powerful tool for measuring true sustainability known as Living Building Challenge.
The firm expanded its presence to Houston, TX (2003), Des Moines, IA (2007), Los Angeles, CA (2005) and San Diego, CA (2007) out of increasing national demand for holistic design solutions that consider human, fiscal and environmental success simultaneously.
An inherent commitment to community, along with pioneering leadership in sustainable design, awards BNIM a clear vision and philosophy that informs each design. A commitment to sustainability is embedded in all aspects of the firm’s work.
In 2011, BNIM ushered in a new decade by receiving the coveted 2011 AIA National Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects in recognition of the firm's legacy of environmental stewardship and design excellence.
Today, we are going strong at 71 BNIMers, and quite a few still favor the bowties.