We are a firm with a proud heritage that has benefited through the years from entrepreneurial skills and proven success in cultivating new generations of leadership. They represent the ability of a venerable old firm to remake itself periodically into a fresh new entity, and they illustrate the success Page has had in transitioning leadership over its 100-plus year history. Read on to learn how.
The roots of Page, which does business formally as Page Southerland Page, Inc., extend back to a two-person partnership formed in 1898 in Austin. During the early 20th century, Charles H. Page and his brother, Louis, designed numerous public buildings in Texas, including the Chambers, Hunt, Fort Bend and Anderson county courthouses and city hall buildings in Brownsville, Mexia and Eagle Lake. The Page Brothers received several prominent commissions in Austin, among them the Austin National Bank on Congress Avenue and the Littlefield building (which is still standing), as well as the Texas Building at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
Louis Page Jr. and Louis Southerland, who had been classmates at MIT, formed the firm of Page and Southerland in Austin, and during the 1930s, completed landmark work for the Austin State School, Rosewood Housing (one of the first public housing projects in the United States) and the 1937 Austin City Hall, as well as houses for Lyndon B. Johnson and many other legendary Texas figures. Louis Page began what would become a strong link between the firm and academia by teaching at the University of Texas. His brother, George, joined the firm, expanding the name to Page Southerland Page.
The firm revived its practice after World War II in part by becoming campus architects for the University of Texas and Texas Woman’s University and by designing what would be the first of many embassies – this one in Mexico City. Louis Southerland and others in the firm took pride in their personal interactions during this era with national leaders in architecture such as Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra. PageSoutherlandPage trained many young architects who would become leaders of firms all over Texas, including John Rowlett of Caudill Rowlett Scott in Houston and both Ed Beran and Overton Shelmire, who formed Beran and Shelmire in Dallas.
At that time, the firm became one of the first architectural firms in the nation to integrate in-house engineering design services to respond to the increasingly complex systems in healthcare projects. Today our projects vary in complexity and innovation from office buildings and corporate interiors, to academic institutions to wafer fabrication and healthcare facilities. Our engineers are responsible for designing interdependent mechanical, electrical, plumbing, civil and structural systems for a wide range of projects.
In 1973 the firm established an office in Houston and in 1975 took over the important modernist practice of Roscoe DeWitt in Dallas when he retired. The three offices in Texas continued to have a very strong influence in the state through the 1980s, but also began to expand their work both nationally and internationally. Another office was established in Washington D.C. in 1994 to facilitate that geographical expansion and to address a growing practice in service to the federal government.
Foundation for Today’s Generation
Beginning in the mid-1980s a new generation of leadership emerged that would transform PageSoutherlandPage once again. Building on its roots as a practice committed strongly to its place, the firm began to be a national example of the powerful difference architects can make over a period of time in building cities and communities.
The Austin office set an active goal of advancing the architectural ambitions of that community. In particular, the firm began to be very involved in downtown revitalization through civic participation and community activism as well as through professional projects. Its design work gained increasing recognition, notably on the Austin Convention Center which was the most prominent initiative in the city for downtown revitalization. PageSoutherlandPage played an important role in determining the site for this key project, expanding its program to make the facility less insular and more urban as a building type and designing a building that became an authentic extension of existing city fabric.
Throughout the 1990s, on the heels of the success of the Convention Center, PageSoutherlandPage became the firm of choice for many landmark civic projects in Austin including various planning projects, a new airport terminal (in collaboration with Gensler), a major state office complex at the foot of the Capitol Building and a new six-block district around City Hall. The firm played an important role in design and sustainability leadership in the community as well. From 1984 to 2009 buildings designed under the principals’ leadership would win a dominant 28 AIA Austin design awards and set the pace for the transformation of Austin’s emerging architectural community into one of the most vibrant in the nation. Working with the progressive energy departments of the City of Austin and the State of Texas, the firm helped develop standards for sustainable design in the pre-LEED era of the 1990s.
In 1993, the Houston office underwent a change in leadership and began to establish a new standard in that city as well. The office started to play an active role in the revitalization of downtown Houston, beginning with the adaptive re-use of derelict but distinguished older buildings in the urban core. The Rice Hotel project, a landmark example of this effort, converted downtown Houston’s grandest old hotel (which had been empty for many years) into condominiums, not only preserving an important historic landmark, but also bringing badly needed residents into downtown. Seven similar adaptive re-use projects followed over the next decade.
Civic activism and volunteerism also became a part of the firm’s leadership in Houston. When devastating floods struck downtown and the Houston Medical Center in 2001, PageSoutherlandPage stepped in to help with mitigation of damages even before the floodwaters subsided. As in Austin, improving the standard of design in downtown and contributing projects that create a larger “sense of place” became a high priority. The mixed-use project for Christ Church Cathedral (done in a joint venture with Leo A Daly/LAN) that integrated a center for the homeless amiably into a very complex bit of city fabric received all of the top design awards the community had to give. The 12-acre Discovery Green Park (designed in association with Hargreaves Associates Landscape Architects) is making a similar long-term fundamental contribution to the character of downtown Houston. In 2005, the firm of Bricker + Cannady Architects was merged into the Houston office.
Similarly, the Dallas office gained a new leader with a similar urban improvement vision in 1992. Also heavily involved in civic activism (in particular, the very influential Landmarks Commission), this office sought, as well, to make the firm reflect the nature of its community. In particular, the firm concentrated on leadership in two areas of high economic impact in Dallas—facilities for science/technology and for healthcare. PageSoutherlandPage has served as long-standing architect for Texas Instruments, one of the great economic engines in the area, completing a wide range of projects including two Gold LEED facilities. Other clients in the Dallas area that have been crucial in the development of the city include Baylor Medical Center and University of Texas at Dallas. In 2007 the firm of Milton Powell and Partners was merged into the Dallas office.
Shortly after the Washington office was established, a new principal was introduced to focus the firm’s work on the strengths of Washington as a city. The initial achievements came with private developer clients and mixed-use, urban projects such as The Navy League Building, the first PageSoutherlandPage building to achieve Silver LEED certification. Expanding its focus to the federal government design-build arena, the office is becoming one of the leading designers of secure office environments for the Department of State, the Army Corps of Engineers and the General Services Administration. Most notably, the Washington office is currently working on its 14th design-build new embassy or new consular compound, representing a total of over $1.3B in new construction since 2002, and is also very active in the design of international projects for non-United States government clients such as Kuwait University.
Growth in the Millennium
In 2008, PageSoutherlandPage expanded to the west, acquiring a Denver-based architectural practice and gaining additional portfolio strength in areas such as student life.
In 2013, the firm announced to the world that everyone could call it Page, a new name for a new day. This was reflective of the new generation of leadership, new ownership structure and new way of working. The new name acknowledges its heritage, is representative of the fact it started as a partnership between the Page brothers and has evolved over time into the robust organization it is today.
The following year, BMS Design Group, an urban design, urban planning and landscape architecture firm in San Francisco joined Page. The transition allowed Page to leverage the collective expertise of our new staff to advance our planning service capabilities in campuses, medical districts, transit, waterfronts and streetscapes across all our offices. Additionally, our new office expanded our ability to offer architectural, engineering, interior design and strategic consulting to West Coast clients.
SST Planners, an award-winning laboratory planning and design firm became part of Page in 2015. While they continued their established business model of serving as consultants for architecture firms primarily on higher academic and science/technology projects, they also expanded the depth of the Page consulting service of lab planning. The newest members of Page were previously based in Virginia and joined our DC office.
The firm this generation has built is committed to city-building in an extraordinary way. Though now a large firm with multiple offices in the U.S. and abroad, Page has retained a rootedness in the communities it serves and an investment in making a long-term difference in the cities where it builds. There is a strong belief in the kind of cumulative placemaking that great firms have made in the past—like H. H. Richardson in Boston and Burnham and Root in Chicago. The current Page practice is aimed at making that kind of difference in the 21st century through a sophisticated integration of civic involvement alongside progressive planning, urban design and architecture.