Two For One

Greenleaf Lawson Architects’ offices in historic downtown Covington doubles as a flexible workspace and design showroom for clients

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In less than five years, newly founded Northshore architectural firm Greenleaf Lawson Architects outgrew its original space and found new digs in a historic part of Covington.

Founded in 2015 by Justin Greenleaf and Michelle Lawson, the full-service architectural firm was housed in a small Mandeville office park when they found themselves on the hunt for a new location.

“We knew the next step would be a forever home that aligned with our needs,” said Lawson. “That turned out to be downtown Covington. It’s walkable with lots of restaurants. We can take lots of meetings nearby, so we could [use] less space.”

Lawson said when a two-story brick building went up for sale at 404 East Gibson Street, the new owner reached out to the firm as a potential tenant. While Greenleaf and Lawson had worked in Covington in the past and knew they liked the area, they initially weren’t sure about the space.

“It’s hard to look at a space and see that it can be something bigger and grander,” said Lawson. “Justin encouraged us to go through the process, so we did what we advise our clients to do: We asked, ‘How much growth could we accommodate in this space?’ I think by demolishing the walls and creating a lot of spaces that are multiuse, it allowed us to get a lot of mileage out of a small space.”

While the Covington historic district location came with charm, it also placed restrictions on what the team could do with the exterior of the building, which Lawson said affected the company’s signage. The interior, however, was fair game. Removing walls and opening up the layout enabled the firm to create flexible spaces conducive to collaboration and growth. The offices also serve as a place to showcase what the firm can do for clients.

“Right when you enter into the suite, we have a large, open, multipurpose area,” said Lawson. “We meet in there, eat in there and have community meetings and offer it up to [local organizations]. We completed and designed a hospitality bar, similar to what we’ve done for some of our hospitality clients. We have draft beer and nitro coffee for employees and clients as part of that showroom aspect.” The office also features a java station like you’d find at PJs Coffee, who is a client of the firm’s.

The space can be reconfigured for any size group, accommodating casual, chats, as well as formal staff meetings. Company culture is a priority for Greenleaf and Lawson, so creativity and flexibility are promoted on a day-to-day basis. Since COVID struck, Lawson said they’ve learned just how flexible they are as a team.

“We proved to ourselves that we were able to work remotely without missing a beat,” she said. “We can grab a laptop and a router and be on our way. We [can] collaborate in person or remotely.”

The firm was founded on the premise that the industry is rapidly changing and available technology can be used much more efficiently and effectively to, as Lawson said, “create an overall better experience for the client and contractors.”

In the coming year, Lawson said the company’s goal is to promote and grow its branding division — which assists clients in creating a cohesive company name, logo, and other visuals and branding aspects — as well as take on more residential projects. The new space is designed to enable the completion of those goals and allow the firm to grow where they’ve been planted.

“We knew the design had to be powerful and send a message to every client that came into the space,” said Lawson. “It’s designed to show a client different things that they can incorporate into their space. We created a showroom.”

 

At a Glance
Business name
Greenleaf Lawson Architects
Location
404 E Gibson St., Covington
Date of opening
Opened in 2015; Moved into new space May 2019
Size
2,700 square feet
Number of Employees
13
Person in Charge
Justin Greenleaf and Michelle Lawson, principal architects