Home In the Family Westchester Demographic trends guide Lothrop Associates through a half-century in business

Demographic trends guide Lothrop Associates through a half-century in business

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Lothrop Associates LLP, a White Plains architecture firm, has been in business for 50 years, and over that time its work has followed the demographics of both Westchester County and the country, partner James D. Lothrop said.

The firm was founded by his father James Lothrop Sr., who was previously an architect with Perkins+Will in Chicago. The elder Lothrop worked in the White Plains office of Perkins+Will, designing schools for more than a decade starting in the 1950s. He briefly worked for the company back in Chicago before parting from the national firm to launch his own outfit on Mamaroneck Avenue in 1967.

Lothrop Associates
Partners at Lothrop Associates LLP from left: William Simmons, John P. Cutsumpas, James D. Lothrop and Arthur J. Seckler III. The partnership group also includes Phil Cerniglia. Photo by Ryan Deffenbaugh

“In the biggest sense, architecture is really dependent on demographics,” the founder’s son said. “And the firm started with my father when World War II was over and the soldiers were coming home and all of the sudden started to settle down, get jobs, have children. So that started the school business that Lothrop Associates was founded on.”

The firm started with Lothrop and four other staffers, including the founder’s 18-year-old namesake, who worked part-time over the summer before heading off to the University of Illinois to study architecture.

Today the firm employs 47 people and is headquartered in a 6,000-square-foot office at 333 Westchester Ave. Over five decades, Lothrop Associates has designed major projects, including the main Westchester Medical Center hospital building, the Westchester County Airport terminal and White Plains Hospital’s Flanzer Pavilion.

The firm ranges well beyond Westchester, however. Lothrop Associates has regional offices in Rochester, Hartford and Red Bank, New Jersey, and has completed projects throughout the country and internationally.

HISTORY

While the firm got its start building schools throughout metropolitan New York, Lothrop Associates began to expand to other sectors by the 1970s.

The first major project outside its schools business was the 500-bed teaching hospital for Westchester Medical Center, known at the time as Grasslands Hospital. That project, Lothrop said, set the foundation for the company to expand into the health care field. Lothrop Associates would later complete projects on the same site for the American Health Foundation and Westchester Medical Center’s Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

In 1995, Lothrop completed work on the new terminal for Westchester County Airport. The 41,000-square-foot facility modernized the airport, where travelers had previously waited in a World War II-era Quonset hut.

Lothrop Associates has also done work for commercial clients such as IBM and PepsiCo.

BRANCHING OUT

Arthur Seckler, a partner at the firm, said most important to Lothrop Associates’ long-term success is “the diversity of the work we do and the geographic area that we cover.”

“We say our service area is Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo. That’s the triangle that the majority of our work is in,” he said, adding that the firm has taken on international work as well. “Spreading out geographically and the broad sectors that we cover, is really the recipe for success.”

The company lists on its website specialties in 12 different sectors, ranging from religious facilities to critical facilities to health care. The firm has become most focused, partner John Cutsumpas said, in pools, housing, government and health care.

The pools business encompasses everything from high-rise residential pools in New York City to community pool centers, such as the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center in Ossining. The design for the 22,000-square-foot Ossining center was recognized by the Westchester Hudson Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“We do pools of every description and water features and other sorts of spa pools, saunas, steam baths,” said partner William Simmons.

That part of the business expanded in 2013 when Lothrop Associates absorbed Trace Pool Design, a consultancy firm with which Lothrop Associates had a long working history. Lothrop Associates has 13 employees focused on pool work, and Simmons said the firm holds an estimated 80 percent of the New York City multifamily residential pool market.

The firm has also found success working in the public sector, doing projects for local governments and housing authorities. In 2013, the firm designed a 17,000-square-foot water filtration plant for Bedford, designed as a barn to fit in with the rustic style of the community.

Lothrop Associates is working with the Greenburgh Housing Authority to design a three-story, 82-unit apartment building being developed for seniors in a public-private partnership. It will replace the Manhattan Court public senior living complex. The firm is also working with Westchester County on projects at its public safety headquarters and on improvements to the airport.

LOOKING FORWARD

Lothrop described how the firm can draw on its wide range of expertise to prepare for the way that changing demographics — whether the millennials’ workforce takeover or the retirement of the baby boomers — will shift the firm’s work. The firm’s five partners represent a range of expertise. Lothrop, for example, has designed more than half of the county’s libraries.

As for where those demographics and trends are headed in Westchester, the firm’s partners expect the growth in the multifamily residential, health care and education sectors to continue.

Seckler said growth in the multifamily market will be helped by an increase in public-private partnerships between developers and public housing authorities. The federal government has increasingly incentivized a move away from municipally managed housing and toward subsidized affordable housing projects.

“There’s a lot of partnering going on, with public housing authorities partnering with private developers and redeveloping some of these projects,” Seckler said. The partnerships are able to take advantage of tax credits and other federal assistance programs, he said.

Health care is also likely to continue creating a lot of work for all architecture firms through institutional consolidations and expansions.

Major health care institutions such as Montefiore Health System and the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System have acquired many of the smaller independent care providers in the county, “and as a result of that, they’re creating a lot of work,” Seckler said. Hospitals have also expanded through new ambulatory care centers, outpatient clinics and urgent care facilities.

Education is another sector that Seckler said is likely to continue to drive a lot of work in the region, mostly in response to increased competition among the state and private colleges.

Wherever trends drive the work, Lothrop said, an important part of the firm’s survival is its ability to identify new opportunity.

“I think we’ve been pretty creative in finding new niches and new areas where we can grow and prosper, and that’s why we are growing and prospering,” Lothrop said. “If you walk around the office, you’ll see it. We are just about flat out of space here.”

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