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March 19, 2008


Ballard Spahr ReportThe Southwest Waterfront, Southeast Federal Center, National Harbor, O Street Market. What do they have in common? All required public-private partnerships. The team at Ballard Spahr knows how to structure them and create a "win-win" for government, residents, and investors.  Read More Here 


On its third generation of Leos (and we don't mean the astrological sign), the architecture firm Leo A Daly is going strong. Founded in Omaha in 1915 by the current Leo's grandfather, it boasts 1200 people in 24 offices and a portfolio spanning 65 countries.  Although Leo III counts Omaha as home (where he plays poker with longtime family friend Warren Buffett), he's adopted DC as his second home (just like his neighbors, the Clintons).


Leo tells us his father (Leo Jr.) always made teamwork the company motto, and pioneered putting architects, planners, designers, and engineers in the same office, and also made the bold decision to go global in '67 when he opened an office in Hong Kong. Leo III has led a storied life travelling the world and opening markets in 50 countries. He chose DC to live after starting an office here in 1964 as he graduated from Catholic, and because he's always had a penchant for politics. As for DC architecture, he thinks we've entered a "golden age" but  chalks it up to good zoning: "Thank God we've had this limit on the height."  


The firm recently brought on former Congressman and Ambassador Richard Swett, a licensed architect (only one to serve in Congress in the 20th Century) to head the DC office; his job will be to use his community-building skills to let people here see them as authentic locals. But he's also off twice this month on business to Russia.


Leo with the company's new China rep, Yu Feng Guo, in front of an impressive array of arrows and diagrams in what we believe to be an architect's version of a March Madness bracket. 


Leo shows us a picture of the Italian Chancery in DC. Children's Hospital, Reagan National Airport, the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, and the WWII Memorial are among other local marquee projects. He says he still gets letters from war vets and their children about experiences visiting the memorial. The firm's latest regional crown jewel is the 300,000 SF Lockheed Martin Center for Leadership Excellence in Bethesda which delivers in early '09 and will serve as a state-of-the-art training center.


We even talked Dick into giving us a copy of his new book, Leadership by Design. (Clever title, huh?)


Leo at an office window overlooking St. Matthew's Cathedral where he and his wife were married 25 years ago. Chevy Chase Bank CEO Frank Saul, with whom the firm has worked for 30 years designing branch offices, was Leo's best man.


Leo and Dick sit in what look to us like 2001 Space Odyssey chairs in the lobby. Leo, whose travels for the firm included being in Tehran when the Shah fell and Indonesia when Sukarno was deposed, laughs he was in so many places where governments changed that people must have thought he was on CIA assignment. (To add to the conspiracy theories, we see a UFO in that picture.  Oh, wait, that's our stupid flash.)    

Did you miss the Ballard Spahr report? Read more about public-private partnerships here
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