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KAI Interior Designer Asha Perez to Moderate Panel Discussion at Design Connections Industry Event

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Award winning KAI Interior Designer Asha Perez has been selected to moderate a panel discussion Feb. 13 at the Design Connections event in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The 6th annual industry event brings leading suppliers together with the nation’s top architectural and design professionals for 2.5 days of networking and information sharing.

Perez will introduce and moderate general session presentation: “The Experienced Designer & Emerging Professional” scheduled for 8-9 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13. Participants in the panel discussion will include:

  • Michelle Clark, Senior Associate at Rees Associates
  • McKenzie Gamez, Interior Designer at Rees Associates
  • Patrick Burke, Principal at Michael Graves Architecture & Design
  • Austin Crowley, Architectural Designer at Michael Graves Architecture & Design

The panel discussion will focus on bringing together generations as a necessity for successful project design. Two design teams, including an experienced designer and an emerging professional, will discuss the importance and usage of mentor/mentee relationships within the field of design and architecture and within the context of each respective firm. Communicating effectively with an emerging professional while working to meet deadlines can be challenging even for the experienced mentor; the panel will share some of their most effective communication techniques.

Additional discussion topics will include the importance of technology for emerging professionals, balancing the need to learn and participate in the design process with more experienced design leadership, and ways to accomplish “knowledge share” across a design firm.

Additional panel discussion learning objectives:

  • Understand the need and benefit for mentor/mentee relationships.
  • Explore ways of educating both experienced and emerging professionals to benefit positive project outcomes.
  • Explore balancing technology knowledge with creative design process.
  • Share the most important reasons for successful knowledge sharing and breaking down silos.

Perez actively mentors to college students in her community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the ACE Mentor Program of St. Louis, an organization that helps young people in St. Louis City high schools learn about careers in architecture, engineering and construction.

“I am excited to be part of this particular panel discussion because I truly value and support mentorship,” said Perez. “Throughout my career as an interior designer, I have learned the most valuable information outside the classroom, where I have gained real-world knowledge and experience through the various mentors who I have been fortunate enough to work with. I also see the value in being able to pass my experiences on to others through mentoring. This panel discussion is invaluable for anyone in the design industry, from the novice to the seasoned professional, who wants to learn the ins and outs of mentoring.”

For more information about Design Connections, visit

KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. KAI Enterprises is comprised of four distinct business units—KAI Design, KAI Engineering, KAI Build and KAI 360 Construction Services. To learn more about KAI, visit

Knoebel Construction Completes Construction at Eight Burger King Locations in Three States

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Knoebel Construction has completed work at eight Burger King locations in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. The fast-track projects included new construction of four 3,200 to 4,500-square-foot locations in Joplin, MO; Pittsburg, KS; Marshfield, MO and Highland, IL. Knoebel also renovated four locations in Manhattan, KS; Litchfield, IL; St. Ann, MO and Granite City, MO. Construction is underway at three additional locations in Pontoon Beach, IL; Ellisville, MO and St. Louis, MO.

The construction projects feature the newest store layout and design for Burger King, the fifth largest fast food chain in the United States. Knoebel equipped all of the locations with two drive-through lanes, a layout that is becoming more popular among fast food restaurants.

Over the past five years, Knoebel has worked on more than 20 franchise Burger King locations in seven states: Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, South Dakota, Georgia, Nebraska and Illinois.

Knoebel Construction, Inc. is a national general contractor specializing in retail center, multi-use, restaurant, grocery, healthcare and retail store construction. For more information, visit or call (636) 326-4100.

Feeler, S. Architects & HBD Construction Awarded New Medical Office Building in Quincy, Illinois

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This 83,000 square-foot, two-story medical office building, with an emphasis on Orthopedics, includes Radiology, Laboratory, Clinical, and Physical Therapy departments, as well as public areas such as retail, coffee shop, and meeting spaces. The second floor houses Specialty Care Practitioners and additional space for future healthcare specialists.

FSA (Feeler, S. Architects) utilized a 25-degree site orientation and combined it with a 250-foot glazing and intentional overhangs to maximize the flow of natural light throughout the building.

By designing the building with four entrances, the facility provides expansive parking for its guests and staff without sacrificing customer convenience. Waiting areas line the interior length of the building, creating comfortable patient spaces with ample technology support (internet, power, etc.). Wayfinding is made simple for both patients and staff with each clinical POD designed in a circuit pattern, while a back-of-house corridor allows providers and employees to access and supply departments without interfering with patient-oriented spaces.

This building is currently under construction. 2017 Design Competition Team: FSA (Feeler, S. Architects), HBD Construction, SSC Engineering, DMI (Design Mechanical), and PSBA (Poepping, Stone, Bach & Associates).

Leonardo DRS to Build New Engineering and Manufacturing Complex in Bridgeton, Missouri

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Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced today that it will build a new engineering development and light manufacturing facility and offices in Bridgeton, Missouri, to accommodate its growing Land Systems line of business. The new facility is expected to be ready by early 2020.

The company will invest in a new, best-in-class engineering, research and development and laboratory space to serve as the focal point for the majority of the business unit’s development and platform systems integration activities.  The business is a leading integrator of a wide range of systems for U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps ground platforms, including reconnaissance and surveillance, mission support, and vehicle survivability and lethality. The line of business also maintains an 85-acre heavy manufacturing campus in West Plains, Missouri.

Additionally, the new St. Louis area facility will be home to the business unit headquarters, housing leadership, management and a centralized back office functionality.

“Our company has been growing and together with the expanding mission-critical needs of our customers, we now require a more modern and efficient facility,” said Aaron Hankins, vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Systems line of business. “The St. Louis area has been our long-time home, and we look forward to being a part of this community for years to come,” Hankins said.

The current facility is more than 50 years old and no longer meets company requirements for efficient manufacturing and day-to-day operations.  The future site in Bridgeton gives the business the appropriate space to build a modern facility, while providing the flexibility to expand with minimal impacts to the current workforce.

“This region and Leonardo DRS will benefit as the business continues to be anchored in the greater St. Louis area as a result of this new investment,” Hankins said.

Additionally, Leonardo DRS is a believer in supporting education in the community and is working with the Pattonville School District by executing a formal agreement to further Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives in an extended learning opportunity (ELO) program for high school students. The partnership also creates additional learning opportunities for elementary students and faculty in the district, as well as mentoring and job shadowing opportunities for high school students.

“This is an important move and will permit our operations to advance and achieve success for our customer, the region and our company for many years to come,” Hankins said.  

Leonardo DRS is a prime contractor, leading technology innovator and supplier of integrated products, services and support to military forces, intelligence agencies and defense contractors worldwide. Its Land Systems business unit is recognized leader in the design and integration of complex technologies into new and legacy systems and platforms for global military and commercial customers.

Western Specialty Contractors Offers Free Comprehensive eBook on Property Inspections and Maintenance

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Properly maintaining a building, facility or structure is one of the most challenging, yet important tasks of a facility manager or property owner. Knowing which building components are the most vital, when those components should be inspected and how they should be maintained over time can be overwhelming to the inexperienced, and even the most experienced facility manager. Concrete and masonry restoration experts Western Specialty Contractors has made the complex maintenance process simple with its new eBook, “Property Inspections – The Critical First Step.”

Downloadable for FREE at, Western’s Property Inspections eBook outlines the keys to successful property inspections and maintenance, which begins with the building component inventory.

“If you are preparing to launch a new maintenance program, or just revamp an existing one, the first step is to create a building component inventory, even before doing any inspections,” said Teddy Williams, Content Marketing Manager at Western Specialty Contractors. “While this may feel like an unnecessary step, it is actually the most important. You don’t want to waste a lot of time and money inspecting and repairing building components that don’t necessarily need it. A proper component inventory will help protect against unwanted expenditures.”

The Property Inspections eBook outlines the steps to creating a building component inventory, from determining whether a component should be included on the list, rating its current condition and determining its age and life expectancy.

“This process allows property managers and owners to be able to time repairs better, make budgets more accurate and avoid unnecessary costs,” said Williams.

The next step in building maintenance outlined in the eBook is scheduling and conducting inspections — a process that can be expensive and time-consuming but doesn’t have to be. Planning is the key to simplifying the process, said Williams.

“The inspection plan is today’s property maintenance darling. Regular maintenance helps you sustain a healthy and attractive property, plus makes maintenance projects more predictable while increasing tenant satisfaction, retention and attraction,” said Williams.

The Property Inspections eBook takes readers through a step-by-step process for creating a successful inspection plan, plus provides several tips on how to take the stress out of property inspections and maintenance decision-making.

Other valuable information provided in the eBook includes:

  • How to rate a component’s condition
  • Knowing when it’s time to fix a component
  • How to prioritize and budget for repairs
  • Making inspection data objective and easier to digest
  • When and how often to do exterior property inspections

In addition to the eBook, Western Specialty Contractors also offers continuing education on exterior property maintenance. For more information, visit

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit  

Darren L. James, AIA, Named President of KAI Enterprises

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KAI Enterprises, an integrated architectural, engineering and construction services firm, is pleased to announce that long-time Dallas community leader Darren L. James, AIA, has been named President of KAI Enterprises. The leadership change reflects the company’s vision to grow, connect and transform communities across the country.

James, a shareholder in the company since 2010 and formerly the President and COO of KAI Texas, will explore innovative ways in his new role to increase and expand KAI’s national presence and develop and oversee the sales and marketing strategy for each of KAI Enterprises’ four business units: KAI Design, KAI Engineering, KAI Build and KAI 360 Construction Services (KAI 360 CS).

“Darren’s experience has been instrumental in creating growth for the company. Over the past 13 years, his strong leadership and dedication has been invaluable to the organization,” said Michael Kennedy, Jr., CEO of KAI Enterprises. “We are excited about the impact his new leadership role will have on achieving KAI’s overall mission and goals as president of the holding company.”

For over a decade, James has been a member of KAI’s Corporate Leadership Team helping to set the strategic tone and direction for offices across the country. James has focused his corporate efforts on strategic growth, team building, marketing and communications; and his external efforts on civic engagement, community building, education, mentoring and outreach.

James joined KAI in 1993 as a recent graduate of the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Urban Design where he served a variety of roles within the organization. Upon becoming a registered architect, he transitioned from design production to business activities. James became a Business Development Specialist, learning how to run and manage a design firm. Showing success in the St. Louis market, gaining private and public clients, James approached KAI leadership to begin marketing and sales opportunities on a national level.

In 2002, James was selected to help establish and grow KAI’s presence in the Dallas area. His vision was to create a firm that not only serviced KAI’s clients, but also the patrons of those facilities, environments and the community at large. With the growth and success of large-scale, transformative community projects, in 2005, James was appointed President & COO of KAI Texas where he focused on continuing to grow the firm’s reach and commitment to the Texas market. James’ client list includes some of the most pivotal agencies and private sector entities in Dallas, San Antonio, St. Louis, Atlanta and Omaha where KAI’s regional offices are located as well as Austin, Houston and Fort Worth. KAI expanded to Atlanta and Omaha in 2010 where James led sales efforts, office growth and large-scale projects in both locations as well as St. Louis.

James has always been passionate about community-focused initiatives and has served on numerous non-profit and for-profit boards. He has served in leadership positions on some of the largest, most influential Boards of Directors such as Big Brother Big Sisters of Dallas County, Community Council of Greater Dallas, Minority Design Professionals Council and Dallas Center for Architecture. James currently serves on the Trinity Park Conservancy, Dallas Regional Chamber, VISIT Dallas, and Dallas Citizen’s Council Boards of Directors. Additionally, James is Chairman of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce and the President of the Board for Fair Park First.

KAI Enterprises is a national design and build firm providing delivery-oriented building solutions with a diverse portfolio of experience, in-house multi-discipline professionals, and expertise in both design and construction delivery. To learn more about KAI, visit

Contegra Construction Named Business of the Year in Edwardsville

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Edwardsville-based Contegra Construction Company – a homegrown Metro East firm known for building projects such as World Wide Technology and Amazon warehouse/distribution/fulfillment centers – was granted the City of Edwardsville’s “Business of the Year” award for its work and charitable efforts throughout 2018.

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton presented Contegra President Eric Gowin with the honor during the city’s annual Business Forecast Breakfast on Feb. 5th.

“Contegra’s commitment to Edwardsville since its inception 15 years ago is monumental,” said Patton. “The firm’s work represents nearly 48 percent of the dollar value of all new permits issued by our city during 2018. Contegra is also deeply committed to community involvement, and the company hires eight interns from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville every year.”

Gowin said the company is blessed to be an active part of the fabric of a dynamic, growing community. “Our integrity is an essential part of our culture,” he said. “It drives our dedication to excellent service, which results in project success. We work closely with our clients and fellow professionals. By committing to a true partnership, we look out for everyone’s best interest. We’re delighted and humbled to accept this honor from the City of Edwardsville.”

Other Contegra projects include Ironworks, the 22,000-square-foot, mixed-use retail/residential development in Edwardsville that will reach completion in early spring, and New Poag Richland Residential, a nine-building, 486-bed privatized student housing development near SIUE.

Contegra’s nonprofit arm, Contegra Cares, regularly volunteers time, energy and financial support to causes including Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, The BackStoppers, St. Louis Children’s Hospital (KIDstruction), Songs 4 Soldiers and Pedal the Cause.

Photo Above: Eric Gowin

IMPACT Strategies Begins Work on Siteman Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital East

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IMPACT Strategies has begun construction on the new Siteman Cancer Center to be housed in a new medical office building on Memorial Hospital East’s Shiloh campus. The new building will add approximately 70,000 square feet of treatment facilities and office space to this Illinois campus.


IMPACT Strategies will contract up to 25% of the construction of this project to minority and women-owned business entrepreneurs. Further, in cooperation with Metro East area construction unions, efforts will be made to employ minority and women, and apprentices.


Construction of the medical office building is set for completion by late 2019, with Siteman’s opening planned for January 2020.


HDA Architects Completes Distribution Center for Panattoni Development in Edwardsville, IL

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HDA Architects recently completed a 768,678 Square Foot Distribution Center (Lakeview 5) for Panattoni Development in Edwardsville, Illinois. The tilt-up panel warehouse is designed to have four tenants with office spaces at each corner of the building. This is the second Distribution Center HDA has designed at Lakeview Commerce Center for Panattoni Development. Kadean Construction was the General Contractor.

Nolan Office Interiors Announces Corporate Name Change to COCRE8 Interiors

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Founded in 1982, Nolan Office Interiors will be changing its name to COCRE8 Interiors and introducing a new corporate identity reflecting the fundamentals of their core values…Collaborative Creation. The new name will contain the tagline “Infinite Possibilities” demonstrating the endless products and full line of services offered including furniture, architectural, and space planning. COCRE8 Interiors is a solution provider for any organization that aspires to transform their space to create extraordinary environments which promotes positive culture and work-life balance, stimulates collaboration, and maximizes productivity.

According to Nathan Maurer, CEO, “The new name, COCRE8 Interiors allows us to emphasize our wider ranging business objectives of being a trusted partner with building owners, end-users, architects, and contractors but equally recognizing and understanding the fundamental shift in space planning for today’s commercial office, education, and healthcare spaces.

The new name is effective immediately and will be implemented across the company’s services and marketing moving forward.

COCRE8 Interiors represents 200+ furniture and architectural solutions manufacturers including OFS, AIS, Sit-On-It, Muraflex, Maxon, ESI, Carolina, Carvart, Benetti, Three H, and many more. To learn more visit

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