Best Places to Work 2021

Posted By Sapp Design – Sep 8 | 2021

Sapp Design Architect was honored to have been named a 2021 Biz 417 Best Places to work top 20 employer! This recognition means a lot to the team at Sapp Design as we work every day to strengthen and invoke meaningful change to our evolving company culture.

Biz 417’s Best Places to Work is a celebration of elite employers who have proven that they know what it takes to create environments where people love to come to work. Identifying and recognizing these outstanding workplaces was a joint effort of Biz 417 Magazine and Best Companies Group.

The Best Places to Work program was open to all publicly or privately held organizations in the 417 region. To be eligible for consideration, organizations must have at least 15 employees in the region, being headquartered in the region was not a requirement.

The “Best Places to Work” survey process was managed by Best Companies Group (BCG). BCG, an independent workplace excellence research firm, managed the registration process, conducted the two-part survey process, evaluated the data, and ultimately chose the employers that were good enough to make the list.

Opening Williams Elementary Schools

Posted By Sapp Design – Aug 19 | 2021

Williams Elementary is undergoing significant renovations and expansions as part of the voter-approved Proposition S. These improvements will create more equitable access to 21st learning environments as well as modern safety and security upgrades such as a tornado safe room that doubles a gym.

The facility will house up to 350 k-5 students and serve as an early childhood hub for 100 pre-k Students. Plans for the new Williams Elementary also include a strategic partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield. This partnership provides dedicated space within the new building to help ensure that students and families have the support and then need to grow and learn. The program anticipates serving 200 students every day. This collaborative partnership between Springfield Public schools and the Boys club is now the second of its kind in the district following Sherwood Elementary school in 2015!

Small Biz Spotlight

Posted By Sapp Design – Jun 3 | 2021

Sapp Design Recently sat down with the Springfield Chamber of Commerce to go over our company beginnings and what we are currently up too.

Describe what your organization provides for its customers:
Sapp Design provides a blended approach to architecture, interior design, and master planning services throughout the Midwest. As your partner in a complex world of design and construction, our proactive approach seeks to anticipate your needs and enhance your space through a fusion of innovative & time-tested solutions. We are here to guide you through whatever project you might have with our team of highly knowledgeable professionals that will help you find solutions in an efficient and holistic manner.

Give us a brief history of your business and what makes it unique:

Sapp Design Architects’ humble beginning started in 1986 in a small house located along Springfield’s Historic Walnut Street. During our early years, the firm focused on various project types but quickly found their passion in the public market – where we could most broadly impact each local community.

Fast forward 35 years, our team of 23 passionate architects and interior designers have become known as trusted advisors working with communities across the Midwest, specifically in the fields of public education, higher education, libraries, safe rooms, civic municipalities, and local businesses. We take pride in the fact that we are a group of problem-solvers & innovators – always pursuing the best path forward to assist our clients in finding a comprehensive solution.

What’s the most exciting recent highlight for your business?

In the last three years, Sapp Design Architects opened an office in Kansas City and is working with one of our nation’s largest library systems to modernize all 38 facilities and, in some instances, literally rewriting the book (pun intended) on how libraries service communities beyond books and promote lifetime learning. A prime example of this is the new Green Hills Library Culinary Literacy Program. This innovative approach to library design includes three full-service commercial incubator kitchens for aspiring chefs to perfect their cooking craft. When ready, these entrepreneurs can head over to the new Colbern Library Center’s Square One business center to receive assistance in business planning.

In the field of education, our team is collaborating with multiple districts on several early childhood centers, middle schools, secure entrances and performing arts centers. We are also excited to physically integrate a Boys & Girls Club into another new local elementary school to provide before and after school programs.

Within the Midwest, we reside in a tornado alley. Since 2006, our team has proactively and passionately assisted communities with the funding, design, and construction of nearly 80 structures that have protected tens of thousands of people during severe storms. This year we are proud and humbled to continue to work on an additional 12 new such facilities!

We recently received notice that our firm will be receiving recognition this September from 417 Magazine as one of Springfield’s “Best Places to Work” for 2021. We take pride in serving our clients to the best of our ability and our fellow employees by continuously improving and creating a healthy, collaborative culture.

Where do you hope to see your business in 12 months?
With the economic recovery underway, we see expanding growth within our markets. This growth will allow us to continue to invest in new technologies, infrastructure, and our people.

What advice would you offer to someone starting their own small business?
Finding trusted advisors for business operations is essential. This includes legal, accounting, banking, human resources and insurance. This group of professionals can provide a wealth of knowledge to help set your business on a solid foundation to build from. In addition, mentorship from other business owners can offer “lessons learned” and serve as a tremendous support group.

Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center

Posted By Sapp Design – Dec 15 | 2020

It is a great day when the governor of Missouri comes to a Groundbreaking! On Monday, December 15, 2020, Governor Mike Parson helped kick off the Groundbreaking of State Fair Community College’s new Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center. The 38,500 square foot facility will more than double the college’s capacity in precision machining and welding and expand other programs such as industrial maintenance, robotics, logistics, leadership/supervisory skills, and apprenticeships.

Sapp Design Architects has been collaborating with State Fair Community College for about a year to program a facility that will meet the needs of future generations and pays homage to the past through design elements that speak to the college’s first building affectionately known as “Plywood University.”

The Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center will increase the pipeline of students pursuing high-demand, technical careers; provide under-served and nontraditional populations with avenues to obtain technical skills training, and give area employers the opportunity to skill-up and train workers locally. Students will be able to earn certifications in high paying fields and secure jobs to sustain their families today and offer greater opportunities for their children in the future in central Missouri.

This project was made possible with the generous donation by the Olen Howard family and a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Missouri Department of Economic Development in a partnership with the city of Sedalia, as part of the Workforce Training Initiative.

4 Tools an Architecture Design Firm Uses Every Day

Posted By Sapp Design – Nov 19 | 2020

Architect design firms, such as Sapp Design Architects, have come a long way over the decades. We’ve been in business for nearly 35 years, and our firm has seen a lot of changes in the way architects go about their daily tasks. Today’s blog from Sapp Design discusses four tools an architect design firm uses every day.

1. Cameras and Visualization Tools

One important thing we do at Sapp Design involves creating renderings of what the final product may look like. To that end, we take a lot of photos of the existing site with cameras. Then we’ll input the dimensions of a building, what the interior may look like, and any parking lots for the exterior. After these preparations, we’ll create a rendering of the project before crews lift a single shovel of dirt. 

Our staff combines photography and 3D rendering software to give our clients an accurate representation of what their completed building will look like. This type of software is called CADD, or computer-aided design and drafting.

During construction, we may go to a site to take photos of the process. We’ll match the photos to the architectural drawings to make sure the construction crews are following the blueprints exactly.

2. Measuring Tools

Before CADD software can render an accurate drawing, we have to take measurements of the site. We’ll use distance measuring wheels along the ground to determine the dimensions of the plot of land we’re dealing with. Then our staff begins to create scale drawings, much like a traditional paper drawing, except we do our work on computers. It’s vastly more efficient to create drawings on a computer and send them to clients as high-resolution documents rather than draw them on paper using rulers, compasses, and straight edges. 

Some architecture design firms might still use physical paper. Most turn to computers. No matter what medium someone uses, architects have two things in common: A love for math and a love of drawing!

3. Drawing Tools

Architecture design firms must use accurate drawing tools because they work in a visual field and the numbers need to add up. Corners have to be 90 degrees, structural elements have to follow codes, and beams must handle the weight they support. 

But all of those numbers don’t add up to clients who want visually appealing structures as well as functional ones. They need to see what something looks like before it happens. That’s where our rendering and CADD software really does well. Computer programs convert numbers, walls, beams, and doors into visual elements for clients to see. Some of us might use our visual skills to draw on the surface of a tablet computer to give a client an idea of what we have in mind.

4. Tablet Computers

Employees of architecture design firms don’t just sit in offices all day and design buildings. Yes, that’s a major part of our work. But we pride ourselves on being hands-on from our first meeting until the ribbon cutting of your new building.

Our staff takes tablet computers and mobile devices with them wherever they go. Employees can call up architectural drawings, renderings, schematics, electrical and plumbing diagrams, interior design specs, and any little detail of a project.

Honorable Mention: Hardhats

Sapp Design Architects loves to develop relationships with every client we meet. We keep hardhats handy for when our team goes to a construction site or attends a groundbreaking ceremony. We’re just as excited about bringing your building into existence as you are!

Your Architecture Design Firm at Sapp

Sapp Design Architects is your full-service architecture design firm. We serve Southwest Missouri and the Kansas City area. Contact Sapp Design Architects or call (417) 877-9600 for more details on what we can do for you!

2020 Emerging Professional Friendly Firm!

Posted By bsapp – Sep 17 | 2020

We are proud to announce we have been selected as a 2020 Emerging Professional Friendly Firm for the third year in a row by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central States Region!

​An Emerging Professional (EP) is defined by the AIA as a student, recent graduate or architect licensed within the last ten years. The AIA Central States Region (CSR) comprises Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Within the Central States Region, the EP Committee annually awards ‘Emerging Professional Friendly’ status to firms who display an outstanding commitment to the development of their EP Staff.

Sapp Design Architects has received this recognition in 2017, 2018, 2019, and again in 2020!  Our team is proud to support young professionals in their careers through mentorship and vast opportunities to work on a wide range of projects. 

We believe providing collaborative experiences for young professionals to participate in all design process levels leads holistic development process for EPs. As Sapp Design Architects, we even take things a step further by allowing EPs to participate in company-wide planning sessions to steer the firm’s future. 

What Does a Full-Service Architecture Firm Do?

Posted By Sapp Design – Jun 22 | 2020

Many people understand the role of an architect in a very limited way: blueprints, floor plans, and drafting tables. However, full-service architectural firms like Sapp Design provide a much wider range of services that can truly make a real difference for your construction project. 

Read on in today’s blog from Sapp Design to learn the answer to this common question: “What does a full-service architecture firm do?”

1. Guidance from the Beginning

A full-service architecture firm can provide expert guidance from the very beginning, so your vision for the design is fully manifested in the finished project. We can be there with you on the first site visit, to analyze the site and make sure the property is appropriate for your goals. From site selection to concept development and drafting, a full-service architect provides valuable guidance, right from the start.

2. Advanced Technology for Design Development

Sapp Design can create realistic, navigable, three-dimensional renderings of your architectural plans, so you can “try before you buy” and ensure that your architectural design is everything you imagined. Full-service architectural firms utilize cutting-edge technology to ensure every detail is fully planned and properly implemented.

3. The Experience to Keep Costs Under Control

There are hundreds of details that can go awry and become hung up during the construction process. This creates unplanned expenses and costly time delays. Many full-service architectural firms provide cost estimation and construction observation services, ensuring that the project budget is well-established and the construction proceeds according to your budget and timeline. 

4. Peace of Mind You Can Count On

Whether you are building a new location for your business or an academic building for your university campus, you want an architect who can provide certainty. You want certainty about your vision, certainty about your budget, and certainty about your timeline.

You might have investors with high standards. You might have local public officials with fixed completion date requirements. A full-service architectural firm can provide the certainty you need to fulfill the vision of your project, giving you peace of mind you can count on.

Sapp Design Is Your Full-Service Architectural Firm

We have more than 30 years of proven excellence in full-service architectural design in Springfield and Kansas City. Check out our gallery of featured projects to confirm our capabilities. Reach out to the team at Sapp Design to learn more about how a full-service architectural firm can make a difference for your project.

Basic Elements of Safe Room Design

Posted By Sapp Design – May 11 | 2020

Springtime in the Midwest means watching out for severe storms, high winds, and possible tornadoes. Since the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, tornado safe rooms have been a major facet of architectural design. In addition, with recent changes in model codes, safe rooms are now required in most educational facilities.  In today’s blog from Sapp Design Architects, we discuss the basic elements of safe room design.

Design Considerations

Safe room design starts with the reason buildings have these rooms. These structures have two major purposes: safety and functionality to protect people from high winds, forces and debris associated with tornadoes or hurricanes. Safe rooms designed to FEMA guidance and ICC-500 Standards can provide near-absolute life-safety protection from the forces (250 mph winds) of an EF-5 tornado.  Safe rooms can be located and integrated anywhere on the main floor of a structure, in the lower level, or even as a standalone building if properly designed. 

Modern building materials and creative design allow for the inside and outside of a safe room to look like an ordinary office space, classroom, or gathering hall. However, structural design elements for safe rooms make them able to withstand extremely high winds as well as resist the forces from an EF-5 tornado. 

Reinforced Concrete

Reinforced or prestressed concrete is the industry standard for safe room design. This means pouring concrete into slabs that contain steel rebar grids or pretensioned steel at regular intervals and designed to utilize the strength of these materials in unison to create a wall capable of withstanding the winds and forces of a tornado.  

Safe rooms can be made of concrete poured on site or prefabricated, prestressed concrete panel designs that are poured in a facility and transported to the site and erected. Concrete filled reinforced masonry block is another popular construction type for safe rooms.   


Doors are a critical component of safe room design. Without proper doors, debris can puncture door assemblies. Manufacturers of safe room door assemblies must certify that products meet or exceed ICC 500 standards for the design and construction of storm shelters. Steel door assemblies must be tested to resist the impact and pressure created by the forces and debris that hits structures during a tornado. Not only must the door resist impacts, but the hardware, hinges, and joints also must be able to withstand the pressure and wind forces of a tornado.

Air Circulation and Lighting

Safe room design also includes essential air circulation and fresh air requirements to meet current codes.  Most safe rooms will have a generator to provide temporary emergency power for lights and ventilation in the event of power failures, however, care must be taken in the design of vents to keep debris and water out of the safe rooms.  Other forms of popular emergency power are a series of battery units. 

Safe Room Design From Sapp

Tornado safe rooms don’t have to be small. Our team can design your tornado safe room that can fit anywhere from just dozens to several thousand people/students.  Integration into schools or private facilities such as in a classroom wing, auditorium, gymnasium or other multi-purpose spaces can be seamless while providing much-needed protection for the occupants or community. We can also help your business or multi-family residential housing implement a safe room design built to current FEMA and ICC standards to protect those occupants. Contact Sapp Design Architects or call (417) 877-9600 for more information.


Posted By Sapp Design – Mar 24 | 2020

We are taking the necessary precautions recommended by the CDC and local officials. This is in an effort to do our part in keeping our staff, family, clients, and community safe. Although we are working remotely we are 100% operational and able to provide the same high level of service our company has always provided. Should you have any questions, contact us as usual by email or phone.

Maplecrest Elementary Ground Breaking.

Posted By Sapp Design – Jan 14 | 2020

On January The 14th Lebanon school district broke ground on a new gymnasium and cafeteria expansion at its Maplecrest Elementary School campus as part of a phased master plan.

Lebanon’s 2nd/3rd-grade school building had approximately 57% of the square footage required for their student population. In addition, the traditional classrooms lining the double-loaded corridors provided few opportunities for collaborative learning pedagogies.

The current renovations and additions are the first step in a multi-phase solution to utilize the existing structure but provide the necessary modern-day spaces (and a new identity) for the students and teachers.  Additions will include a 10,000 square foot ICC-500 rated Safe Room that doubles as a full-court gymnasium and performance space, complete with stage, protected stage lighting and A/V, drama storage, office, and telescopic bleachers.

In this first phase, the gym/Safe Room is joined to the existing school by a connector that will perform as a drop off / entry until the remaining phases connect back to the rest of the school.  Under the philosophy that the sum is greater than its parts, the connector serves more than circulation. It provides two additional collaboration stations in spaces that would otherwise act as corridors.  Attention to the walls and minimal alcoves provide opportunities for co-teaching, peer tutoring, and small group activities.

The addition of the gym allowed the existing cafeteria to take over the existing undersized multipurpose space and undergo a complete transformation into a multi-media center, continuing education space and expanded Commons.  Within the newly renovated walls of the cafeteria, hubs of spontaneous small group learning are docked around the perimeter.  Both sides of the space can function as two separate educational spaces for seminars.  Both spaces can be combined for district-wide staff development days.  Within the Commons, the focal wall acts as a Collaboration Station that includes A/V, bookshelves, display cases, and marker boards.   Large windows open to the once closed-off corridors of the past to create visual connectivity through the Commons.

“Lebanon has tremendous pride in their schools and this project is the result of the 2015 bond issue to construct the new Lebanon Middle School. As a result of that project coming in under budget, this project was made possible,” Campbell said. “So thank you, Lebanon R-3 stakeholders for making this dream possible today.”