Rethinking Springfield: The future of work

Posted By Sapp Design – Apr 28 | 2022

The last two years of quarantine and social distancing have caused us to reimagine what “work” looks like. Because of COVID, employees adapted to working from home and other non-traditional spaces, and the trend is here to stay. Companies such as Forbes and CBRE are publishing articles stating that the future of the office is remote work and it will continue to gain momentum even after the pandemic is over. A recent study, published by Gartner Inc., shows  82% of company leaders intend to permit remote work at least some of the time.[i] In addition, 47% of companies intend to allow employees to work remotely full time.[ii] After working from home, employees are craving autonomy over their environment. Employees want to have a more collaborative experience in their office, whether that be more flexible furniture, small-group conference rooms, or just a space that is different from the typical desk. In addition, employees are craving a connection to the environment through views, trails, and outdoor activities that would bring new life into the average office environment. These typical office environments are no longer enough, and employers need to adapt to meet this trend.

Walmarts New Headquarters -Bentonville, Arkansas

Companies such as Walmart have imagined a new work environment in Bentonville, AR on their home campus. The campus not only includes office space but also provides fitness centers, restaurants, coffee shops, and daycare for its employees.[iii] A unique feature, based on location, is that it uses bike and pedestrian trails to invite the public onto the campus and direct them to nearby adjacencies like Crystal Bridges. This design begins to make “work” less of a grind, and more of an ideal experience for employees and the community. However, that’s just a single corporation. A more compelling and rising movement in addressing the growing pains of a changing workforce can be observed through the success of a company like WeWork. “Billed as something of an in-person social media network in 2010, the premise was simple: It was a place where startup employees and freelancers could find community, but more than that, it was a place where work and life just became one and the same.” [iv] The workplace environment provides office space for entrepreneurs through a membership-based fee structure.[v] As members, they now have an office space, separate from their home, with all the tools that they need to make each small business successful.

But what is the next evolutionary step in this newly emerging workforce model? Sapp Design Architects asked the question, “what if the coworking model became a destination workplace?” and, “What does this mean for Springfield, Missouri?” Sapp Design looked at the Springfield Region Major Employers as of Summer 2019 to understand the magnitude of the change within this region of Missouri. Looking at just the top 18 employers in the region, there are approximately 61,287 people.[vi] Based on the statistic mentioned earlier of 47% of employees working remotely full-time, that would equate to approximately 28,800 people now working in a nontraditional office setting. Imagine if even half of these employees will seek a workplace outside of the house. 37% of employers are actively willing to hire from anywhere in the world.[vii] Alongside the Great resignation lies a relocation trend as well.  Imagine if just a small percentage of employees selected Springfield as their new ideal home base.

Sapp Design poses the question: What does this change look like in our community? Where would you accommodate a workforce this large in Springfield?

Overall Site

The answer? The James River Power Plant at Lake Springfield. As an icon of Springfield and the massive scale of the building act as a landmark for the region. The James River Power Plant has historically been associated with the innovation of Springfield, and now that it is being decommissioned, the plant needs to serve a new purpose. From large-scale open spaces built with durable materials, the existing building has ample room for flexible work environments and maker spaces in order to meet the trend of the Future of Work. But, what makes this place truly special is its connection to the lake and the surrounding park. No other office environment in Springfield could offer this same experience. With its already established access to nature and the Greenway trails, this site could provide it all; like kayak courses, boardwalks, bike trails, and an outdoor amphitheater. The James River Power Plant could not only serve as a destination workplace but as a recreation hub. This is an ideal environment for both entrepreneurs and established businesses looking to attract new employees while cutting down overhead through a workplace membership similar to WeWork’s model.

Sapp Design's Concept for the James River Power Station
Sapp Design’s Concept for the James River Power Station

The idea of renovating a decommissioned power plant is prevalent across the United States. If places like St. Louis can renovate a power plant to become a place to educate and provide a unique indoor rock climbing experience, then a destination workplace is not a far stretch in comparison. Companies like Climb So Ill have managed to use an icon like the smokestacks, to provide a new and modern recreational approach that is unique to its region. Other projects, like The Bailey Power Plant in Salem, Massachusetts, bring new energy into their community by providing spaces to interact, socialize, and recreate through new retail and entertainment spaces.  

The ideas that Sapp Design Architects has begun to imagine are not new to Springfield. During Forward SGF meetings, Springfieldians have already expressed desires to connect the Greenway Trails, and have more green spaces incorporated into the city. Lake Springfield is an area that could provide all of this to the Springfield region and beyond. The Future of Work is already here, and what better place than the James River Power Plant at Lake Springfield.





[v] us/2021/04/10401535/where-is-adam-neumann-now-wework-explained#:~:text=Neumann%20founded%20WeWork%2C%20billed%20as,social%20media%20network%2C%20in%202010.



Happy 35th Anniversary

Posted By Sapp Design – Feb 9 | 2022

Today we celebrate 35 years working with our Senior Project Manager Pam Haldiman! Pam is a huge part of Sapp Designs Architects’ success, having worked on over 900+ projects, specifically in the area of Safe Rooms, which will protect 1000s of people across the midwest. Not only is her work immensely appreciated she has been a great mentor to all who have worked with her. So with that being said, we say thank you and happy work anniversary!

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.

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.