ENV: Female-Led Design Firm Shaping Richmond’s Future
Centuries-old neighborhoods, cobblestone streets and tourist-friendly tours – Richmond, Virginia has much to offer those interested in learning about the past. Due to the creative work of a female-led architecture firm, modern, contemporary design is a growing element in this historic city.
Whitney Campbell and Laura Marcus-Plant launched ENV Virginia in 2018, a local office of the ENV architectural brand founded in New York City and now represented throughout the United States.
If the name isn’t familiar, you may recognize legacy ENV’s work. The company, founded in 1946, was among the first to use NASA technology for computer-generated drafting and was instrumental in the design of Chicago’s Sears Tower. Marcus-Plant and Campbell are now making a mark of their own in Virginia’s capital.
“We’re proud of the legacy we’ve inherited from this 75-year old firm,” Campbell says.
Campbell herself started at the New York office before receiving an opportunity to open a Virginia branch. In fact, the duo opened the first new ENV office in several years.
The move was the right one for ENV as evidenced by the Virginia portfolio since the launch. Marcus-Plant and Campbell have cultivated relationships with five Fortune 500 companies in Richmond to design a high-caliber office space. They also completed the first renovation to Dominion Energy’s new tower, as well as a large-scale redesign for Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Like any good design, Marcus-Plant and Campbell knew a strong foundation for ENV Virginia had to include taking care of their employees. They made it a point to offer comprehensive benefits to their working parents, including flexibility to work from home.
“We have an incredible staff who desire a work-life balance,” Campbell adds.
They also realize the importance of their impact and leadership in a traditionally male business. “There are very few women in architectural, engineering and construction fields, and we feel honored to pioneer and represent women in this industry,” Campbell adds.
Despite their impressive client roster and innovative design projects, ENV Virginia is a small business, with Marcus-Plant and Campbell as first-time entrepreneurs. They needed financing to obtain office space, but they hadn’t taken on any debt before.
The duo first worked with a larger national bank but found themselves wanting a more personalized approach. They turned SouthState for its blend of small business expertise and one-on-one banker attention. Campbell says it was the connection with Commercial Relationship Manager Josh Holder that made the difference.
“He gave us a lot of information early in our process that allowed us to make informed decisions about how much we could spend,” she says.
Offering additional financial support in the way of deposit accounts and treasury services, Holder looks forward to a long-lasting partnership between ENV and SouthState.
“I enjoy taking a collaborative approach when working with leaders like Laura and Whitney. They understand what’s important for their business. My goal as their commercial relationship manager is to facilitate their continued success,” he adds. “We’re here to build lasting relationships, evolving alongside our clients as their needs develop and change. I’m grateful to be a part of ENV’s story and look forward to their success for years to come.”
Marcus-Plant and Campbell were equally attracted to how SouthState’s core values match up with ENV, specifically Local Market Leadership and Greater Purpose. Both companies give leaders at the local level decision-making power they need to ensure long-term growth, and both set aside time and money to improve their communities.
Campbell says. “It’s been wonderful to balance work and life.”
ENV Richmond desires to build a long-term connection with Holder and plans to move its operating budget to SouthState in the future.
“I’d wholeheartedly recommend SouthState to other small business owners,” Campbell says.