Deepening our deepest bench

September 27, 2022 / Bruce Miller

Populous is all about people — it’s in our name. Our people are our greatest strength, our most valuable asset, and what make us who we are. As a global design firm, we thrive with insights from our diverse, creative talent and technical experts across multiple disciplines.

As we continue making bold design solutions a reality, we are attracting a variety of new talent to join our global firm. From senior-level designers who bring a wealth of firsthand knowledge to mid- and entry-level applicants ready to take on new challenges, we are welcoming a wealth of diverse thought and expertise. Over the past year alone, our Americas region has added nearly 100 new employees, including several high-profile hires from officer-level associate to principal level. This brings us to around 400 Americas-based employees and around 800 employees across the world.

We’ve likened this growth to ‘deepening the deepest bench’ in sports and entertainment design, and it’s true. For the 2021 calendar year, Populous was ranked the No. 1 design firm in the world for both sports project revenue and entertainment project revenue by Engineering News-Record. This aligns perfectly with a major influx of requests across the world to develop new experiences. It’s an exciting time for us as we have grown to be the firm with the depth that can create these new opportunities. It helps us uphold a major tenet of our practice: that each project, no matter its size of scale, tells its own, unique story that reflects and enhances its place.

  • When renovating for one of the premier football programs and collegiate brands in the nation, Kelly Holton focused on the athlete’s journey, designing a transformative environment that matched the stature of the program and its brand.
  • Adam Paulitsch led the design of the MAPS 3 Oklahoma City Convention Center, which challenged the rules set for typical convention centers and transformed the downtown scene while staying true to the deep roots of the city.

As a firm founded on innovation and the confidence to pursue big ideas, it’s this vision for design excellence that has led Fast Company to name Populous one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies for 2022, ranking Populous as No. 1 in architecture.

Recently, we have been reminded of the high level of talent that exists at Populous through exciting employee industry recognition. Kelly Holton has been named to VenuesNow’s 2022 Impact: NextGen for her leadership as our brand activation director, where she brings brands to life in memorable ways for every fan. Jac Griffiths was named to Sports Business Journal’s New Voices Under 30 Class of 2022 for his focused leadership on sustainable design and placemaking. Two of our senior-level designers, Adam Paulitsch and Geoff Cheong, were recognized on Forty Under 40 lists for Engineering News-Record and Sports Business Journal, respectively.

So, what’s keeping these innovative leaders here and attracting people to join our team? Here’s what we have heard over the past year: We are consistently surrounding ourselves with people who we can learn from, who push us, ask the hard questions and help identify creative solutions. This allows us to evolve and grow together, while responding to the exciting influx of new developments.

  • Lead designer of Climate Pledge Arena, Geoff Cheong, designed the world’s first dual suspended professional arena scoreboards. This signature design is based on an analysis of spectator and athlete sightlines, bolstering the fan experience and connecting the audience to the action for faceoffs, free throws and inbounding plays.

We are global by design.

Collaboration is in the DNA of our design culture. We bring the best ideas from around the world to our work in distinct communities. That’s what contributes to our leadership in the design of stadia, arenas, large-scale venues and live events. We create unmistakable spaces and experiences for the most recognizable names in sports and entertainment.

We transform.

Populous designs at the intersection of sports, entertainment, arts and culture. It’s within that intersection where we flourish. Our cross-sector design approach sets us apart, both to personnel and to clients. It’s often said in our workspaces that if you have an idea, go chase it. It simply makes us all better. And, we’ve seen this approach pay off time and time again. This entrepreneurial spirit allows us to continue to produce the next great iconic experience.

We are creatives.

The cities, communities and clients we work with often find it helpful that we highly appreciate every aspect of design, from interiors, branding and graphics, to the technical aspects of design and fine details. With this expertise in-house, we can create spaces that are excellent in every way, where the design of a space includes the vision for the interiors and the branding right from the beginning, ensuring a bespoke, cohesive and unified design process and experience. We also intentionally dedicate time to reflect on our design practices to generate inspiration and critical discussion. We recently completed Global Design Reviews, an event that brings together our global leaders and teams to reflect, inspire and critically discuss ongoing design work.

As we look ahead, we have even more talent interested in joining our firm. This is a great reflection of the vision we’ve set for ourselves. Welcoming these great designers lets us do what we do best. It’s what allows the firm to simultaneously take on new stadium builds, historic reimaginings of iconic venues, bespoke hospitality experiences and innovative facilities to better the athletes, fans and communities of tomorrow — all at once.

Meet the author

Bruce Miller

Senior Principal, Managing Director – Americas / Kansas City


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