SmithGroupJJR Launches New Leadership Team

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Medici, Sykes and Thompson elected to lead nation’s oldest architecture and engineering firm

(from left to right) Mike Medici, Russ Sykes and Troy Thompson

(from left to right) Mike Medici, Russ Sykes and Troy Thompson have been elected to lead SmithGroupJJR

The firm’s new leadership team concludes a six-year succession process undertaken to continue the 162-year-old firm’s legacy and take it into the future.

SmithGroupJJR, one of the largest architecture, engineering and planning firms in the U.S., has named Mike Medici, Russ Sykes and Troy Thompson as managing partners to assume corporate leadership of the firm. The three were elected by the SmithGroupJJR Board of Directors at the firm’s annual meeting on May 18, 2015.

Medici, Sykes and Thompson replace Carl Roehling and Randy Swiech, who since 2001 served as president & CEO and chief operating officer, respectively. Both Roehling and Swiech will continue to practice with the firm and remain on its Board of Directors. David R. H. King continues in his role as chairman.

“We’re the country’s longest practicing architecture and engineering firm, and we take that legacy very seriously,” King said. “Our objective is to preserve our long-standing reputation for excellence while positioning the firm for future success.”

Mike Medici, AIA, becomes the firm’s 12th president in its 162-year history. In the role of president and managing partner, he will head SmithGroupJJR’s eight client industry-focused practices and firmwide marketing. A 34-year veteran with the firm, Medici formerly served as Learning Practice leader. He started with SmithGroupJJR at its Detroit office in 1981 and nine years later relocated to direct the firm’s office in Phoenix. Over the ensuing two decades, the office rose to become one of Arizona’s top ranked architecture and engineering practices. In 2009 with the firm’s addition of a Dallas location, Medici was tapped to oversee both offices until he was promoted to Learning Practice leader in 2013.

Medici, whose areas of special expertise include design excellence and sustainability, has led several of the firm’s most significant projects of the past decade. They include the $135 million, LEED Platinum Energy Systems Integration Facility for the U.S. Department of Energy, completed in 2013 at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado. In Arizona, Medici was principal-in-charge for the firm’s design of Chandler City Hall, an award-winning municipal complex and destination in downtown Chandler, Arizona; and SmithGroupJJR’s first Net-Zero Energy project: the new Phoenix regional office for DPR Construction. A registered architect and member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Medici graduated from Lawrence Technological University with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture followed by a Bachelor of Architecture.

Russ Sykes, PE, LEED AP, managing partner, will lead SmithGroupJJR’s 10 offices and focus on the firm’s project delivery process and operations. Previously, he managed the Science & Technology studio at the Detroit office and also served as director of China operations. Sykes joined SmithGroupJJR in 1985 as an electrical engineer and through the years was promoted to management roles at the firm’s 200-employee Detroit office, including director of operations and office director. In 2013, he was integral in SmithGroupJJR’s establishment of a new office in Shanghai; as a managing partner, Sykes will continue to champion the firm’s growth in China.

Sykes is a recognized authority in technically complex projects. Among the SmithGroupJJR projects for which he’s currently serving as principal-in-charge are the 468,000-square-meter (5-million-square-foot) automotive research and development center in Changchun for First Automotive Works, China’s top manufacturer of passenger cars and commercial trucks and busses; and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a 230,000-square-foot national user facility under construction in East Lansing, Michigan for nuclear science funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Michigan State University and the State of Michigan, scheduled to be operational in 2020. A professional engineer, Sykes graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Troy Thompson, AIA, LEED AP, managing partner, will direct SmithGroupJJR’s initiatives in talent development, research, knowledge management, and innovative planning and design tools and processes. He formerly served as the director of operations for the firm’s Washington, DC office, having joined the firm in 2006 as a principal in the Learning and Cultural studios.

A specialist in historic preservation, Thompson has played a major role in growing the firm’s Cultural Practice. For SmithGroupJJR, he served as principal-in-change for the two-year, $12 million renovation of the White House Visitors Center. The 16,000-square-foot space offers a unique educational experience that complements a tour of the White House while alternatively serving as a standalone experience. In 2014, Thompson was appointed to the U.S. International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS), a non-governmental international organization dedicated to the conservation of the world's monuments and sites. Thompson is a registered architect and member of the AIA, Association for Preservation Technology International, and the Society of Architectural Historians. He holds a Master’s degree in American History from George Mason University, preceded by Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Philosophy degrees from Ball State University.

Election Concludes Six-Year Process for Leadership Succession
The election of Medici, Sykes and Thompson as the firm’s new leadership team concludes a six-year succession process undertaken to continue the 162-year-old firm’s legacy and take it into the future. Realizing that the transition needed to be seamless, management appointed a succession committee to determine desired qualities and skills; ultimately, a team of three individuals was recommended to provide the firm with greater capacity for innovation and growth. Following, a separate nominating committee selected Medici, Sykes and Thompson as best suited to direct the firm based on their diverse and complementary skillsets and aptitudes. Between fall 2014 and the May 2015 Board election, the three embarked on a process of shadowing outgoing President & CEO Roehling and Chief Operating Officer Swiech.

Medici, Sykes and Thompson are underway with a long range planning process that will address key issues in design, diversity and the environment. Each continues to reside in their original office location – Medici in Phoenix, Sykes in Detroit, and Thompson in Washington, DC.

Medici, Sykes and Thompson reflect on SmithGroupJJR in a new video, SmithGroupJJR: This is How We Roll, during which they talk about the firm’s delivery of innovative, sustainable, and technically superior projects around the world.

SmithGroupJJR ( is a recognized integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm in the U.S. The 900-employee firm has office locations across the U.S. and in Shanghai, China and is organized into eight client industry-focused practices: Health, Workplace, Learning, Science & Technology, Cultural, Campus, Waterfront and Urban Design. SmithGroupJJR is one of the nation’s top ranked in sustainable design with 124 LEED certified projects and 360 LEED accredited professionals.

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Sandra Knight, APR
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