LGA architect uses architecture to transform people, sustain projects for generations

Firm prides itself in not building buildings for the sake of building buildings

Deb BerginLAS VEGAS – Deb Bergin didn’t know what to expect when she moved from Southern California to Las Vegas in 1983. A graduate of the University of Southern California, she was ready to stretch her architecture skills. She worked on the Summerlin Library for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, medical buildings and campus buildings for the College of Southern Nevada, but it wasn’t until she took a job at LGA 13 years ago that her niche finally clicked.

“I’ve been doing this for so long it’s not a big interest to me to just go and design a building,” said Bergin, who serves LGA as an architect. “I think there has to be a higher order of goals for me. I wouldn’t want to design houses, and there are people who do.”

The Springs Preserve, which she worked on for seven years, opened her eyes to a larger view of architecture – one that involved people and spaces and not just buildings for the sake of buildings. There was a holistic approach she missed in her earlier work.

“The Springs Preserve was all about teaching people to be of the desert,” she said. More goes into designing a project than sheer vision. Looking at it from all angles – from business plan to ultimate goals – help shape a project. “That was a transformational goal for The Springs Preserve. We look across all the client’s goals. It’s not just creating a physical space.”

Since The Springs Preserve, Bergin has moved on to like-minded projects such as the Santa Monica Mountain at the King Gillette Ranch in Southern California and the Spring Mountain Visitor Gateway near the Mount Charleston Resort.

“They all are transformational. The clients had ideas to transform the visitors through education and sustainability,” Bergin said. Education leads to a feeling of ownership, which can sustain a project for generations. “If the public considers it their own, you can develop partnerships where people will take care of that place.”

With the term “green” thrown around now more than ever, more clients seek sustainability – or at least an education on the matter. In the past, architects tried to solve building’s problems by turning to technology that ultimately failed. LGA decided to get back to basics.

The firm chooses to approach buildings as spaces meant to serve its occupants in the best way possible. Part of this idea is going back to the details of architecture. Computers and their software are tools to help convey ideas to clients, deliver a final project, sketch ideas and make the communication and delivery of ideas easier all around. They are not to be used in the place of intuitive design, Bergin said.

“This firm pursues those types of projects. As a firm, we’ve gotten really good at it. We spend a lot of time with our clients. We learn who they are and what they want to achieve,” Bergin said. “We took it back to a basic, ancient methodology. It’s not an add-on service. It’s just how we operate. It’s the way we are.”

Established in 1986, LGA is a cross-disciplinary, client-centered consulting firm that brings together the disciplines of architecture, sociology and sustainability using a collaborative, participatory and community-based process. Best known for its work on the LEED-certified Springs Preserve master plan and one of only a handful of Platinum LEED-certified buildings in the world, the Desert Living Center at the Springs Preserve, LGA has been a longtime advocate of green design and green living.

For more information on LGA, call 702-263-7111 or visit www.lgainc.com.