April 2022 marked 60 years in business, and the firm’s theme for the year is “A Year of Gratitude,” as we look back on the partnerships and communities we’ve had the chance to serve over 60 years.  

“We are proud to be part of Grand Rapids’ and now Charlotte’s vibrant architecture and engineering community for 60 years and counting,” said President and CEO Brad Thomas. “Now working in 48 states, we have had the opportunity to work on some dynamic, complex, and impactful projects throughout our years in business and we’re grateful for the trust and opportunities we’ve been given. We look forward to continuing to serve clients across the Midwest, Southeast, and nationally for many years to come.” 

From modest beginnings of four original engineering partners in 1962, to over 230 employees serving clients across the nation today, Progressive AE has always thrived on an entrepreneurial mindset. As an employee-owned business, Progressive AE’s workforce strives to represent the firm’s values of leadership, learning, trust, and diversity, all while working creatively, strategically, and collaboratively to serve clients and have fun doing it.  

The firm has led iconic projects throughout Grand Rapids including the DeVos Place  Convention Center and Performance Hall, and John Ball Zoo’s Bissell Tree House. More than twenty years of professional collaborations with artists, sculptors, designers, and contractors at Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park have also been a highlight.  

Progressive AE has received over one hundred design awards, including being recognized as the AIA Firm of the Year in Michigan multiple times with the most recent being in 2018, and Charlotte, NC in 2019. It has been ranked as one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the nation. The firm is also a member of ONE Global Design, a network of entrepreneurial owner-led design firms in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and India. This partnership allows the firm affiliate status and the ability to practice throughout these regions. 

In 2016 the firm merged with ai Design Group in Charlotte, NC and continues to serve clients in that geographic market. One recently completed project is the Envision Charlotte Innovation Barn, which serves as ground zero for Circular Charlotte, a joint venture between Envision Charlotte and the City of Charlotte to transition the city to a circular economy. The Innovation Barn is home to several entrepreneurial businesses and zero-waste initiatives, as well as community spaces for education. It is the first innovation center in the United States fully focused on transition to a circular economy.  

At the end of the day, the best design is about improving people’s lives, and the firm is grateful to be part of so many client journeys that have served people and communities well.  

A community campaign, “60 Ways to Say Thank You,” is planned for Progressive AE employees to give back to their local communities in Grand Rapids, MI and Charlotte, NC each month of the year. The firm will kick off the campaign in April by participating in Earth Day through a tree-planting event in Charlotte and collecting 60 bags of trash from community parks and neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. Other scheduled events include a walk/bike/ride wellness charity drive in May, scheduled volunteer service days in June, and a school supply drive in August.  

Teammates in Charlotte volunteered with Trees Charlotte in honor of Earth Day.

About Progressive AE 

Our workforce is a unique blend of creative people who think strategically, and strategic people who work creatively. The firm is guided by a fundamental and forward-thinking philosophy, Performance Based Design, which is a commitment to driving organizational performance for clients. Progressive AE has provided innovative and sustainable architectural and engineering services for 60 years. The firm is a privately held, employee-owned company with offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Charlotte, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.progressiveae.com.