HLR Architects Celebrates a Milestone Anniversary

Our firm’s history began in the early 1970s, when young architects David Lipp, Tom Helbing, and Paul Salditt left the Alexandria VA firm of VVKR, an architectural firm that that launched several other Northern Virginia firms. The three young entrepreneurs began producing work together 1973; one of their first projects was an addition to Calvary Road Baptist Church in Franconia area of Alexandria. They incorporated the company as “Salditt Lipp and Helbing Ltd.” in 1978 and settled into office space in the Tysons Corner area, where the firm stayed until 2016. In 1981, Mr. Salditt left the firm, so Tom and Dave renamed the firm “Helbing Lipp Ltd. Architects Engineers.” since Tom was both an architect and a structural engineer.

Our early firm enjoyed success, designing renovations for many Safeway grocery stores, as well as Hechinger’s home improvement stores and several local bank chains.  They also began what has become a 40+ year relationship with McDonalds Restaurants.

Our firm also designed several schools in Fairfax and surrounding counties in Northern Virgina. Seeing the potential of furthering school design to the west, in 1983 we opened a branch office in Charles Town, West Virginia, about an hour west of the Tysons Corner office. That office assisted the Jefferson County School district with a bond call that resulted in over a dozen school addition and renovation projects. We used this experience to help other counties in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia secure state funding for school projects and we also designed churches, office buildings, day care centers and other buildings in that area. Our branch office celebrates its 40th year in the historic Sadler Block building this year.

Under David Lipp’s guidance, our firm was always passionate about designing church sanctuaries and other religious facilities. Over the years we became one of the premier church design specialists in the DMV area, a specialty that extends to this day. This expertise grew to include other related projects for religious entities – such as master planning, fellowship halls, Sunday School classroom additions and several private school buildings and renovations.

Our firm’s current Owner, John Recny, joined the firm “only” 25 years ago. John’s career started in 1981 when he worked in the DC office of a large Oklahoma-based firm that specialized in historic office building renovations. His first major project was the National Press Building renovation in the early 1980s, and he also worked on several other mid-80s office building renovations in DC. But his passion for church design began in 1986, when he began working with a small firm in Alexandria, also run by former VVKR alumni – Dave Gallagher and Bill Rousos. That was when John decided to dedicate a large part of his career to helping church clients realize their building goals. His professional journey took him to a Fairfax firm that also specialized in religious architecture, and finally to Helbing Lipp Ltd. in 1998. John’s professional dedication to working with faith communities fit right in with David’s passion for religious design and they worked on many such projects together.

After ten years, John became one of the Owners of the firm. In 2013, founding partner Tom Helbing retired. John and David changed the firm’s name to “Helbing Lipp Recny Architects”, now informally known as HLR Architects. Founding partner David Lipp retired at the end of 2016, leaving the firm in second generation Owner John’s hands. For the last seven years, John has moved the firm forward while maintaining the high ethical values, practicality and common sense that have always been the cornerstones of the practice.

We are proud to have designed hundreds of religious facilities, schools, government buildings, restaurants, and more. As we celebrate our 50th year of faithfully serving our clients, we thank our team of engineering consultants, the contractors who execute our designs, and our former and current employees. We especially thank each one of our clients who have put their faith and trust in our abilities. Without you, our success would not be possible.

HLR Architects is proud of our first 50 years and we are looking forward to many exciting things to come!

If your congregation, organization, school or business is considering a new building or renovation project, please Contact Us. We would be honored to be your architect as we begin the next 50 years!