RDG’s Iowa office announces next-generation leadership transition

The Iowa business center of RDG Planning & Design, which serves clients nationally from offices in Des Moines, Omaha, St Louis, Iowa City, and Dubuque, is pleased to announce executive leadership changes.  Al Oberlander and Davis Sanders have formally transitioned firm leadership roles to Justin Platts, new President, and Jack Patton, Chief Operating Officer. Oberlander will continue as a member of the Board of Directors while focusing on serving clients and developing collaborative opportunities. Sanders will remain active with clients on select special projects.

“It’s been nearly two decades since RDG declared itself a Design Firm free from the labels of discipline,” said Platts. “We have curated a remarkably talented group of people who all believe that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of the degree or license they hold.”

During the past two years RDG’s Iowa offices have been implementing a series of strategic transitions in firm leadership and management roles. [See below for a full list of RDG’s current Iowa leadership team.] Since its founding, RDG has intentionally developed new generations of leaders from within its ranks, cultivating a culture of creativity, with a high standard of quality and an appetite for expanding both internal and global understandings of the positive impact of collaborative design. This latest transition is part of a carefully crafted plan that involved analyzing what the future of design, planning, construction, and client service will look like, and how the firm could evolve its current strengths and build new ones in such areas as automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

“It’s been clear since I joined RDG in 1979 that planning was the foundation of our firm – not just planning with our clients, but also planning within the firm,” said Sanders. “For our firm to grow, we had to plan for that growth. That’s what we’ve done throughout our 50-plus years in Des Moines.

“Leadership transition is easy,” added Oberlander, “in an organization blessed with multiple strong future leaders, with a collaborative team culture, and where everyone works to advance the “why” of the organization – Create. Meaning. Together.   That is what’s made this gradual two-year leadership transition so seamless.”

“Our clients keep winning as this design firm evolves – I’ve seen this throughout my 25 years at RDG” said Patton. “Our transition is seamless, planful, and smart. We have a dynamic group of forward-thinking and change-embracing individuals, all firmly rooted in what RDG has always been about: collaboration, creativity, and service – founded on great design.”

“Thank you to Al and Davis for decades of consistent, strong, and innovative leadership,” said Platts. “To say that we are enthusiastic about our future is an understatement. If there is a limit to what our people can do I’ve not seen it. It’s good to be us!”

The current Iowa business center leadership team of RDG Planning & Design includes:


  • Justin Platts, President
  • Jack Patton, Chief Operating Officer
  • Scott Crawford, Marketing
  • Patrick Dunn, People
  • David Dahlquist, Design
  • Phil Hodgin, Clients
  • Al Oberlander, Clients

Senior Partners

  • Craig Bullis, Quality Control
  • Mike Chambers, Engineering
  • Naura Godar, Construction
  • Cathy Neumann, StrengthFinders
  • Matt Niebuhr, Cross Collaboration
  • Ron Heims, Technology
  • Sam Smith, Risk Management and Benefits

RDG has been honored with over 475 design awards, garnered from a variety of institutions that include the American Institution of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architecture, International Interior Design Association, American Planning Association, and many others.

Current RDG Planning & Design national rankings in Building Design+Construction Magazine Giants 300 Report:

  • Top 110 A/E firms – #50
  • Top 95 Sports Architecture Firms – #16
  • Top 150 Multi-Family Architecture Firms – #46
  • Top 160 Healthcare Architecture Firms – #68
  • Top 110 Hotel Architecture Firms – #80
  • Top 175 University Architecture Firms – #92
  • Top 200 Office Architecture Firms – #102
  • Top 195 Reconstruction Architecture Firms – #137


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