History & Background

Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative (OLC) is an international architectural firm, founded in 1961 and  headquartered in Denver with offices in Orlando, Tokyo and Cairo. We are committed, enthusiastic and driven to deliver stellar architecture, interior design and aquatic design.

For the past 31 years, we have focused on athletic, fitness and wellness facilities, including athletic/sports clubs, commercial fitness centers, medically-based wellness centers, recreation centers, spas, and a broad range of aquatic projects.

Our design process is enriched by collaborative spirit, creative commitment and a client-centered attitude. We partner clients’ business insights with our aesthetic vision, deep experience, and problem solving skills to create a successful design project. 

Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative strives to achieve innovation and design excellence while maintaining cost control and functional accommodation.  We commit to truly understanding your specific needs and giving maximum impact for every dollar invested.  We appreciate our clients' insight and judgment, incorporating your desires throughout our design process.  We tailor our services to effectively serve the interests of each individual client because we believe our success as designers is built upon the foundation of understanding our clients' vision.   

Everyone at OLC is committed to truly understanding each client’s unique needs and adding value through design by creating maximum impact for each dollar invested. Value-conscious, client-centered, custom-fitted design is a strategic investment for every owner. We honor that investment by using intelligent design to produce a measurable return.   

    Our Design Niches


Integrated Medical Fitness Centers

In 1985, OLC completed design work on one of the nation’s first Integrated Medical Fitness Centers (IMFC) for Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois. Fast forward to 2013 and find 39 more IMFCs completed by OLC for healthcare institutions ranging from Boston to San Diego. It has been OLC’s privilege to play a pioneering role in the birth of an industry – our work has set a standard of excellence and operational success for a building type that did not even exist before 1985.  And it is worthy of note that even now, 28 years later, every OLC-designed medical fitness center remains operationally active and financially sustainable.

One might think that our deep experience would make all of these facilities very similar to each other.  Quite the contrary – it is that experience that influences the differentiating forces of each building.  It is our commitment to design excellence that allows each of these 40 centers to be unique in the meaningful ways that create a fit-to-purpose, design solution. Each facility is a one-of-a-kind design, customized to fit the mission, market, program and operational model established by the individual healthcare entity. 

Athletic Clubs

In 1982, when the fitness industry was still in its infancy and “going to the club” meant golf, tennis or swimming,  OLC created Racquet World at Inverness, Denver’s first full-service athletic club with aerobics rooms, swimming pools, racquetball courts, indoor tennis, running track and weight machines. Thirty years and several hundred projects later, our firm remains the industry leader in health and fitness design. OLC’s portfolio of athletic and fitness club projects totals more than 10 million square feet with a construction value over $1 billion.

Athletic club programming and design have come a long way in those decades, with step aerobics giving way to spinning classes and racquetball’s popularity usurped by CrossFit groups. Our design expertise has grown with the industry. OLC’s designers know that maximum daylighting, open circulation, amenity-rich locker rooms and flexible group exercise studios enrich members’ experience and give club owners the most bang for their investment dollar. Our focus on open plan design allows for best use of space, provides opportunities for intuitive wayfinding and promotes exciting visual connections between areas. By combining innovative solutions with time-tested project management methods, OLC delivers highly functional facilities packed with plenty of wow factor. As an added bonus to owners, we can tap into our in-house aquatic and interior design teams to ensure all club elements are designed to work in harmony.


With a bulging resume of more than 500 aquatic facilities, it should be no surprise that OLC’s in-house aquatic designers use innovative design solutions and top notch technical skills to surpass client expectations.  Whether the project is a  exercise, therapy or recreation pool, municipal splash pad, commercial water park, fountain or resort amenity, our aquatic designers work seamlessly with the architectural team to address all opportunities and challenges in each phase of design and construction. Our goal is to listen to your  needs and calm your concerns before thoughtfully programming and creatively planning the aquatic attraction to fully realize your ambitions.


Since 1993. we have made it our business to be up-to-date on local, state and international aquatic design standards and guidelines.  We have made it our business to stay abreast of industry trends, health and safety issues.   And because of this,  owners and managers of the nation’s largest health clubs, wellness centers, city and county recreation districts and privately-owned resorts across the nation have trusted OLC to deliver purpose-driven, user-friendly and operationally efficient aquatics.



Today, recreation centers are a staple in neighborhoods across the country, but go back 20 years and the not-for-profit concept was almost non-existent. So when OLC was hired to design our first public recreation project, we drew upon ideas and beliefs forged from our for-profit club experience, repurposed to better fit the public sector.  Fast forward to present day, and we still believe in the importance of an open design plan and maximizing every dollar invested.  We continue to think through the ideal user experience and provide a smooth, intuitive flow through the facility, all the while capitalizing on breathtaking outdoor views. 

In these last few decades, we’ve built upon our extensive experience and come to understand the importance that historical reference, site context and free-versus-paid access zones all have in a successful recreation facility.  These days, we continue to approach every project with bright, fresh eyes and an awareness that each community is different from the rest. We delight in the opportunity to bring our playful excitement, design expertise and lessons learned through 1.5 million built square feet of recreation facilities, to your project today. 

University Recreation

Campus life has changed over the years, and students these days have more options than ever when it comes to choosing their next higher education destination.  Campus master plans often include a student recreation center with integrated programs that focus on student wellness.  Student recreation centers are one building that has the power to have an immediate impact on campus life - changing the way students move through campus and even how they set their schedules. A successful design team can focus on the big picture of university master planning, to ensure that the recreation center will integrate flawlessly within the context of the campus. At the same time our professionals know that facility operations, maintenance and upkeep are a critical part to the detailed picture to ensure that a facility is not only built right, but maintainable and durable for many years.

OLC's architects translate the planning phase into a thriving facility program through a number of interactive and collaborative stakeholder meetings that include students, administration, athletics, facility management and even alumni. These meetings are essential in order to gather every group's input and allow the design solution to take shape. We purposefully engage all parties early and often, knowing from our past experience that crucial parts of the puzzle may lie with a single program, an entire committee or even a maintenance person.  We also respect that a student recreation center would not be possible without partnerships, donations and dedicated students.

Ultimately, a successful recreation or wellness center will enhance the fabric of the campus and support the school's mission. We are confident that OLC’s involvement will result in a seamless planning and design process that culminates with an exceptional recreation facility for all involved parties.


Somewhere along the way, we grew up and life got busy, complicated and demanding.  What was once a naturally peaceful existence now must be fashioned and carefully crafted in hopes of returning one to such youthful euphoria.  It is this very aspiration that lures us into the calmness offered from the spa, a space that we at OLC believe is not just a component or a facet of a facility, but an oasis, a complete destination and sanctuary for those seeking relief from the stresses of life. 

Upon entering the spa, one should immediately experience a sense of quiet, expansive harmony, peace and relaxation, despite the chaos occurring outside its doors.  It is for this reason our designers have extensively researched solutions for noise abatement and always consider placement of mechanical components necessary for the treatment rooms.  We want to deliver not simply a service or treatment, but instead facilitate an extraordinarily tranquil experience.

Our in-house aquatic team often steps in to assist with the integration of aquatic elements such as water therapy and whirlpools.  A strong grasp of operational practices also helps our designers maximize revenue opportunities out of limited square footage.  Combine all this with a scholarly understanding of interior design principles, such as the effect of color on emotional states, and Eastern holistic design principles like feng shui, and it is no surprise the success of OLC’s dynamic spa designs have garnered international acclaim.


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