Another day, another corporate architecture takeover. But this time it’s not the usual suspect, AECOM, which has recently swallowed Davis Langdon, Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW. It’s Canada's largest architecture firm, Stantec (whose stock ticker on the NYSE, for the record, is STN), which already has a total of 10,000 employees in North America and designs behemoth projects ranging from airports to wastewater treatment plants. The firm today announced it was eating up storied SF firm Anshen + Allen. Anshen, famous for building the original Eichler Homes in California, the amazing Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, and a big chunk of the University of California campuses, still has a firm stronghold in healthcare, education, and research. Recent projects were at Cornell University, UCSF Medical Center, UC Santa Cruz, Stanford, and Kaiser Permanente. Some have decried the move as part of architecture’s inexorable march toward just a few “too big to fail” firms. But one of AN’s Deep Throat sees it as a smart move for Anshen in this economy: “Mid-size firms, even larger mid-size firms, are going to have a rough go of it during the next few years,” our source said. “You need a larger platform to keep getting healthcare (and presumably other institutional) work."
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We learn via email today that California firm WWCOT has been taken over by midwest mega-firm DLR Group. WWCOT's offices in LA, Modesto, Palm Springs, Riverside, and Shanghai will be known as DLR Group WWCOT. The merger, says 500-person DLR, will give the firm a needed presence in California and Asia, and improve its education, healthcare, and senior community design. Like most businesses, architecture's biggest firms are interested in the takeover, which gives them more geographic reach, more talent, and more clients. This move follows behemoth firm AECOM's purchase last October of Ellerbe Becket, and in 2007 RMJM's purchase of Hillier, and Arcadis' purchase of RTKL. According to a 2009 survey by business management consultant ZweigWhite, Seventy-one percent of architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms plan to conduct a merger or acquisition in the next five years. Sounds high, but maybe there will be one giant firm running all of architecture the next time we check?
On Saturday the LAPD cut the ribbon on its new police headquarters in downtown LA. The $437 million dollar facility, designed by AECOM, will house officers and staff within a 10-floor building that includes a rooftop helipad, glass-walled passageways, a large plaza, and exterior concrete walls with energy efficient high-performance glazing. Visitors will be able to eat at the 200-seat restaurant, LA Reflections, before viewing the outdoor memorial created to honor officers killed in the line of duty. AECOM partnered with a massive team that also included landscape architect Melendrez, Gensler, John Friedman Alice Kimm, and many many more. Read our review of the building in the next California issue, where we also give props to interesting new police buildings in LA by A.C. Martin, Perkins + Will and others.