Posts tagged with "Mergers":

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Two of the biggest names in engineering, Weidlinger and Thornton Tomasetti, have joined forces

Two of the world’s most respected engineering firms, Thornton Tomasetti and Weidlinger Associates, have merged. Operating under the Thornton Tomasetti name, the deal means that the firm will now offer 10 practices offering a "broader range" of service to its clients as well as employing 1,200 staff and operating in 34 cities across the globe. The 10 practices will include:
  • Forensics
  • Renewal
  • Weidlinger Applied Science
  • Property Loss Consulting
  • Structural Engineering
  • Construction Engineering
  • Weidlinger Protective Design
  • Facade Engineering
  • Weidlinger Transportation
  • Sustainability
The Weidlinger name was kept in some services due to industry reputation. The firm will remain headquartered in New York City, with offices at the current 51 Madison Avenue and 40 Wall Street locations.
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Chicago’s Harrington College of Design to close its doors, merge with Columbia College

Chicago's Harrington College of Design on Wednesday abruptly announced it will merge with Columbia College. Jim McCoy, Harrington's vice president of operations, told AN the school will no longer accept new students, but won't shut the door on its existing student body. “Everyone that's enrolled in Harrington, we will teach them out,” said McCoy. Students in the downtown college's associate, graduate, and bachelor programs will continue to take Harrington classes through August 2018—even students who took a semester off can finish their degrees, McCoy said. “We do not want to lock them out.” After the summer term, at which point Harrington will vacate its leased space in Chicago's Loop, students will attend class in facilities owned by Columbia College. Students who complete their degrees within about a year can request a diploma from Harrington, McCoy said, but bachelors finishing their degrees after that time will earn credentials from their new alma mater, Columbia College. McCoy said declining enrollment had put pressure on Harrington's administration to make the move now or face the possibility of shutting students out in a few years while they were still part-way through their academic programs. “It just became obvious,” McCoy said, “to get back to where it was financially stable would have taken years, and we felt this was in the best interest of the students.” Over the last five years McCoy estimated Harrington's enrollment has declined by 30–40 percent. He credits increasing competition, including from online programs, for the drop. But also to blame may be the college's select program offerings. For 84 years Harrington has offered highly specialized programs in graphic design, interior design, and photography. “Those are great fields. They will continue to be great fields,” said McCoy. But they could not sustain business at Harrington. Crain's Chicago Business contextualized the financial situation of Harrington's owner, the suburban Schaumburg-based, for-profit company Career Education:
Like many private education companies, Career Education has struggled with declining enrollment over the past few years and has been losing money. The company's 2014 revenue fell to $736.9 million from $834.1 million in the year prior, and its loss widened to $178.2 million from $164.3 million in 2013.
Nationally enrollment has declined at for-profit universities, as well. “We're saddened,” said McCoy. “We are. We are happy to have been able to partner with Columbia College, and the underlying thing is we're not closing the door on our students.”
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More Mergers> NAC Architecture and Osborn joining forces

It's no AECOM and URS, but NAC Architecture, which has offices in Spokane, WA, Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles has merged with Southern California firm Osborn, and are moving their LA operations into new offices in the city's Chinatown neighborhood. NAC's 13,000 square foot LA office, to be located on the third floor of a historic building at 837 North Spring Street, will consist of 40 people, including all of Osborn and NAC's current LA staffs. Unlike huge firms swallowing little ones, this deal is about a "partnership with a simpatico firm" and "leveraging common culture, design ethic, and purpose," explained Osborn principal Michael Pinto. The merger widens both offices specialties to include architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, environmental graphics, interior design, master planning, sustainability, engineering, historic restoration, and project delivery.
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AECOM’s Merger Mania: Los Angeles–based firm doubles in size

As the economy continues to hum along, it's time once again for merger mania. By far the most significant example is Los Angeles–based construction giant, AECOM, which in the span of just a couple of months has more than doubled its size. In past years the company has bought firms like DMJM, EDAW, Ellerbe Becket, and Tishman, but it's been nothing like this year's spree. In July, AECOM announced it would buy construction and engineering company URS Corporation for around $6 billion, bringing its total workforce to around 95,000, up from 45,000. The merger is expected to go through in late October. Weeks later it said it would purchase Hunt Construction Group to join its construction services business. More than 70 years old, Hunt adds more than 700 employees to the company. With these acquisitions, AECOM—which among other things is overseeing the planning for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2018 World Cup in Moscow—will have the highest revenue of any publicly traded company in the city of Los Angeles. “To say the least, this is a significant acquisition for AECOM, which is acquiring a company that is about 40 percent larger based on our 2014 revenue projections,” Adam Thalhimer, analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, told Bloomberg. As with any merger, most of the companies' departments are strategizing how to combine and streamline resources. It's unclear how this will impact the company's architecture division, which pales in size to most divisions at just around 700 employees worldwide, confirmed company spokesperson Erik Miller. At a company that specializes in everything from engineering  to oil and gas exploration, that's a drop in the bucket. "AECOM and URS are currently going through an integration process with the goal of creating the most efficient structure to meet our clients’ needs. The architects within both companies are engaged in this process, though it’s too early to share a definitive solution," confirmed Bill Hanway, Executive Vice President, Global Architecture, at AECOM.
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Back in the game: HOK to acquire 360 Architecture, reenter sports architecture field

In a power play for the world of arena architecture, HOK has announced it will acquire Kansas City's 360 Architecture. Their union marks HOK's return to the world of sports and entertainment facility design, possibly to compete with Populous, another Kansas City-based firm that spun off from HOK Sports Venue Event in 2008. HOK started HOK Sports in 1983, but that firm (now called Populous) no longer has any affiliation with St. Louis-based HOK.  The global design firm's merger with 360 creates the largest architectural firm in Missouri. “Joining HOK enables us to take advantage of an exceptionally strong global platform and to expand our sports facility design practice while offering our clients additional expertise in other markets,” 360 Principal Brad Schrock said in a statement. “This also brings HOK, a global design leader in many building types, into the heart of Kansas City.” 360’s current projects include the Rogers Place arena for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and a new stadium for the Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes. Major competitors for the new HOK sports design giant will likely remain Dallas-based HKS and Seattle’s NBBJ. The two had been short-listed to design a major new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, but developer Ilitch Properties selected none other than 360 Architecture as lead designer and architect of record on that project. Meanwhile HKS is tackling a new Vikings arena in Minneapolis, while NBBJ fields Lexington, KY’s storied Rupp Arena.
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Perkins + Will folds in Freelon Group Architects, expands North Carolina practice

  Design giant Perkins + Will has swallowed up Freelon Group Architects, one of the country’s most prominent African American–led firms. The firms announced Tuesday that North Carolina–based Phil Freelon will help lead Perkins + Will’s design efforts in the region and globally. The local head of the combined practice will have nearly 80 professionals, creating one of the largest architecture and design practices in North Carolina. Freelon started his firm in 1990, growing it from a single-person practice to 45 employees. P+W will combine 18 staff members at an office in Morrisville, NC with Freelon’s office in Durham, as well as a 15-person staff in Charlotte. Freelon Group is best known for its work on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, which they designed with David Adjaye, Davis Brody Bond Aedas, and SmithGroup. The museum is targeting a 2015 opening. Freelon’s firm also worked on the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, and the Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights. “There’s a sense that we’re contributing to society as a whole, and making people’s lives better through our buildings in my firm, and Perkins + Will—there’s a lot of public sector clients there,” Freelon told the Durham Herald-Sun’s Laura Oleniacz. “We feel good about creating design excellence and beauty for everyday people.”
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Artek Joins the Vitra Family

On September 6, 2013, Vitra announced it acquired Artek. The Finnish furniture company was established in 1935 by architect Alvar Aalto, his wife Aino,  Maire Gullichsen, and historian Nils-Gustav Hahl to produce furniture that promoted modern living. Over the company’s last 80 years, it has expanded its business to include rights to Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture collection and collaborations with renowned designers and artists such as Shigeru Ban, Eero Aarnio, and Enzo Mari. Artek will continue operations as a separate entity but it is anticipated the purchase will expand the furniture company’s reach further beyond Finland, where contract and residential domestic sales account for 60 percent of its business. “The international dimension, which was a clear goal already in Artek’s founding manifesto of 1935, needed to be revitalized,” said Artek’s CEO Mirkku Kullberg in a statement. “That arena is where we want to be and alliances or ownership arrangements are one way of building the future.”   As synergies between the two companies are explored, Vitra will support Artek’s ongoing production of Aalto’s iconic lighting and furniture designs. “The Finnish design company is more than a collection of furniture; like Vitra it is a commercial-cultural project which plays an avant-garde role in its sector,” said Rolf Fehlbaum, a member of Vitra’s Board of Directors, in a statement. “For Vitra it is important that Artek can continue and further develop this role.” Vitra endeavors like the Vitra Design Museum, workshops, publications, and special collections and archives could be influential outlets for collaboration between the companies. For the last 20 years, Artek has been owned by Proventus, a privately held European capital development firm. Currently owned by Robert Weil, the company was established in Stockholm in 1969. Over the last 40 years, the investment firm has concentrated on the business of cultural institutions such as the Jewish Theatre in Stockholm, the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company, and Culture without Borders.    
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Ten Years in the Making, WSP Consolidates

Mergers and consolidations continue in the A/E/C industry. The four legacy firms that make up the US division of engineering firm WSP—WSP Flack + Kurtz, WSP Cantor Seinuk, WSP Environmental & Energy, and WSP SELLS—are consolidating under the WSP name. David Cooper, president of the WSP U.S. region, will continue to lead the consolidated firm. Globally, WSP has more than 15,000 employees with more than 300 offices in 35 countries, and ranks as the 17th largest engineering firm in the world. "What will change for us is the level of service we can offer," Cooper said. "We have a very strong culture across the legacy firms. The consolidation lets us face the market like a small regional but with added depth and breath of resources and expertise." In the U.S., WSP has a staff of more than 1000 in 35 offices across the country.
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Moving Time on the West Coast

(chirastar/Flickr) It’s that time again. With the economy still gasping, it’s time for struggling firms to get bought by behemoths and for other firms to split up. Among the rumors we’ve been hearing, LA firm Kanner Architects is rumored to be close to being swallowed by New York firm Ronnette Riley. Dan Meis, who only just recently left Populous to go off on his own, may soon get bought out, although we’re not sure by whom. And after Phoenix-based Will Bruder’s partners recently bought him out his firm Will Bruder + Partners is now split into two firms called WORKSBUREAU and Will Bruder Architects. Why can’t we just stay together anymore? (Image: chirastar/Flickr)
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FXFOWLE and CO Architects form Bi-Coastal Coalition

They seem hesitant to call it a merger, but architecture biggies FXFOWLE and CO Architects announced today that they are joining forces in a "joint venture." The New York and Los Angeles firms made the move, they said in a release, "In order to expand each firm’s geographic and expertise reach." The companies will maintain their individual identities, with the exception of joint projects, under which they'll be called CO/FXFOWLE. CO Architects, it should be noted, is known for its institutional and healthcare work, while FXFOWLE's portfolio, marked by its focus on sustainability, is a little more wide-ranging, from architecture to interior design to planning. The move actually took place in December, and the firms are emphatic that both will remain on equal footing. The deal, said the announcement, "represents a genuine collaboration between the two firms in all project services, rather than the customary design architect/associate architect relationship."
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HMC Merges Again, Expands into Phoenix

Southern California-based HMC has announced its merger with Phoenix firm Substance Design Consortium. The move not only strengthens HMC's presence in the southwest (the firm already has an office in Tempe), but it's a homecoming for its CEO Randy Peterson, who started his career in Phoenix. The new Phoenix firm will be known as HMC+Substance Design. HMC has been busy lately gobbling up smaller firms. Earlier this year they merged with San Francisco firm Beverly Prior Architects, forming HMC+Beverly Prior Architects. At least HMC preserves some semblance of the merged firm's previous identity with the resulting shared firm names, unlike AECOM which has erased the names of legendary firms like Ellerbe Becket, DMJM, and EDAW.
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Eavesdrop CA 03

DRAMA At SFMOMA In mid-March, Curbed SF revealed, via an unnamed source, six of the eight architects that it claimed had been shortlisted for SFMOMA’s planned expansion, which would house the late Donald Fisher’s art collection. The list included international big-hitters like David Adjaye, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, OMA, Snøhetta, and Renzo Piano. And so began rumor-mill heaven. Since that post, the veracity of which has been questioned (although first taken at face value by the likes of the LA TimesChristopher Hawthorne), we’ve heard from various sources that Peter Zumthor and TEN Arquitectos are being considered, that Gensler is also on the shortlist (not a coincidence perhaps, since Art Gensler is the vice chairman of the SFMOMA board), and that Norman Foster, who was basically booed out of town after winning a stimulus-aided renovation of the city’s 50 UN Plaza building, turned down the competition altogether. A call to Diller Scofidio + Renfro revealed that the firm had heard nothing from the museum. And one architect told us the list was no list at all, hinting that it came straight from the lips of CCA director (and loyal AN source) David Meckel. Meanwhile the museum said, not surprisingly, that it can “neither confirm nor deny” the leaks. But oh what fun it is to pontificate. SCARLET LETTER IS BLUE New social networking/architecture site Architizer hosted its LA launch party at the new A+D Museum space on March 18. The usual suspects all showed up in their best duds, but far and away the best-dressed was KCRW radio host Frances Anderton’s daughter Summer. Looking stunning in an eclectic and colorful boho-chic ensemble, Summer, 5, wore sparkling “Twinkle Toes” shoes, embedded not with the usual lame single blinking red LED light, but a whole kaleidoscope of dazzling bright white wonders. Oh, and Architizer founders Marc Kushner and Benjamin Prosky weren’t too shabby either, working the monochrome dark suit, Mad Men thin-tie look that added a touch of class to the event where the site’s omnipresent “A” logo was emblazoned on everything from t-shirts and lapels to a stack of chairs arranged in a rickety A formation. FIRMING UP It seems every month we hear of another struggling firm being swallowed up by a biggie. First Ellerbe Becket was taken over by AECOM. Then WWCOT merged into DLR. Now we hear from our rumor-mongering friends that Bay Area firm Fisher Friedman is on the block, and its primary suitor is NBBJ, who already took over Cambridge firm Chan Krieger Sieniewicz this month. Send hostile bids and golden handshakes to Eavesdrop@archpaper.com