At the start of this month, two significant deals combining design firms were announced within days of each other. On March 4, Perkins+Will (P+W) and The Freelon Group—the Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, firm headed by Phil Freelon—said they would merge. The day before, Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design Group unveiled its acquisition of Wilson Associates, a 400-person interior design firm with headquarters in Dallas and offices around the world.
As the economy slowly emerges from the recent recession, there has been a noticeable uptick in mergers and acquisitions among firms in the A/E/C industry, according to DesignIntelligence, a bimonthly report from the Design Futures Council. “We are currently in a zone that is more active than the pre-recession period and with a big difference: the deals are often smarter,” explains James Cramer, chairman of the Design Futures Council and chairman and principal of the Greenway Group. “We know of approximately 35 potential business combinations that are currently at one stage or another of development. No doubt, there are others outside our peripheral vision.”