One name that will be absent from RECORD’s 2008 list of the top 150 design firms is New Jersey-based CUH2A. The 400-member firm, which specializes in science and technology (S&T) projects such as hospitals and research facilities, is merging into HDR Architecture, in Omaha, Nebraska, to form what both companies say will be the world’s most comprehensive S & T design program.

HDR has 1,300 employees and is the tenth highest grossing architecture and engineering firm in the world, with reported revenues of $260 million in 2007. The merger spawned from the company’s desire to expand its portfolio without slowing the growth of its signature healthcare design program—the top one of its kind, according to Modern Healthcare magazine. To accomplish this, it sought out a company to team up with, and CUH2A emerged as the winning candidate, says HDR’s Senior Vice President Roger Stewart. “We knew them as tough competition and as the leader in the S & T market,” he says. “We had always admired them.”

Due to be completed on June 25, the deal calls for CUH2A to fold itself into HDR operations. CUH2A president Scott Butler will head up the new S&T unit, with executives from both companies serving on the management team.

The firms are aware of the obstacles they might face during integration, Butler says, particularly in regards to fusing two company cultures. Those concerns are offset by the potential benefits in terms of pooled talent and resources, as well as new geographical markets and additional clientele. “For both sides, it is a chance to fast-forward the development of our business strategies,” Butler explains. “Internally, it would have taken us each 10 years. This way, it happens overnight.”

RECORD just released its list of the top 150 firms, based on revenue reported in 2007. HDR, with $194.8 million in architectural revenue, ranked no. 10 on the list; CUH2A, with $50.1 million in architectural revenue, was no. 57.

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