F&S Partners, a Dallas-based firm that specializes in the design of educational, recreational, and religious projects, announced today that it is merging with SmithGroup, one of the nation’s top architecture and engineering firms.

Founded in 1962 as Fisher and Spillman Architects, the F&S Partners office will now carry the name “SmithGroup/F&S.” It will provide architecture, interior design, MEP, and planning services to clients throughout the Southwest.

No jobs will be eliminated at the 40-person F&S Partners. According to a prepared statement, all of its employees will remain on staff, and its five principals will continue to hold their management positions. The company’s president, Robert L. Shaw, Jr., AIA, will become the office director of SmithGroup/F&S. He also will become a SmithGroup vice president and member of its board of directors.

Expected to be finalized next Tuesday, the merger will boost F&S’s ability to take on institutional projects. “One of the major initiatives in Texas right now is the elevation of its emerging research universities to national status,” says Shaw, “and we wanted to find a way to help our clients meet this goal by designing the best facilities.” Recent educational projects by F&S include a $35 million student recreation center addition and renovation at the University of Texas, and $7.2 million renovation of a lab facility at Texas Tech University.

SmithGroup president and CEO Carl Roehling, FAIA, says the merger will help his company build strong relationships with Texas universities. “We’re confident they’re the right firm to accelerate SmithGroup’s growth in the higher education market,” he explains, noting that F&S has an “impressive portfolio of recreational facilities, which fits in well with SmithGroup’s student-life initiative.”

Founded in 1853, SmithGroup is the oldest continually operating architecture and engineering firm in the U.S. It posted gross revenue of $166.1 million in 2008, and ranks no. 18 in RECORD’s recently released “Top 250 Firms” list. With the addition of F&S Partners, the company now has 800 employees and operates 11 offices across the country.

Earlier this year, SmithGroup and F&S Partners teamed up to win several projects in the Southwest. These include: a $10 million community center in Avondale, Arizona; two major renovation projects at the Texas Tech University; and a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide ongoing architecture and engineering services for various projects in the North Texas Health Care System.

Collaboration between the two firms dates back to the 1970s. SmithGroup subsidiary JJR, which specializes in landscape architecture, civil engineering, and planning, worked with F&S Partners to develop a master plan for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In recent years, the two worked together to design a campus development plan for Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

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