Merger Mania

In tough economic times many architecture firms are being swallowed in a merger and acquisition frenzy, sometimes with unexpected results
By C.J. Hughes, Architectural Record
March 2011

For as long as firms have felt the need to branch into new markets, mergers have been a viable option. But those corporate marriages seemed to have hit a fever pitch in the last few years, giving the architecture industry the feel of an Elvis wedding chapel, with practices large and small, local and international, specialized and generic, all rushing to the altar.

Whether the trend is real is debatable. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) does not track merger activity. Yet in an AIA survey of 700 firms conducted last spring, 57 percent expected merger activity to pick up this year, versus 35 percent who said it would stay the same. And even if 86 percent in the same survey did not see themselves merging, interviews show that the possibility is increasingly being discussed among designers, who are looking to expand, diversify, fortify, or cash out. More …


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