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Chicago design firm OWP/P merging with Cannon Design of New York

The deal would make it the nation’s 11th largest architectural firm

By Blair Kamin | Tribune critic

One of Chicago’s largest architectural and engineering firms, OWP/P, is merging with Cannon Design, an even larger design firm based in upstate New York, the firms will announce Thursday. Terms of the deal, a complex cash and stock transaction, were not disclosed.

The new firm, which largely will operate under the Cannon brand, will be one of the nation’s largest. Its combined 2007 revenues of $158.3 million would make it the nation’s 11th biggest architectural firm, according to a survey that the trade journal Architectural Record published last year.

John Syvertsen, OWP/P’s president, acknowledged that the recent construction downturn has forced his firm, like many in Chicago, to lay off architects. But he denied that the merger is recession-related and said it would not lead to a fresh round of layoffs in the Chicago office.

“We started our conversations when the stock market was at 13,000,” he said in a telephone interview. “For us, it means we will be part of a national and international network of offices. Basically, our platform will expand.”

Meanwhile, the deal gives Cannon, which has a small office in Chicago, a much larger presence in one of the nation’s top markets.

Headed by co-chairman and CEO Gary Miller, Cannon Design, with 800 architects and staff, has offices in several U.S. and Canadian cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. Like OWP/P, it has a health-care specialty.

OWP/P has offices in Chicago and Phoenix.

OWP/P, which specializes in elementary schools, colleges and universities, health-care and commercial work, ranked 52nd in the Architectural Record survey, with $52.9 million in revenue. Cannon, based in Grand Island, N.Y., near Buffalo, ranked 19th, with $95.4 million.

Cross posted from Chicago Tribune

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Breaking All the Rules With New York’s Public-Building Design


Brooklyn, N.Y.
May 13, 2009

Now that the age of irrational exuberance and outrageous excess is apparently over, can we please talk about real architecture again? It has been fun seeing just how far talent can stretch itself before achieving irrelevancy, but there are diminishing returns in watching more become less in an escalating game of real-estate toys for the superrich. It has been less fun to see how easily, and paradoxically, in a time of extreme affluence, the social contract that is an essential part of the art of architecture has been abrogated. Or at least driven under the radar by the kind of showy construction where creativity and cost are terminally confused. You do begin to wonder what happened to the art that could build with genuine grandeur and still serve and elevate ordinary lives. 

The Saratoga Avenue Community Center's exterior with its references to earlier styles.

The Saratoga Avenue Community Center's exterior with its references to earlier styles.

As the hype and the construction stop, there is much soul-searching talk by born-again architects about modesty, sustainability and social and environmental responsibility. But I find it hard to believe that those operating in the stratosphere of pricey self-indulgence in an undimmed celebrity culture really get it, or that they are having even a tiny epiphany. Architecture has always been the enabler of excess, for better or worse, and architects will succumb again to the same seductive pieties about cutting-edge design and a trickle-down theory that simply doesn’t work.  Full article

Cross posted from WSJ

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Residential shipping container architecture by Adam Kalkin

If you are familiar with container architecture you’re familiar with Adam Kalkin.  He has designed some of best examples of this genre to date.  Here are just two. 



New Jersey

For additional photos and information click through these links

Beachbungalow8 blog

Adam Kalkin Homepage

architecture, container architecture, modern architecture, shipping containers | 1 Comment

Mies won’t shed a tear

This is a Mies van der Rohe building…?  It is.  Located in Chicago at the corner of 35th and Federal Streets, not far from several of his famous steel and glass skyscrapers…

The Test Cell

The Test Cell

Take a last look.  The building nicknamed the Test Cell for its World War II usage as a test site for explosives is slated for demolition.  In it’s place, a new Metra Station.  Read more.

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