When the going gets tough, the tough get ... together.

While firms are still hemorrhaging employees and even shutting their doors due to the difficult economy, one award-winning small firm in Chicago has reconstituted itself as a new entity designed for opportunity. David Brininstool and Brad Lynch, partners for 20 years in Brininstool + Lynch, have closed their firm and added Tom Kerwin, previously a managing partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Chicago office, to form Brininstool, Kerwin and Lynch (BKL).

The new firm has announced a “strategic alliance” with Chicago-based Magellan Development and aims to leverage Kerwin’s extensive international contacts to grow the practice far beyond its Chicago base. BKL is already working with Dutch- and Korean-based developers on new projects.

Brininstool + Lynch was well known for its residential projects—generally, large apartment designs by Brininstool and single-family residences by Lynch. BKL’s home will be in an acclaimed new Chicago structure that has just opened, although it isn’t one by the firm: Jeanne Gang’s Aqua, not coincidentally developed by new ally Magellan.

One day after the Jan. 26 announcement of the new firm’s existence, a new website—albeit highly reliant on the previous Brininstool + Lynch one—was already online at www.bklarch.com.

In other Chicago consolidation news (announced the same day). Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture has added Peter Kindel, formerly the founder and principal of Topografis, as director of urban design.