Another marriage of big-name architecture firms occurred earlier this week, with two New York–based practices joining forces: Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn (EEK) Architects has merged with Perkins Eastman.
Bradford Perkins and Stanton Eckstut have known each other for years, and their firms have participated in joint ventures several times, but they say the thought of merging never occurred to them until a mutual friend suggested it. Eckstut notes that EEK has been approached numerous times over the past decade by larger firms looking to join forces, but, until now, they didn’t make sense to him. “We’re now part of an organization that allows us to implement our ideas with shared values on a big, bold basis,” he says. “This is implementing our larger scale vision—creating not iconic forms, but iconic places.”
Perkins mentions the cultural fit between the firms and their principals: “A lot of us come from a joint planning and architecture background.” But opportunities to leverage their reputations exist. Most of Perkins Eastman’s large-scale urban design projects have been overseas, while EEK’s reputation for such projects is primarily domestic. Both firms have significant portfolios of educational projects. And Perkins notes that EEK maintains a strong historic preservation/adaptive reuse practice. “We’d like to make that more of our practice,” he says.
Perkins Eastman has about 500 employees working in eight U.S. and six international markets, including India and China. EEK’s 85 employees are spread across New York; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; and Shanghai. Initially, the combined offices will move into the Perkins Eastman offices in New York and Shanghai, while the D.C.-area offices will combine in EEK’s space.
In discussing the merger, Perkins and Eckstut share an easy banter while explaining how complementary the arrangement will be. Perkins has been traveling monthly to Asia for years—and that’s something that will continue under the combined firms. “I’d much rather go to Pittsburgh or San Antonio,” Eckstut says. Both firm names will remain, although the general practice will be known as Perkins Eastman. “The EEK brand is valued and respected,” Perkins says. “It will remain in some specialties,” he adds. Quips Eckstut: “We’ll push both until we confuse everyone too much.”