On Dec. 12, two Boston-area design firms, Sasaki Associates and Hacin + Associates (H+A), announced a strategic partnership. Not a merger, the arrangement, in which H+A founder and president David Hacin takes on a principal role at Sasaki, is more of a May-December romance: Sasaki, currently 230 staff strong, launched in 1953; the more boutiquey H+A, founded in 1993, employs 14 architects and interior designers. The practices first collaborated on the development of housing prototypes and a new hotel for the manmade Lulu Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. As the project wrapped, the firms began discussions to formalize the partnership.

“We are already working on projects and pursing projects together, as well as working independently,” says David Hacin. “Sasaki is one of the world’s most collaborative and interdisciplinary firms. One of the reasons we are drawn together is because this is also the core of who we are. This partnership is one more level of collaboration in two already collaborative organizations. It is not fundamentally about saving money or an economy of scale, but about achieving greater design results.”

In addition to the similar work practices, Hacin’s ties to the commercial marketplace opens up opportunities for Sasaki. “David has a very strong portfolio in the developer-driven area. It is a place where we have long history, but our architecture has been focused on college campuses as of late. He bring us expertise in commercial development,” says Sasaki principal Elizabeth Meek, who heads the interiors practice and has been working closely with H+A.

Both firms will keep their individual offices, Sasaki’s in Watertown, Mass., and H+A's in downtown Boston. A current collaboration between the firms, mixed-use housing on Massachusetts’ North Shore, is in the early stages.