The California architecture firm WWCOT is merging with the Omaha, Neb.–based DLR Group, both firms announced today. WWCOT’s four domestic offices—in Los Angeles, Modesto, Palm Springs, and Riverside—will be known as DLR Group WWCOT, as will its one overseas office, in Shanghai.

The merger helps DLR Group, a firm of 500 people, extend its reach westward: DLR previously had 15 offices around the country, but only one was in California. “We do work with national clients, and … California is obviously a place many of our national clients are,” says Jon Pettit, a DLR managing principal. DLR is eager to expand its justice practice into the California market, Pettit says.

WWCOT boasts a long history in California and an extensive portfolio of K–12 and higher education work there, which will complement DLR’s education practice. “We are now the largest K–12 practice in the country,” says Adrian Cohen, formerly the managing partner of WWCOT. Cohen will direct DLR Group WWCOT from the Los Angeles office and assume the new title of regional leader.

Pettit says that discussions with WWCOT began about four months ago. “What we thought was exceptional was that they’re a very decisive firm. They act quickly,” he notes. WWCOT’s leadership, Cohen says, welcomes the chance to access out-of-state markets: “It’s a win-win, providing DLR a strong presence in California, and providing WWCOT almost unlimited opportunity. It opens up all kinds of doors for everyone.”

The Shanghai office in particular, Cohen adds, will be “a big area of effort” in coming months. According to Pettit, there are no plans to close any locations.