Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Courtesy SmithGroupJJR Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Today, architecture, engineering, and planning firm SmithGroupJJR announced the acquisition of Boston-based healthcare design firm TRO. The 100-person TRO office will become SmithGroupJJR’s first New England location, joining the Washington, D.C. practice as the firm’s only two East Coast offices. SmithGroupJJR's remaining offices are in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Deigo, Ann Arbor, Mich., Phoenix, Madison, Wis., and Shanghai.

Russ Sykes, managing partner at SmithGroupJJR, says that the two practices began conversations a year and a half ago to “get to know each other and make sure it’s what both teams wanted." Talks initialized after a former SmithGroupJJR employee who had joined TRO noticed cultural similarities between the firms.

It became clear to both firms that their staff-first cultures also complemented their individual long-term goals: “As large as we are, we are not well known in the Northeast and that’s a huge market for what we do,” Sykes says of SmithGroupJJR’s goals for geographic expansion.

“We had been out in the marketplace looking for a partner,” says TRO CEO Mark Jussaume, who will become the SmithGroupJJR Boston office director when the merger is complete. “We were starting to lose access to some of the larger clients, so we started to think about what our strategies might be to help change that situation.”

For TRO, the merger is also a matter of scalability and expanding into new markets. “[We hope to] expand our healthcare architectural engineering skills into science and technology, and then education,” Jussaume says.

This is not the first time TRO has embarked on a merger—in 2001, the firm joined with Memphis-based JMGR, a relationship that was severed in 2011. “We weren’t compatible,” Jussaume says. “So over time, we had to actually unmerge.”

SmithGroupJJR and TRO are already collaborating on multiple projects, including the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. TRO will retain its name through the second quarter of 2018 and then it will fully transition to the SmithGroupJJR name.