Architectural groups to join forces in 2010

Two of the city's biggest architectural firms will become one after the start of the year.

Leaders of McCluggage Van Sickle & Perry and Gossen Livingston Associates said the merged firm, GLMV Architecture, will launch Jan. 4.

"We're looking forward to facing a new year with a bigger, stronger firm," said Jeff Van Sickle, MVP's CEO.

The new firm will have 130 employees. MVP employs 50 people and Gossen Livingston 80.

Van Sickle and Bill Livingston, CEO of Gossen Livingston, said the merger will create a firm that will rank among the nation's 125 largest architecture firms by revenue.

Neither Van Sickle nor Livingston would disclose revenues for their firms individually or post-merger.

For GLMV to be included in the ranking, it must have at least $24 million in revenue. That's the amount the nation's 125th-largest architecture firm made according to trade magazine Architectural Record's 2009 list of the country's top 250 firms.

Livingston will be chairman, Van Sickle will be CEO and Mark McCluggage will be president of the merged firm.

The firms will continue to operate out of their existing offices — MVP is at 125 S. Washington and Gossen is at 420 S. Emporia — until they can find a single location to accommodate more employees.

"We're looking at some opportunities," Livingston said of the search for a new office. He and Van Sickle said they'd like to stay downtown.

The merged firm also will have offices in Kansas City and Houston, which Gossen Livingston established.

Van Sickle said he and Livingston have known each other for more than 25 years.

But it wasn't until three years ago that they began a casual conversation about merging firms.

"At some point we kind of looked at each other and said, 'Are we going to do this or not?' " Van Sickle said.

Both firms work on projects for federal, state and local governments, health care providers and the Defense Department that Van Sickle said are often technically challenging.

"Along with that it takes some pretty complex teams" to oversee the design of those projects, Livingston said.

Livingston said the firms have similar cultures, too. They strive to understand their clients' business and design projects around that, he said.

They have also worked together on several local projects, including the Wichita fire training center and Intrust Bank Arena. They were among several local firms making up the arena design consortium.

Both men said their firms are also working together on several active federal government projects.

The most significant effect of the merger will be their ability to compete for larger projects.

"There have been times over the years that we have been perceived to be too small," Livingston said.

The merger, he said, creates "opportunities that we haven't been able to capitalize on before."

Such situations could prove fruitful for the companies that provide services to MVP and Gossen.

Rod Young oversees one of those companies, Professional Engineering Consultants.

Young, the CEO, said his firm has worked with both firms over the years and he hopes to continue that relationship after the merger.

"They should be able to go after nicer projects, bigger projects that could benefit us," Young said. "I think it's (the merger) a big deal. They complement each other very well."

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