In January, the small, design-oriented firm Brininstool + Lynch, best known for the Racine Art Museum, announced it was going after larger-scale, international projects with a new partner and a new partnership with a developer. The firm, now called Brininstool, Kerwin & Lynch (BK&L), has brought on SOM veteran Thomas Kerwin, who has experience with a number of major international projects, including the Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China and the Rockwell Center in the Philippines. The firm has received investment from Magellan Properties, the developer of the Studio Gang–designed Aqua tower, and will be collaborating with Magellan as they pursue new work at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, since January Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) has added two new senior staffers, and this week announced they would create a new firm, PositiveEnergy Practice, with Roger E. Frechette, a mechanical engineer also formerly of SOM, as president. PositiveEnergy grew out of the research AS+GG did to develop a “decarbonization” plan for Chicago’s Loop, part of the firm’s broader interest in sustainable designs. “We started off trying to figure out what the 2030 Challenge means,” Smith told AN, referring to the emissions reduction goals being pursued by many in the building industry. “We saw how difficult it was going to be to meet those goals.” Smith thinks developing emissions reduction strategies will be an important new business opportunity.
In addition to Frechette, AS+GG has also added Peter J. Kindel, an architect, landscape architect, and planner who will lead the firm’s urban design team, and Dr. Christopher Drew, a zoologist and energy expert, who will lead the sustainability team. Dr. Drew was previously the department manager for Masdar City, the zero-carbon development under construction outside Abu Dhabi.
According to Lynch, BK&L is hiring one or two new people, but plans to remain lean. “We’re starting out small, and we’d like to be, at most, a medium-sized firm,” Lynch told AN. “It’s an opportunistic move. I think it shows that we’re taking a step forward.” BK&L recently moved into a new office space in Aqua.