It takes two to tango. At least, that’s the case for Seattle-based Mithun and Culver City–based Hodgetts + Fung (HplusF), two west coast architecture firms that have announced a new, mutually-beneficial merger aimed at boosting one another’s clout in key project sectors.
Mithun, a national architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and interior design practice with satellite offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles will bring a bevy of large-scale housing, institutional, commercial, and urban mixed-use projects to the merger. Mithun, originally founded in 1949, has been awarded six AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten awards and the 2017 AIA Pacific Northwest Region Firm award, among other accolades. The firm has its hand in many projects, including a pair of student housing projects at the University of California, Los Angeles, totaling 3,200 beds and a new mixed-use complex at University of California, Irvine, among others.
Hodgetts + Fung, a small design firm helmed by architects Craig Hodgetts and Hsinming Fung, is well-known for its signature and artful cultural commissions, including a recently-completed renovation and expansion to the historic Frost Auditorium in Culver City, the Menlo-Atherton Center for Performing Arts in Silicon Valley, the Nashville West Riverfront Park Amphitheater, Towell Library at UCLA, and the Chapel of the North American Martyrs on the Jesuit High School Campus campus in Carmichael, California. Over the years, HplusF has been awarded over 40 design awards, including the AIA California Council Firm Award in 2008.
Explaining the reasoning behind the merger, Mithun president Dave Goldberg said, “Finding such strong design talent and fit with Craig and Ming is remarkable, and we are very excited about the positive impact we will be able to make together in Southern California and beyond.”
But don’t think this is a path toward early retirement for Hodgetts and Fung, who have been practicing together for over 35 years. Hodgetts explained that the merger is, in fact, the opposite of that, saying, “Some well-established firms look for a merger as an exit strategy, but this is a re-entry strategy for me, Ming, and our firm to expand to a much larger stage which, quite frankly, is not readily available to a smaller practice.” Fung added to the sentiment, saying, “We have been approached to join other firms before, but from the very first conversation, it was clear we had a lot in common with Mithun in design approach and studio culture.”
With the merger, the firms will share a name in Los Angeles—Mithun | Hodgetts + Fung—for now, but that could change in a few years as the new entity becomes more established.
The union will give HplusF the “right muscle” to go after more employee-heavy housing-focused projects, Hodgetts explained, an interest the firm has always wanted to explore but has so far been unable to fully undertake until now. With local and state governments, especially in California, stepping up their efforts to rein in housing costs through new construction, housing of all types is set undergo drastic expansion on the West Coast in coming years. In exchange, Mithun will gain access to diverse culturally-driven clients, a realm the growing, design-focused firm has been hungry to enter itself.