Architecture, Perkins+Will, Schmidt Hammer Lassen

Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects joins Perkins+Will

Global architecture firm Perkins+Will has acquired Danish design firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL), with an aim to encourage its work in civic and cultural architecture and commitment to sustainability.

Founded by Morten Schmidt, Bjarne Hammer and John F Lassen in 1986, the Scandinavian  design studio includes a portfolio of highly sustainable cultural and civic buildings around Europe, including  The Black Diamond, an extension to the Royal Library in Copenhagen and the ARoS Museum of Art in Aarhus, Denmark.

The Royal Library in Copenhagen by Schmidt Hammer Lassen 

SHL has also recently won a global competition to design the world’s largest library—the 1.2 million-square-foot Shanghai East Library—and is currently working on its firs project in the United States – the Monroe Blocks mixed-use development in Detroit, Michigan.

Joining Perkins+Will’s group of design firms will allow the firm to expand into new geographic markets, as well as growing its client base and engaging in more design research.

ARoS Museum of Art in Aarhus, Denmark by Schmidt Hammer Lassen

“We want to be known as a company that is both design-driven and client-focused, as a firm that produces extraordinary designs and delivers them with extraordinary efficiency. Merging with Perkins+Will enables us to maintain this critical part of our identity while having the support, technology, and reach of a much larger organization,” says Schmidt Hammer Lassen CEO Bente Damgaard. “It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

Perkins+Will’s global platform also provides a host of benefits to Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s international clients, Damgaard says, because they now have all of the resources, talent, and expertise—including research—they need within a single firm. This streamlines collaboration, facilitates communication, and ensures smooth project delivery.

Shanghai East Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen

“Our firms share a clear mission: through architecture and design, we make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of others. We both believe strongly in the transformative, healing power of design to address some of the most pressing social and environmental issues of our time. And, we both thrive in a design culture that encourages collaboration,”  said Bjarne Hammer, founding partner of Schmidt Hammer Lassen.

Perkins+Will’s CEO Phil Harrison said: ““Part of what makes this partnership so special is that Perkins+Will and Schmidt Hammer Lassen share a common set of values: design excellence, sustainability, innovation, and the highest level of client service.

Albion District Library in Toronto by Perkins+Will

“We also maintain the same design ethos, believing that exceptional architecture is always democratic and in the service of the greater good. We’re compatible at every level.”

SLH will in turn reinforce the caliber of Perkins+Will’s design portfolio.

Dokk1, the largest public library in Scandinavia by Perkins+Will (also main feature image)

A shared vision for architectural sustainability also connects the two firms, both contributing to  to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and to the improvement of human and ecological health. The firms have designed hundreds of projects—collectively amounting to several hundred million square feet—that meet or surpass various international standards for green building.

According to an interview by design magazine Dezeen, Perkins+Will’s move of purchasing all the shares in  Schmidt Hammer Lassen has also helped the design studio “secure the future of the company”.

“We have been working in New Zealand, Australia, China, North America, Greenland, Iceland, the UK, all over the place, but we’re only 150 people,” he said. “It has been very very demanding in many ways and we’re vulnerable,” Morten Schmidt told Dezeen. 

“The bigger and more complex these projects become, the more management is required,” he said. “If we lose some competitions then we are vulnerable, and we can’t secure our staff to be on board.”

Perkins+Will has also recently acquired the branding, retail strategy, and design consultancy Portland Design Associates, which is based in London but has a base and large presence in the Middle East.