Home AEC Seattle’s Callison Combines Forces with RTKL

Seattle’s Callison Combines Forces with RTKL

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Lance Josal

By Neil Gonzales

Two architecture powerhouses have joined forces, seeking to broaden their resources and services as well as geographic reach.

Seattle’s Callison and RTKL in Baltimore have combined into one firm under their Netherlands-based parent company Arcadis.

We want to strengthen our position in Seattle, and Callison is a perfect way to do it

The unified firm now named CallisonRTKL is headquartered in Baltimore but looks to retain a strong, growing presence in Puget Sound.

“We think (Seattle) is a great opportunity for growth. It’s a vibrant market,” CallisonRTKL CEO Lance Josal said. “We want to strengthen our position in Seattle, and Callison is a perfect way to do it.”

Layoffs are not expected as a result of what Josal termed an alignment between Callison and RTKL. “The alignment actually does not warrant any reduction,” he said.

Rather, the Seattle office – which currently has about 350 employees – is looking to hire, he said. “The Seattle office will just get stronger and better in the future.”

It was not totally unexpected that the two firms would combine eventually. Global design giant Arcadis bought Callison last year and RTKL in 2007.

Lotte Center Hanoi
Lotte Center Hanoi

Founded in Seattle in 1975, Callison is known for its retail design but also does hospitality, corporate and other projects worldwide. Among its most well-known works are retailer Nordstrom’s stores across the country, the Lotte Center Hanoi skyscraper in Vietnam and the jewelry boutique Dhamani 1969 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

RTKL specializes in urban design and master planning but is also recognized for its work on shopping centers, hospitals and other developments. Its notable projects include the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Wash., D.C.; Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore; and Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology in China.

“Arcadis brought these two companies together into the same architecture/design practice,” Josal said. “Now the process is making sure we have the right integration, structure, people and strategy in place.”

Bringing together the particular skills from Callison and RTKL “broadens the depth of our practice and clients,” he added. “It broadens our experience level and extends our reach in the U.S. and around the world. It broadens the sense of what we can do.”

Together, the two firms generated more than $400 million in architecture and engineering revenues in 2014. Their parent company now has more than $3.4 billion in revenues with 28,000 employees around the world.

Kelly Mann, executive director of the Urban Land Institute Northwest in Seattle, said the combined firm is a “great opportunity” for Callison to tap into some “excellent global expertise” from RTKL and Arcadis.

“Arcadis has a tremendous network in engineering and a wide variety of other disciplines that are complementary to the design work that Callison has been doing,” Mann said.

The combined firm is also a way for Callison to recommit in Seattle, she said. “It’s a great opportunity for Callison to renew its presence and community outreach in Seattle with greater horsepower.”