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May 07, 2014

California firm Ware Malcomb buys Connell Design Group here

Daily Journal of Commerce

Lynn Porter

Connell Design Group, a seven-person interior architecture firm in Mountlake Terrace, put itself up for sale in June of 2012 in hopes of becoming part of a company that designs buildings and does larger-scale interior projects.

It talked with several architecture firms on the West Coast and on April 1 was purchased by Ware Malcomb, an international design firm based in Irvine, California. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

All of the Connell designers will stay with the office, which will initially be called Connell Design Group, a Ware Malcomb company. Eventually the name will change to Ware Malcomb.

Alan Lambert, Connell Design Group owner, president and general manager, will be regional director of the office. Cindy Kang will be studio manager for interior architecture and design services. She had been Connell's vice president for planning and design.

The purchase gives Ware Malcomb about 230 employees in 15 offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Panama.

The firm was established in 1972, and offers planning, architecture, interior design, graphic design and civil engineering to commercial real estate and corporate clients. It specializes in office, industrial, science and technology, health care, retail, auto dealerships, public/educational facilities and renovation projects.

Ware Malcomb Chief Executive Officer Lawrence R. Armstrong said many of the firm's corporate clients are in the Seattle market, so it wanted to have an office here. Connell was attractive because it does similar work and is successful.

"They have done a great job running a very successful business, and we will incorporate many of their approaches," he said.

The purchase gives Ware Malcomb a larger presence in this area, allowing it to do more tenant improvements for corporate clients and new development for others, Armstrong said.

"From our perspective, we do see growth there," he said. "We tend to follow our clients, and our clients seem to view the Seattle market as a long-term growth market."

Connell Design Group was founded in 1990 with a focus on interior architecture and design for office, retail, medical, dental and industrial spaces. Its clients have included CBRE, Colliers International, Comcast of Washington, Pediatric Associates, Kidder Mathews and Steadfast Commercial Properties.

Lambert said the firm wanted to be part of a company that designs buildings and interiors, and offers the opportunity to work on larger projects.

"It was time for us to find a merger partner so we could expand our portfolio and expand into larger-scale projects," he said.

The Montlake Terrace office is at 22002 64th Ave. W. The firm plans to hire architects and designers in that office and will eventually offer all the services of Ware Malcomb.

Michael Strogoff of Strogoff Consulting represented Connell in the sale.

© 2014 Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce

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