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Pair of Detroit architectural firms merge

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Pair of Detroit architectural firms merge

They have worked together on projects

April 8, 2004

BY JOHN GALLAGHER

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

The Detroit-based architectural firm Kessler/Francis /Cardoza, responsible for many of the city's landmark modern buildings, has merged into another firm.

Ed Francis and Jim Cardoza, the two surviving partners of the late William Kessler, who founded the firm in 1954 and died in late 2002, have joined the Detroit-based firm Gunnlevine Architects.

They will become principals with Thomas Gunn, Harvey Levine and Francis Resendes at Gunnlevine. The Gunnlevine firm is best known for its work in the education and health-care field, helping design Hutzel Women's Hospital, the Kansas City Art Institute, Botsford General Hospital, Providence Hospital and numerous other projects.

Best known for its modernist works, the Kessler firm over the years designed Detroit Receiving Hospital, the original Detroit Science Center, the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing, the Kresge Foundation headquarters in Troy, the Delphi Automotive Systems world headquarters in Troy and the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Although Kessler himself was known for his modernist designs, Francis became an expert in the restoration of historic architecture. The firm was the architect of record for the restoration of the Fox Theatre and numerous other theater restorations, and it has worked on several projects at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The two firms worked together more than 30 years ago on Receiving Hospital and the Wayne State University Health Care Clinics Building.

"This advances architecture in Detroit and Michigan," said Gunn, president and chief executive of Gunnlevine. "Coupling the Kessler/Francis/Cardoza legacy with the expertise of Gunnlevine Architects will add to the firm's portfolio diversity and potential for greater future growth."

"Today our two respective firms look forward to a period of new creative growth," Cardoza added.

Such mergers are not unusual in the architectural world. While some firms like Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates and SmithGroup trace their history back more than a century, many firms hardly go more than a generation or so without a merger or name change as the principals come and go.

A highly competitive business environment that encourages ever greater efficiency is also driving many firms to link up with each other for survival.

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or [email protected]

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