As I scrolled through my work emails today in an effort to find some contact information, I came across an email from a few weeks ago titled, "Did Perkins + Wil Just Freelon Group?" I remember reading this email from a friend and the flurry of emails which came immediately after from individuals included on the message. Some individuals collectively responding with a resounding NOOOOOOOOO! Just a few days later this official press release was posted to Phil Freelon's website by Sarah Sheehey, Perkins + Wil's public relations manager.
Phil Freelon is one of the most notable African American architects in the country. He is the founder and president of Freelon Group and has an impressive "portfolio of design achievements on behalf of some of America's most respected cultural institutions including the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Emancipation Park in Houston, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and multiple projects for the Washington, D.C. Public Libraries."
What does all of this mean for the remaining minority architecture firms around the country who vigorously pursue culturally sensitive commissions? Is Perkins + Wil now a major competitor for those projects? Is P+W now a firm that will use its acquisition of Freelon Group to be a leader in the African American aesthetic which is developing before our eyes around the country?
I have no idea what the ramifications of such an acquisition will be on other minority practitioners in the long term, only time will tell. We should not view this as a bad thing, I am extremely happy that Phil Freelon was able to amass a practice so remarkable that a firm such as Perkins + Wil sought after a merger. That is an impressive feat. Hats off!
Both firms have impressive bodies of work in their portfolio, I'm anxiously anticipating their new, joint endeavors.