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Boston architecture firm ADD Inc. set to be acquired by Canadian giant

Channel Center in South Boston, designed by ADD, Inc.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Channel Center in South Boston, designed by ADD, Inc.

Boston-based architecture firm ADD Inc. is set to be acquired by design and consulting giant Stantec , a Canadian company with 14,000 employees.

ADD was responsible for the design of several prominent Boston-area buildings, including One Channel Center, a new office building in the South Boston waterfront occupied by State Street Corp., and the Massachusetts College of Art’s “Tree House” residence building. The firm has also designed a number of tiny but efficient “micro apartments.”

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Stantec has an active Boston office and recently collaborated with Boston architect Jonathan Levi to design the Wellington Elementary School in Belmont. The company also worked on the redevelopment of Somerville’s Union Square and the expansion of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

If the agreement to combine the two firms closes in September as expected, the resulting company will have a hand in several important Boston-area developments. They include projects in Boston’s so-called “Innovation District” and buildings in the rapidly growing Assembly Square area of Somerville, where a new transit station is set to open this summer. The combined company also expects to compete for a diverse array of contracts.

“Together, we’re in a position to compete for anything,” said ADD president Fred Kramer. “Boston remains hotter than hot. ...We’re itching to get started.”

In a statement, Stantec said it pursued the deal to strengthen its building business in urban areas along the East Coast, where it expects rapid growth in coming years.

Kramer noted that each firm offers expertise the other lacks. In the college market, for example, ADD has built residences and student life facilities; Stantec specializes in science and technology spaces.

While Stantec gets talent and expertise in the deal, ADD will gain access to markets in other cities and the resilience to market swings that comes with the geographic and revenue diversity of a larger company. During the recent recession, ADD shrunk from 170 to 92 employees.

Kramer said ADD had considered numerous mergers over the past decade but held off until now. Leaders of the two companies worked on the deal for about six months, he said, agreeing that the ADD group would retain considerable autonomy, though the ADD name will be phased out.

ADD, which also is based in Miami, has about 210 employees.

Stantec, which employs about 6,400 US workers, has existing offices in both cities.

In Boston, the two firms’ offices will not be combined before the current leases expire in eight years, Stantec spokeswoman Erin Carlon said.

And, she said, because Stantec is interested in ADD’s expertise in such areas as commercial and mixed-use buildings, multifamily residential buildings, and offices, there will not be significant layoffs as a result of the acquisition.

“A few select roles may overlap,” Carlon said, but “by and large there will not be job losses.”

Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Find him on Twitter at @DanielAdams86.
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