News

World-Renowned Danish Design Firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Joins Perkins+Will

Partnership expands Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s capacity for international growth; complements Perkins+Will’s design philosophy and strengthens the firm’s cultural practice

One of Scandinavia’s most recognized design firms, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, has joined global architecture firm Perkins+Will in a strategic partnership that extends Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s international reach and reinforces Perkins+Will’s commitment to sustainability and design excellence.

Founded in 1986, Schmidt Hammer Lassen is known around the world for its iconic, highly sustainable cultural and civic architecture, including The Black Diamond, the extension to the Royal Library in Copenhagen; ARoS Museum of Art in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city; Halifax Central Library in Nova Scotia, Canada; the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, Greenland; and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The firm recently won a global competition to design the world’s largest library—the 1.2 million-square-foot Shanghai East Library—and it is currently working on the transformative Monroe Blocks mixed-use development in Detroit, Michigan, the firm’s first project in the United States.

By combining Perkins+Will’s 83-year legacy of design excellence with Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s illustrious Danish design pedigree, the united firms will make even greater contributions to the canon of cultural and civic architecture, according to Perkins+Will CEO Phil Harrison.

“Part of what makes this partnership so special is that Perkins+Will and Schmidt Hammer Lassen share a common set of values: design excellence, sustainability, innovation, and the highest level of client service,” Harrison says. “We also maintain the same design ethos, believing that exceptional architecture is always democratic and in the service of the greater good. We’re compatible at every level.”

Bjarne Hammer, founding partner of Schmidt Hammer Lassen, agrees:
“Our firms share a clear mission: through architecture and design, we make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of others. We both believe strongly in the transformative, healing power of design to address some of the most pressing social and environmental issues of our time. And, we both thrive in a design culture that encourages collaboration.”

Complementary Goals
In addition to a shared vision and purpose, the two firms have symbiotic market strategies. Perkins+Will aims to diversify its global talent, expand its cultural and civic practice, and reinforce the caliber of its design portfolio. At the same time, Schmidt Hammer Lassen aims to expand into new geographic markets, grow its client base, and apply groundbreaking design research to practice.

“We want to be known as a company that is both design-driven and client-focused, as a firm that produces extraordinary designs and delivers them with extraordinary efficiency. Merging with Perkins+Will enables us to maintain this critical part of our identity while having the support, technology, and reach of a much larger organization,” says Schmidt Hammer Lassen CEO Bente Damgaard. “It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

Perkins+Will’s global platform also provides a host of benefits to Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s international clients, Damgaard says, because they now have all of the resources, talent, and expertise—including research—they need within a single firm. This streamlines collaboration, facilitates communication, and ensures smooth project delivery.

Aligned In Design
The union of Perkins+Will and Schmidt Hammer Lassen is supported in large part by both firms’ legacies of, and commitments to, design excellence.

Over the last eight decades, Perkins+Will’s landmark projects of beautiful, thoughtful design—like the transformative Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois; the Shanghai Natural History Museum in China; and the Albion Library in Toronto, Canada—have characterized the essence of the firm. Similarly, Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s portfolio of award-winning architecture—projects that constitute works of public art in and of themselves—underscores the firm’s 32-year history of distinguished design. Examples of built work include Dokk1, the largest public library in Scandinavia; Malmö Live, a concert, congress, and hotel complex in Sweden; and Vendsyssel Theatre in Denmark, a music and theater hall that celebrates cultural exchange.

“Our firm is unequivocally rooted in Scandinavian architectural traditions, which are based on values like democracy, welfare, sustainability, light, openness, and social responsibility,” says Kristian Lars Ahlmark, senior partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “Our buildings not only reflect these values, but they also impart these values on all who encounter them, whether tenants, visitors, or passersby.”

Synergies in Sustainability
Additionally, both Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Perkins+Will are known leaders in sustainability. Through their high-performing, environmentally responsive designs, the firms contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and to the improvement of human and ecological health. The firms have designed hundreds of projects—collectively amounting to several hundred million square feet—that meet or surpass various international standards for green building. And their staff include many of the industry’s most sought-after experts in sustainable design.

“Sustainability is in our DNA at both Perkins+Will and Schmidt Hammer Lassen,” says Damgaard. “It’s just another example of the synergy between our firms—and of why this partnership makes sense.”

Cultural Diversity
The partnership is also a celebration of differences in culture, customs, language, and heritage—and of the design innovation that occurs when those differences interplay.

“Both of our firms believe in the global diversification of talent and creativity,” says Harrison. “We see the coming together of design cultures, aesthetics, and sensibilities as a positive force that leads to better, more thoughtful, more inclusive architecture. At Perkins+Will, we appreciate and celebrate Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s Danish design legacy, and look forward to the many ways it will positively influence our collective body of work.”

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About Perkins+Will
Perkins+Will is an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm established in 1935. Founded on the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance communities, we collaborate with clients all over the world to create healthy, sustainable places in which to live, learn, work, play, and heal. More than 2,000 professionals across over 20 Perkins+Will offices include some of the brightest minds in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Clients consistently turn to us for our leadership and expertise in areas like sustainability, resilience, health and wellness, and mobility. Additionally, our 10 Research Labs catalyze innovative design technologies and solutions that result in better, smarter, more competitive built environments. The recipient of hundreds of design awards each year, and a progressive leader in corporate social responsibility, Perkins+Will is consistently ranked among the world’s top design firms. For more information, visit www.perkinswill.com.

About Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects was founded in Aarhus, Denmark in 1986 and is led by founding partners Morten Schmidt, Bjarne Hammer, and John F. Lassen, along with senior partners Kim Holst Jensen and Kristian Lars Ahlmark, and partners Rong Lu and Chris Hardie. The firm is one of Scandinavia’s most recognized and award-winning architectural practices. Working out of studios located in Copenhagen, Aarhus, and Shanghai, the firm provides skilled architectural services all over the world, with a distinguished track record as designers of international high-profile architecture. Cultural and educational buildings, offices, commercial, retail, and residential, often in mixed-use developments and complex urban contexts, are cornerstones of the firm’s output. The practice has extensive global experience in the design of libraries and other public and cultural landmark buildings, and its innovative, sustainable, and democratic approach to architecture has attracted global attention, winning more than 100 national and international awards. For more information, visit www.shl.dk.