Frequent architecture collaborators to combine firms

commonwealth architects office

Dayton’s staff will join Commonwealth Architects’ office at 101 Shockoe Slip. (Jonathan Spiers)

After working together on an increasing number of projects, a pair of locally based architecture firms have drafted a plan to join forces.

Shockoe Slip-based Commonwealth Architects is absorbing Henrico-based firm Architects Dayton Thompson & Associates in a deal that takes effect Nov. 1.

Commonwealth announced the merger Wednesday afternoon. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Commonwealth principal Lee Shadbolt said the combination came about as the two firms worked together on several recent projects, such as a New Horizon Bank branch in Powhatan County that Dayton Thompson designed. Shadbolt said Dayton Thompson reached out to Commonwealth for assistance with the interior of that building, which recently broke ground.

Shadbolt said the two firms have also collaborated on other projects, such as Spotsylvania Courthouse Village, a mixed-use development near Fredericksburg. The firms are also both working on the SunTrust Center in the WestMark Office Park, with Commonwealth designing office space and Dayton Thompson designing the center’s bank branch, Shadbolt said.

“It was like, ‘Okay, we’re doing all these things together,’ so at that point we said: ‘Hey, why don’t we move together?’” Shadbolt said.

Lee Shadbolt

Lee Shadbolt

Dayton Thompson’s nine employees, including principals Delmar Dayton and Fred Thompson, will join Commonwealth in its offices at 101 Shockoe Slip, bringing Commonwealth’s staff count to 34. Shadbolt said the space can accommodate the growth, having housed upwards of 40 employees at one point.

Attempts to reach Dayton and Thompson were unsuccessful Wednesday. Shadbolt said their firm would move out of its space at 3111 Northside Ave., a building he said it owns and leases out to other tenants.

Founded in 1984, Dayton Thompson has focused on architecture, interior design and master planning services for clients in financial services, retail, healthcare, commercial and municipal institutions. The firm also has a subsidiary, Club Source Design, specializing in golf clubhouse and recreational facility design that Shadbolt said would further expand Commonwealth’s suite of services.

“We realized it was a very complementary relationship. Normally if there are people right in our (area), specifically in our industries, we see them and we bump up against them, but we really haven’t with Dayton Thompson,” he said, “because we’re working for similar clients, just not doing the same things for them.”

Since starting in 1999, Commonwealth has carved out focus areas that include interior architecture, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse and infill design.

Shadbolt said Commonwealth brings in about $4 million in annual net revenue. He said Dayton Thompson has brought in about $1.5 million.

The merger is the latest move to arise in a busy local architecture scene. Earlier this year, Chesapeake-based RRMM Architects announced it is moving its Mechanicsville office to the downtown Cokesbury building, while Shockoe Bottom heavyweight Baskervill expanded to Florida.

Last year, Wendel acquired locally based Evolve Architecture. And across the street from Commonwealth, Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater held an open house this week for its new Shockoe Slip office.

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