Since it was founded in 1979, Cho Benn Holback + Associates of Baltimore has been an independent architectural practice, often working to transform old buildings to new uses. Now it’s transforming itself.
On May 1, the Baltimore office was acquired by Quinn Evans Architects, a design firm with offices in Washington, D. C. and the Midwest. CBH+A will operate as Cho Benn Holback, a Quinn Evans Company, and will remain in its longtime office in the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building at 100 North Charles Street. Its 30 employees will join Quinn Evans’ four other offices to create a combined staff of 140.
It’s a big move for the Baltimore firm, which has left its mark with projects such as Brown’s Arcade, Charles Plaza, Tindeco Wharf, Canton Cove, the Baltimore School for the Arts, Mill Centre, Clipper Mill, the Creative Alliance, Camden Station, the Eubie Blake National Jazz Museum and Cultural Center, the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, the Humanim Headquarters at the American Brewery, Everyman Theatre, Chesapeake Shakespeare Theater and the recent renovation of Baltimore Center Stage.
The founding principals of Cho Benn Holback say the acquisition is a good fit and will provide more opportunities for the combined staff. Like Cho Benn Holback, they say, Quinn Evans Architects has a strong portfolio of cultural, civic, educational, and urban infill projects. Both firms have completed a number of theater, museum, and library projects. CBH+A adds a large portfolio in multifamily residential projects. Founded in 1984, Quinn Evans is well known nationally for its work in historic preservation, while CBH+A also has a large number of restoration and adaptive use projects to its credit. Both firms have worked extensively for the Smithsonian Institution.
“This represents a strong step forward, creating new opportunities with shared resources, expertise, and geographic reach that add depth in key market areas,” principals Diane Cho, David Benn and George Holback said in a letter announcing the transition. “Our firms are strikingly similar in terms of services, market expertise, and most importantly, our values and philosophy of design. The strong cultural fit between the two firms, work processes, commitment to clients, and long-term aspirations are major factors in joining forces.”
Diane Cho and David Benn, who are married, recently met in their offices with architecture writer Ed Gunts to discuss the transition, how it came about and what they anticipate in the future.