Sydney architecture practice McConnel Smith and Johnson Architects (MSJ) will merge with larger firm Conrad Gargett, marking the end of a 65-year stretch as an independent firm.

The merger sees the entirety of the McConnel Smith and Johnson Architects team retained within Conrad Gargett’s Sydney office, with MSJ directors Ian Moon, Mark Willett and John Zadro appointed as principals of that studio.

“Merging with Conrad Gargett gives the team at MSJ the opportunity to leverage our design strength in health, research and education to a wider base of clients both nationally and internationally,” said Ian Moon. “We see this as a complimentary merger given the synergies of our two practices in terms of longevity, capability and design-thinking”.

The Johnson House (1963), by McConnel Smith and Johnson Architects.

In the 65 year history, MSJ was established a reputation for its “responsive and responsible” practice, and for its rich design language. Notable projects include the Johnson House (1963), the Commonwealth State Law Courts (1967) and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (2012).

Conrad Gargett, meanwhile, celebrates its 130th anniversary in 2020, having been founded in Brisbane in 1890. It has grown through a series of mergers over the past decade, with Riddel Architecture in 2012 and Ancher Mortlock Woolley in 2013.

“Our continual evolution as a practice has enabled us to harness diverse thinking to creatively solve complex problems; skills that are becoming increasingly urgent in meeting the current global challenges of climate, social equity, security and health,” said Conrad Gargett managing director Lawrence Toaldo, announcing the merger on 1 September. “Today marks the next phase of our growth as we look forward to welcoming the MSJ team.

“The team at MSJ has a reputation for successfully delivering major hospital and healthcare, educational and research, residential and recreational developments, all with place-making at the core. This aligns perfectly with Conrad Gargett and will present many national and global opportunities for the practice in the future.”

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