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Ratio Architects acquires North Carolina firm

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A prominent Indianapolis architectural firm whose high-profile projects include the Indiana State Museum and the Indiana Convention Center is expanding into North Carolina through an acquisition.

Ratio Architects Inc. announced Monday it has acquired Raleigh-based Cherry Huffman Architects. Financial terms of the transaction between the two private firms, which became effective Jan. 1, were not disclosed.

Cherry Huffman was founded in 1992 by Louis Cherry and Dan Huffman and has 16 employees. Ratio executives became aware of the firm while working in the North Carolina market on projects for Duke University in Durham.

Ratio has 72 employees and had $9.9 million in revenue in 2009. It’s the fourth-largest architectural firm in Indianapolis, according to IBJ statistics.

“We started looking into what it might mean to have a greater presence [in Raleigh-Durham],” Ratio CEO Bill Browne said Monday morning. “We found that [[Cherry Huffman’s] vision, goals and principals were very much aligned with ours.”

Browne said the acquisition also should allow Ratio to compete for projects in parts of Virginia and South Carolina. Besides Indiana, Ratio has projects in Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina, and is pursuing work in Florida.

Cherry, who was named one of Ratio's six principals as part of the merger, said the deal allows his firm to better compete for projects.

“For us, as our marketplace has evolved in the past five to six years, there’s much more of an expectation of a national presence,” he said. “For us to maintain a presence in the marketplace, we needed to do something to align ourselves with a [larger firm].”

Cherry Huffman’s projects include the design of a high school and theater building in Raleigh, as well as an education center at North Carolina State University.

Ratio’s acquisition of Cherry Huffman is the firm’s second. In 2004, it purchased a small practice in Champaign, Ill., home of the University of Illinois, to take advantage of opportunities there.

Browne, an Indianapolis native, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Illinois and the University of Florida, respectively, before helping  launch Ratio in 1982.

At the time, Browne and developers Cornelius “Lee” Alig and Harold Garrison owned Mansur Development Co. and HDG Architects, the predecessor to Ratio.

Operating the two companies enabled the trio to control the development and design of their projects, which in the beginning slanted toward historic buildings. Browne became president of architectural operations in 1985 and bought out his partners two years later, prompting the name change to Ratio.
 

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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