MulvannyG2 Architecture

Specialty: Retail, office, mixed-use, hospitality, residential high-rise

Management: Mitch Smith, CEO; Ming Zhang, president; Jerry Lee, chairman

Founded: 1971

Headquarters: Bellevue

2009 revenues: $51 million

Projected 2010 revenues: $48 million

Current projects: Westfield Sarasota Square mall expansion, Florida; Costco stores, New York; Target store, Merrifield, Va.; Xi’an Daming Palace retail and commercial development, China; Suning Chengdu, China; Wuxi Pacific Place, China

Image courtesy of MulvannyG2 Architecture
MulvannyG2 is designing this Target store for a pedestrian-scaled mixed-use development in Merrifield, Va.

MulvannyG2 Architecture may be the second-largest retail design firm in the U.S., but the lure of the world’s burgeoning economies has drawn some of its attention overseas.

The firm has been working on projects in China since 1996, and opened an office in Shanghai in 2002. Its recent work there includes Wuxi Pacific Place, a 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use project, and Suning Chengdu, a mixed-use development with a 45-story hotel and office tower over a 12-story retail podium.

Other projects span the Eastern Hemisphere: MulvannyG2 in recent years has worked in Rwanda, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan and elsewhere.

The international market has been a boon for MulvannyG2, said President Ming Zhang, given the sustained sluggishness of the U.S. economy.

“The local market is quite slow,” he said, so “the focus (for MulvannyG2) is throughout the whole nation and internationally.”

A global market

China accounts for 3 percent of the firm’s work, and the Shanghai office has a staff of 18. The country’s strong economy has attracted the interest of architecture firms from around the world.

“It’s a truly global architectural market, particularly in this tough time,” Zhang said.

Firms that work in China need to be on their game. Zoning rules, greater competition for work and the improving quality of homegrown firms mean that international firms seeking work there can’t assume that choice projects will fall into their laps.

That’s why MulvannyG2 established a local office, Zhang said.

“A lot of people are trying to find work there,” he said, “but there are enough opportunities to those who perform to a high standard.”

Tough in the U.S.

While the Shanghai office has been growing, offices in the U.S. have been shedding staff. The Seattle area has been hardest hit, but the Washington, D.C., office has been performing well. Other offices are in Portland and Irvine, Calif. Overall, staffing levels have declined a bit, Zhang said, but the firm expects to do more hiring in the year ahead.

MulvannyG2’s client base is planted firmly in the private sector. Zhang said the firm won’t mess with the formula that’s been working for it.

“We’ve followed our business plan,” he said. “Rather than refocus energy in new markets, we will continue to focus on our core markets.”

India, another Asian country with a rapidly expanding economy, has yet to present any big opportunities for the firm, Zhang said, “but we’re constantly looking to build relationships.”

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