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Designing a merger

Dale and Associates, Barranco join forces

Two of Mississippi’s most prominent architectural firms are merging, creating one of the largest, if not the largest, Mississippi-based design firms.

On Nov. 29, Dale and Associates Architects, P.A., and Barranco, PLLC, both of Jackson, announced they were combining. The new entity, to be known as Dale Partners, becomes effective Jan. 1.

From left, Michael Barranco, Doug Dale, Jeff Barnes and Charlie Alexander.

From left, Michael Barranco, Doug Dale, Jeff Barnes and Charlie Alexander.

According to T. Doug Dale, AIA, principal at Dale and Associates, which also has an office on the Gulf Coast, the merger is the culmination of discussions he has had with Michael Barranco, AIA, for years about pooling their resources.

“Michael and I started talked when he opened his firm,” Dale said. “Over the years, he has become a friend, both personally and professionally, and we share the same value system and philosophies. This summer we had some time together, and we assessed where we were in our professional careers, the ownership of our firms. It just seemed like the time was right.”

Barranco, principal and manager of his firm since 1999, noted that he involved Dale and Associates in his firm’s very first joint venture. The corroboration has proven successful.

“We look forward to bringing our clients an expanded depth of resources and expertise, available on a daily basis,” said Barranco in a statement. “I’m optimistic about our future as Dale Partners and the opportunity to complement the experience of the principals who have built Dale’s exceptional reputation.”

Dale said there will be no staff cuts or major organizational changes as Dale and Associates other principals, Jeffrey Barnes, AIA, and Charles Alexander, AIA, will remain. Barranco and his staff are scheduled to move into the Dale office in downtown Jackson Feb. 1.

“Recognizing that our strength is based on the commitment, talents and years of experience of our clients, we enthusiastically welcome Michael to our team,” Dale said.

While the firms share the same values and philosophy, the areas of specialties complement each other.

Dale’s portfolio, developed over the course of 30-plus years, includes significant educational, governmental and corporate projects. Notable Jackson area projects include the Capital City Convention Complex, Mississippi Telecom Center, The Pinnacle at Jackson Place, Capital Center Convention Center Hotel, Union Station renovation, master plan of the proposed Jackson River Walk and the Mississippi Capitol Complex. In addition, the Coast office handled the restoration of the iconic Biloxi Lighthouse and designed the new Biloxi City Library/Community Complex.

Barranco, PLLC, has forged a reputation in the New Urbanism movement. The firm designed the Township at Colony Park in Ridgeland, considered the metro Jackson area’s first traditional neighborhood design, as well as the mixed-use Town of Lost Rabbit on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. A sampling of other projects include the master plan for Belhaven University in Jackson, Jackson State University’s new Student Union and renovations to Banner Hall in Jackson.

Barranco is also personally credited with initiating the charrette idea to help rebuild the Coast following Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in the historic Mississippi Renewal Forum.

Barranco has forged a 21-year career, the first half of that spent as manager of the Jackson architecture division of a 250-member Memphis, Tenn.-based design and engineering firm. He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Mississippi State University, studying traditional European town planning in England and Italy. Barranco is a member of the Mississippi State Board of Architecture, and is a past president of the Mississippi chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Dale has garnered 70-plus design awards throughout his career, and is also a member of the Mississippi State Board of Architecture and past president of the Mississippi chapter of AIA. He earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Barnes has three decades of design experience, and has worked with Dale since 1981. Also a Mississippi alumnus, he is involved in several organizations, including the Advisory Council for the School of Architecture at Mississippi State.

Alexander is the firm’s director of construction administration, and has more than 37 years of experience in corporate, educational and healthcare facilities. A graduate of Auburn University, he is a board member of the Mississippi AIA chapter.

A smooth transition should be expected as Dale and Associates has a long history of partnering. The most notable examples are the agreement it struck with Morris Architects of Houston, Texas, forming Dale/Morris in 2006 following Katrina, and its work with Gary Bailey (Dale/Bailey) in school designs.

Dale is adamant that Dale Partners is less about just being larger, and more about expanding its products and services.

He added that the new combined firm is planning on having an official “grand opening” at the end of January.

The day after speaking to the Mississippi Business Journal about the merger, Dale surprised his staff, who had not learned of the merger, by leaving a pair of sunglasses on each desk with a note to meet in the conference room for an announcement. Why the sunglasses?

“Because the future is so bright,” said Dale with a laugh.

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