Brininstool + Lynch is no more! Yesterday, the 34-year-old Chicago architecture office, known for its deft neo-modernist work, announced that it is closing the practice. The decision was made to wind down the office after the death of cofounder, Brad Lynch, last year. However, as endings tend to lead to new beginnings, from the ashes of the old firm a new practice has been forged. At the same time as B+L ceased operations, firm partners Jen Park and Brad Fowler announced the launch of a new firm: ParkFowler Plus.
“We’re changing the name,” Park told AN. “Brad and David [Brininstool] did a great job instilling the value of design in us—the root of modernist aesthetics, which are foundational to us. But we are a different generation, so we bring our own process and thinking and modes of practice, and that changes what our output may be. Also, how we want to work with people internally and our teams being open and transparent and collaborative is important to us.”
“Changing the name wasn’t taken lightly,” Fowler added. “The question was, how do you respect legacy and keep that going? The new name looks to the future, while giving a nod to what’s past—the ‘Plus.’ It’s strategic in that fact, but gives us new energy going into the future, especially after a tragic event like Brad’s passing.”
According to Park and Fowler, discussions about transitioning the firm’s leadership and the rebranding began several years before Lynch’s death, and Lynch was a big part of that process. Brininstool was also stepping away from the practice and Park and Fowler—partners in the firm with 30 years of combined experience—had already been nominated to take the reigns. Lynch’s death accelerated the rebranding process.
ParkFowler Plus will continue working with the same clients to complete the projects B+L has on the boards, including projects for Columbia College and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. The practice is also working on a luxury multi-family development in the Union Market area of Washington D.C.; reimagining a post-industrial site along the Chicago river as a new cultural hub; a high-rise in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood; and a private residence in southwest Wisconsin, among others. The partners say they’re also excited to drum up new clients under their new name.
When asked what, if any aesthetic changes might be coming in the work itself, Park and Fowler had some ideas:
“We’re going to have that underlying modernist feel, but we’re a little more playful,” Park said. “Ours is going to be a little more opulent and a little warmer. We’re going to soften it up and make it more comfortable.”
“We think diagrammatically and animate space differently,” Fowler said. “It’s important to be embedded in the social and built fabric of our communities. We’ll always be keeping that in mind. We also want to make sure that at the end of the day people love and enjoy what we design for them. That really stands at the forefront of what we’re doing.”