Retail Architecture Design Leader MG2 Merges with Experiential Retail Design Firm The Lion’esque Group

January 19, 2020

Redefining the retail experience through a pioneering partnership

International architecture firm MG2, known for its work with leading retail brands such as Target, PCC, DSW, Anthropologie, Costco, and Tommy Bahama, has officially merged with The Lion’esque Group (TLG): a New York-based experiential retail firm focused on immersive pop-up stores. This partnership enables both MG2 and TLG to offer a more extensive, scalable, and complementary array of services to their clients.

This merger is an industry first, and a direct reflection of visible trends within retail: a rapidly-evolving marketplace demanding that brands be agile and flexible enough to create immersive spaces that are interwoven with technology and designed as an interactive, community-driven story. Having both worked with forward-thinking clients such as Nordstrom, Amazon, and Shape Properties, MG2 and TLG are now combining their expertise across experiential design, operational strategy, and architectural services to create a holistic, end-to-end design practice that will help their partners shape and define the future of retail.

“From my initial conversations with Melissa and Nick, the alignment between our values, goals, and what we are most passionate about was clear, as was our mutual focus on creating memorable and transformative experiences for our clients’ customers. At the same time, I have tremendous respect for the unique perspective and expertise TLG brings to MG2 and our clients. I am excited to see what the future brings for both of us.”

—Mitch Smith, CEO, MG2

The Lion’esque Group, founded in 2009 by Melissa Gonzalez and whose clients have included Purple, Brandless, Puma, the RealReal, Citizenry, and Thrive Global, will continue their work on retail strategy and pop-up retail while working with established bricks and mortar brands to transform their spaces into personal, dynamic shopping experiences. The team will become MG2’s New York office, maintaining The Lion’esque Group brand while expanding their global footprint.

“This decision wasn’t just about expanding our capabilities and resources; it was also about aligning ourselves with a partner that shares our vision, entrepreneurial spirit, passion for transformative design, and a nimble approach to learning and adapting to an ever-changing industry. Like TLG, MG2 imagines bolder futures for their clients and helps shape the design solutions to get them there.”

—Melissa Gonzalez, CEO, The Lion’esque Group

Stella & Dot pop-up


AIA Seattle Medal of Honor Winner, David Hewitt, Joins MG2 as Principal

March 6, 2019

Architecture and design firm brings AIA National American Institute’s College of Fellows member on board

Seattle, Washington, March 6, 2019 — MG2, one of the largest architecture firms in the nation and among the top retail design firms in the world, announces that David Hewitt, a member of the AIA National American Institute’s College of Fellows and winner of the AIA Seattle Medal of Honor, has joined the firm as a design principal. David will reinforce MG2’s expertise in mixed-use developments, focusing primarily on the continued growth of their residential portfolio. He believes it is an architect’s duty to design projects that make a long-lasting, positive impact in their community and is infusing MG2’s commercial studio with the same ethos.

Prior to joining MG2, David had his own firm which he started in 1975. His developments are characterized by an emphasis on pedestrian experience, connectivity and communication — including Harbor Steps in downtown Seattle which was named ‘Nation’s Best Apartment Development’ by the Urban Land Institute. In addition to a robust project list of mixed-use and residential developments, he has also worked on light rail stations, transit centers, park and ride facilities and transit-oriented developments (TODs) for Sound Transit, Port of Seattle, King County Metro and Washington State Ferries — all of which further his understanding of how to create projects that integrate seamlessly into the urban environment.


MG2 Announces New Shareholders and Promotions

February 28, 2019

Seattle, Washington, February 25, 2019 - MG2, one of the largest architecture firms in the nation and among the top retail design firms in the world, announces four new shareholders and seven promotions in their Seattle Headquarters and Washington, D.C. office.

Wendy Unzleman Named Shareholder

As VP of Finance, Wendy has brought financial, operational and strategic guidance to MG2 for more than a decade, combining her deep knowledge of the A/E/C industry and experience scaling operations to meet market demands.



Peter Stocker Named Shareholder

As a Principal in the Retail Market at MG2, Peter has led the firm’s brand design and development practice for the past five years. His unique perspective and thoughtful strategic direction in building brands and designing customer experiences have elevated a large body of work at MG2, across all markets. Most recently, Peter has been integral in building the food, beverage and entertainment category as a growing sector with the Retail and Commercial Markets.


Risa Yuki Named Shareholder and Associate Principal

Over her 20-year career at MG2, Risa has significantly impacted the quality of design and delivery projects. Reliable and competitive, she has established outstanding relationships, partnering with her team members, consultants, contractors, jurisdictions and clients. Risa has also been promoted to Associate Principal.


Eric Marks Named Shareholder and Principal

Eric’s broad range of skills extends beyond his role as Retail Practice Lead in the Washington, D.C. office to leadership across markets and regions. His firm-first approach stresses collaboration and team building. Eric is results and quality-driven, and challenges colleagues to perform at their highest levels. Eric has also been promoted to Principal.


“The addition of these four seasoned leaders to our shareholder team is critical as we set the strategic vision for the future of MG2,” said MG2 CEO Mitchell Smith, AIA. “Their collective experience, knowledge and commitment to the firm and staff are invaluable to our growth as we strive to create transformative experiences for our clients.”

In addition to the four new shareholders, MG2 has also promoted Balmiki Bhattacharya, Mai-Lee Lam, Christine Lasley, Janelle Schneider and Shannon Suess to the role of Associate Principal.


MG2 Unveils New Design for Allen Edmonds

December 3, 2018

MG2 created the new design for three recently remodeled Allen Edmonds stores: Rockefeller Center in New York, Michigan Avenue in Chicago and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California.

SEATTLE — (December 3, 2018) — MG2, an international retail design firm, created the new design for three recently remodeled Allen Edmonds stores (Rockefeller Center in New York, Michigan Avenue in Chicago and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California).

“In a meeting early on with the Allen Edmonds team, we gained valuable insight into the brand’s retail pain points and, in response, were able to share how MG2’s design process could help evolve the brand’s in-store experience to appeal both to new, younger consumers as well as its devoted clientele,” said MG2 principal and retail market leader MJ Munsell.

The new retail environment fuses industrial elements — a nod to the brand’s nearly century-old legacy — with modern details accenting the artisanal craftsmanship of the footwear. The design weaves elements of Allen Edmond’s Port Washington, Wisconsin factory into the consumer experience in-store, through furnishings, finishes and visual merchandising.

MG2’s design emphasizes cross-merchandising, where apparel and accessories are used to showcase the versatility of Allen Edmonds’ footwear. It also emphasizes the heirloom quality pieces, which — if cared for properly — should last for decades. In that way, the value of quality and enduring style of a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes becomes immeasurable. The new design seeks to communicate that brand promise to a new generation that appreciates timeless quality despite living in an era of fast-fashion.

MG2 partnered with KPA (architect of record) to execute the design.


MG2 Retail Market Leader MJ Munsell Receives Industry Honor

November 6, 2018

MG2 announces that Principal MJ Munsell has been awarded the prestigious Luminary honor from Design:Retail magazine. This is an annual award provided to those who show perseverance, passion and ongoing achievement in the retail design industry.

MG2 announces that Principal MJ Munsell has been awarded the prestigious Luminary honor from Design:Retail magazine. This is an annual award provided to those who show perseverance, passion and ongoing achievement in the retail design industry.

“I am humbled to receive this honor,” says Munsell. “It’s really a testament to all the years I’ve worked in retail design with amazing clients who share the belief that a brand is a living, breathing extension of who we are as consumers, and what values we believe in.”

Munsell is an expert at translating brands into impactful customer moments. She was hired in 2013 to lead MG2’s retail market providing overarching design strategy and direction to take clients’ brands to the next level. She thrives on leading teams and clients through an innovative process that blends brand stories, business goals and consumer insights into memorable experiences. She has collaborated with some of the world’s most notable brands including Nordstrom, Harrods, Allen Edmonds, Evereve, Anthropologie, White Castle and Soma.

“This honor is coveted by those in the industry and I’m so proud of MJ and what she has done to transform MG2’s retail practice and the industry as a whole,” says MG2 CEO Mitch Smith. “We focus on consumer experiences and she has led the way. Retail experiences are better because of her many contributions and I can’t think of anyone else more deserving.”

For Munsell, retail is about creating memories. It’s not about selling stuff; it’s about connecting people and community and adding value in an authentic, memorable way. She has several formative retail memories that drive her work with clients and her team, including early memories watching her grandmother work in her store called The Vogue in a small town in southern Illinois. She helped her customers feel good about themselves, and what she sold in the store was selected with them in mind. She served the local community, gave her customers a moment outside of their not-always-easy lives and showed honesty and integrity.

Despite the ever-changing retail environment, she believes there will always be a place for brick-and-mortar experiences. She states, “Consumers enter a physical location for interaction with others, to see and test products, for advisement from real people, for community and inspiration and to experience something better than one could imagine.”

MJ regularly contributes her insights of the retail industry on MG2’s blog covering topics such as Retail Without Rules and how Millennials aren’t ruining retail.


MG2 Announces Major Milestone in Costco Campus Expansion

October 23, 2018

MG2 announces that longtime partner, Costco Wholesale, has received land use approval from the City of Issaquah for the campus expansion the architectural firm is designing.

With continued growth on the horizon for Costco’s 30-acre corporate campus, MG2 is now expanding the original master plan. The two companies have worked together throughout the complex approval process by first developing a 30-year development agreement with the City of Issaquah. The agreement details the framework for the campus expansion while also supporting the city’s new urban center vision. The partnership also supports infrastructure enhancements critical to both Costco’s growth and Issaquah.

The proposed expansion includes a nine-story (620,000 SF) office building with one level of below-grade parking, and a ten-story (685,000 SF) parking structure with 35,000 SF of programmed space at the ground level. Once complete the high-performance office building will be home to 4,000 employees.

The new additions incorporate visual transitions integrating similar colors and materials as the existing campus buildings while evolving the design aesthetic with the introduction of a high-performance building exterior. Efficiency and sustainability are a shared priority for MG2, Costco and the City of Issaquah, so the building’s envelope is designed in concert with the mechanical systems to achieve an elegant aesthetic combined with energy performance. Another important consideration when looking at the master planning and new buildings was to create a graceful transition between the urban and natural environment. Costco’s campus sits within the city’s newly-defined urban core and is adjacent to Issaquah Creek and the Pickering Trail at the campus’ eastern edge. A critical aspect of the design process with the city was to preserve pedestrian connectivity as a community amenity.

“It’s an exciting time for our team as we work on another expansion for our key client,” said MG2 President Russ Hazzard. “It’s another rewarding relationship marker as we continue to do transformative work together.”


MG2 Announces Strategic Promotions and a New Hire

January 25, 2018

In their new roles, they will continue to grow while mentoring those around them as the firm strives to live the vision statement of creating transformative experiences in everything we do.

MG2, one of the largest architecture firms in the nation, begins 2018 announcing the promotion of three firm leaders and the addition of a new design lead in its Irvine office.

Wendy Unzelman promoted to VP of Finance. Unzelman joined MG2 in 2008. She has served as the company’s controller and Director of Accounting, and with her new role she will be focused on directing finance strategy. She will remain responsible for financial reporting, planning and analysis and managing the firm’s fiscal and accounting data functions. In addition, she will assist the COO with the implementation of initiatives related to the financial mission and goals of firm.

Peter Stocker promoted to Principal. Stocker, most recently an associate principal, has a unique understanding of every element of the branding and marketing spectrum, and he works in tandem with MG2 design teams to build the brand side of projects.

Kristen Baker to HR Director. Baker, hired in 2017, is being promoted to HR Director. She brings 12 years of experience to MG2’s HR department and she specializes in partnering with leaders on people initiatives and strategies. She approaches her work with a passion to identify programs and solutions that are business-driven, people focused and create a positive experience for employees and leaders.

“This group plays an important role in the success and growth of our firm, and I’m grateful for their contributions, which are recognized by all our employees,” said MG2 CEO Mitchell Smith, AIA. “I know they will continue to push themselves in their new roles while mentoring those around them as we all strive to live our vision statement of creating transformative experiences in everything we do.”

MG2 is also excited to welcome Manuel Bouza to the firm. Bouza has more than 30 years of experience designing national and international mixed-use, retail, hospitality, residential and office projects, which he brings to his new role as design leader for MG2’s Irvine office. He creates unique places that exceed the expectations of clients and create memorable experiences for consumers. His expertise is demonstrated in many notable projects including the Getty Center in Los Angeles.


MG2 Acquires Fuller/Sears Architects

October 3, 2017

Acquisition allows MG2 to expand its retail, residential and mixed-use design practice

In a strategic move to increase its retail and commercial design practice, MG2 announced today the acquisition of Seattle firm, Fuller/Sears Architects.

As of October 3, MG2 welcomes Bill Fuller as a principal and Steve Johnson as an associate principal along with their staff to MG2’s Seattle office.

“It has been an exciting time working with the Fuller/Sears leadership team on the acquisition,” said CEO and Chairman of the Board Mitch Smith. “Our practices and values align harmoniously and everyone is looking forward to having the new team members join us.”

Fuller/Sears is a full service architectural design firm with a strong local and regional following. Their staff is bringing expertise in retail centers, retail-based mixed-use projects, mid-rise residential, office and adaptive reuse / historic / landmarked buildings to MG2’s practice.

“Joining MG2 and its impressive team will allow us to greatly expand our client base, project types and geographic reach,” said Principal Bill Fuller. “We’re honored to join MG2 and look forward to what our combined expertise can now deliver to our clients.”


MG2 Welcomes New Managing Principal in Irvine Office

September 12, 2017

Griffith brings a multitude of skills to his new role by being a holistic thinker. He looks at the big picture and projects as a whole, everything from the user experience to empathy for the client and building relationships.

MG2 announced today the addition of a new managing principal in its Irvine, California office, Mark Griffith.

Griffith has more than 20 years of experience in the architecture industry. He is a native Californian and has practiced architecture all around the world. He had an exciting start to his career in the entertainment industry working with clients like Disney, Universal Studios and Song Entertainment. His passion for this industry eventually led him into hospitality – hotels, night clubs and restaurants.

He brings a multitude of skills to his new role by being a holistic thinker. He looks at the big picture and projects as a whole, everything from the user experience to empathy for the client and building relationships. He has a good eye for design and enjoys working with designers to provide inspiration and direction.

“As I start a new chapter in my professional career, I’m excited to join MG2,” said Griffith. “My strength lies in being the leader of the orchestra and I’m looking forward to working with the talented people of this firm. I’m excited to work on the project types I’m most passionate about: retail and hospitality, which are two sectors the firm excels at.”

MG2’s Irvine office works on a variety of client work including Costco, Vans and Target.

“I look forward to having Mark – with his specific skill set – lead our Irvine office,” said CEO and Chairman of the Board Mitch Smith. “This gives us the opportunity to expand our portfolio in his areas of expertise, which include hospitality, retail, F&B and theme park design.”


MG2 Announces a New Shareholder, an Internal Promotion and Multiple New Hires

January 25, 2017

Firm begins 2017 by naming a new shareholder, promoting an emerging leader in the D.C. office and adding four senior associates to its Seattle staff.

MG2, consistently ranked among the largest architecture firms in the nation and one of the top retail design firms in the world, begins 2017 by naming a new shareholder, promoting an emerging leader in the D.C. office and adding four senior associates to its Seattle staff.

Myra Vaughn elected as shareholder. The addition of Vaughn, who last year was promoted to principal in the Seattle office, creates a total of 15 shareholders for MG2. With more than 20 years of experience and a proven record of leading and developing relationships with top retailers, Vaughn is expected to contribute a unique voice to MG2’s ownership team.

“Myra is a key leader at MG2, and we are proud to recognize her efforts,” said CEO Mitch Smith. “Her passionate advocacy for clients, along with the mentorship she offers young AEC professionals, has greatly shaped our firm’s culture.”

Eric Marks promoted to associate principal. For the past four years, Marks has served as a senior associate in MG2’s Washington D.C. office, leading a variety of retail, office and master planning projects. As an experienced project manager and licensed architect, Marks will now take on an even larger role in leading clients through complex design and construction project opportunities.

“It’s always gratifying to be able to promote leaders from within,” said CEO Mitch Smith. “Eric’s technical knowledge, dedication and demeanor have made him an indispensable part of MG2’s East Coast
operations and earned him a reputation as a leader who gets things done.”

MG2 is also excited to welcome four senior associates to its Commercial and Retail Studios.

Adrian Lam                   Shannon Suess              Karen Chalmers            Janelle Schneider

Adrian Lam joins Commercial Studio. With more than 20 years of experience, Lam has led design work on a variety of project types in the commercial, retail and residential categories. At MG2, he will help manage the firm’s expanding list of retail development projects for domestic and international clients.

Shannon Suess joins Commercial Studio. Suess’s career focus is in hospitality environments. During the past 10 years, she designed luxury hotel projects throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In her new role at MG2, she will be relied upon to provide direction and coordination through all phases of design development for large-scope, complex projects.

Karen Chalmers joins Retail Studio. Chalmers joins MG2 after 15 years working for Starbuck’s internal store design team. In her most recent position, she supervised the standardization of in-store programs to ensure brand consistency throughout the Asia Pacific region. Her unique retail design background, project management skills and experience with program management make her an ideal partner for MG2 clients looking to rollout new retail concepts.

Janelle Schneider joins Retail Studio. Prior to MG2, Schneider was a senior production manager for Nordstrom. In her new role, she will manage the selection and delivery of interior architecture finishes, casework and fixture concepts for retail clients. Additionally, she will work internally with studio design leaders to direct new concept designs across multiple markets.


MG2 Designs New Retail Concept with Tommy Bahama for Disney Springs

June 22, 2016

MG2, in partnership with Tommy Bahama, announces the opening of a new retail design concept, Iconic Resort, in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.


MG2, in partnership with Tommy Bahama, announces the opening of a new retail design concept, Iconic Resort, in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. Iconic Resort is the first of three new retail concepts MG2 designed for the retailer.

The 4,100-square-foot store is full of distinctive architectural and interior design elements rooted in central Florida’s rich history. A custom teak trellis creates a warm and welcoming entry ushering guests into the store. Natural light and flagstone pavers bring the outdoors inside and set the stage for the brightly-colored merchandise. The location’s fixtures incorporate fresh wood tones of bleached maple, light teak and grey-washed scrubbed oak – all featuring either brushed or dark bronze accents. A live garden grove with a soaring skylight behind the cash wrap captures Florida’s natural beauty.

“Keeping the brand’s mantra ‘Make Life One Long Weekend™’ in mind, we designed three new unique store concepts,” said Principal MJ Munsell. “Each space is inspired by the spaces a couple might inhabit throughout decades of sun-soaked and saltwater getaways.”

Other MG2 concepts set to roll out later this year, Family Retreat and Island Bohemian, affords Tommy Bahama the benefit of scalability as it seeks to deliver each concept to multiple markets varying in size and programming.