After 35-plus years of leading a thriving residential architecture firm designing award-winning traditional and not-so-traditional homes and other structures on Nantucket, Mass., and throughout the Northeast, Lyman Perry, AIA, is scaling back a bit. At age 72, he's beginning to think about his future and life transitions.

To eliminate the managerial burden of running a 20-person practice, he's cut back on his design and support staff and is now operating his studios in Berwyn, Pa., and Nantucket with a handful of employees and is hiring former staff designers on an as-needed basis.

Currently, Perry is working on four projects as Lyman Perry Architect, but he's also embarking on a newly formed partnership with the slightly younger, but no less accomplished firm of Hutker Architects.

Perry and Hutker founder and principal Mark Hutker, AIA, had known of each other's work for years before they met, and after a few meetings they found they had a lot in common.

"We came to mutually respect each other's point of view," Hutker says. "We noticed that we thought a lot alike about how to work with our clients, the aspect of design we want to pursue, and the level of quality."

Hutker's firm, which has been strategically positioning itself for growth once the new-home market rebounds, gains from the partnership by expanding and strengthening its presence on Nantucket through Perry's studio. "It's a market that Lyman's been in for years, so it's old hat for him and a new opportunity for us. It's a win-win all around."

The partnership is a natural move on all fronts. Both firms are adept at turning out warm, beautiful, and highly livable homes in the New England coast's multitude of vernacular styles, but both also have an affinity for more modern and sculptural work as well. And while demand for residential design on Nantucket has dropped off in the past six months, Perry is seeing some confidence returning to the market.

Perry's and Hutker's mutual admiration and the parallels between their individual aesthetic visions and their approach to design makes theirs a logical collaboration.

"[Mark] is on the upward swing with his firm and his practice, and I'm facing thinking about my future, which means I don't want to be encumbered," Perry says. "For me it's rejuvenating and heartening to see someone who can envision the advantages of a partnership like this."