Two project collaboration powers are joining forces.

Autodesk has agreed to acquire Constructware, a leading Web-based construction-oriented collaboration service company, for $46 million.

Based in San Rafael, Calif., Autodesk owns the Web-based design and project collaboration service Buzzsaw. Officials from both Autodesk and Constructware say they plan to combine the products into an offering with more features than either has now.

 Starting at different ends of the development path, the two companies have pursued the goal of a unified collaboration product and a standard way to communicate construction information, says Amar Hanspal, vice president of Autodesk Collaborative Solutions.

Constructware approached the collaboration problem from the construction end and Buzzsaw from the design end.

The acquisition will let them join their services in the middle. “We realized we could keep walking down the path that we were on and take five or six years to get there, or take the best that we knew and the best things that Constructware knows and accelerate getting that to the industry,” Hanspal says.

 Autodesk expects to close the deal in 30 to 60 days, but already has its board of directors approval.

Constructware’s Alpharetta, Ga.-based operation will continue operations “pretty much as usual” for the short run and keep its operations center and “the vast majority” of its approximately 65-person staff, says president and CEO Scott Unger. The integration of the Buzzsaw and Constructware teams will happen “very quickly,” he adds.

 “Ultimately there will be a significant integration with all the Autodesk products and services,” Unger says. “Buzzsaw’s success, and they have had a lot of it, is on the design side of the fence. Constructware has the detailed project controls associated with construction, including bid management components they don’t have. It’s a terrific complement.”

   Constructware co-founders Unger and Brian Moore, vice president for product management and development, will continue to have a role. “They are not going away,” says Hanspal. “They’re one of the reasons we wanted to acquire Constructware. They are a good bunch of people, they have the interest of the customers in mind and they are people who are intimate with the construction industry.”

 Although new titles have yet to be determined, Unger says he expects to become head of product marketing and product management for the Autodesk Collaborative Services division, which will include Buzzsaw and Constructware. Moore will be tasked with developing product vision, setting direction and innovation “and how the two products will come together,” says Hanspal.

 Both brand identities will be kept intact initially, says Unger. “First we have to determine what we will do with the solutions, and then the feedback we receive from the market will determine if we keep one brand, both brands, or introduce a new brand.  We both have very strong brands and we recognize that. That’s a great concern.”

 Constructware was founded in 1994 and funded principally by Moore and Unger with venture capital, angel investments and some employee participation that comprises a minority ownership percentage.  No construction companies were investors, Unger says, and investments will be “100% settled” in the cash transaction.