The AJ100 is a ranking of the largest architectural practices in the UK, measured by the number of qualified architects employed. The most successful and innovative AJ100 practices were announced this month at the gala dinner and awards ceremony at the Tower of London.
Best Use of Technology: Bryden Wood for the Creative Technologies Team
The judges said: ‘These ingenious tools, which can be plugged into an architect’s existing 3D modelling programmes, allow designers to quickly get through the complexity of the regulatory landscape and give more time to creativity. As well as removing boredom and waste, these fun apps also democratise the design process and empower clients.’
Building of the Year: Grimshaw – London Bridge Station
The judges praised the resolution of such a layered and multifaceted brief for the London Bridge Station project. One commended how ‘the design process seems to have peeled away the complexity to come to the solution’, while another observed: ‘Such a complicated building, yet so much clarity’.
Client of the Year: Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust, Ealing Council nominated by Jestico + Whiles
Jestico + Whiles nominated its clients for resolutely driving the transformation of Pitzhanger into an exemplary historic venue that does full justice to Soane’s original design.
Clients’ Choice Award: HTA Design
HTA Design has had particular success pioneering modular design, with projects including 295 Holloway Road, a 13-storey development of student accommodation in London’s Islington, which took just 15 months from planning to completion. The practice is currently building the tallest modular development in the world, 101 George Street, which will rise to 44 storeys in Croydon.
Collaboration of the Year: Squire + Partners with SAWA (Socially Active Workshop Architecture) for Cambodia Agriculture & Technology Centre
SAWA and Squires worked together not only on design development but on fundraising and promotion. This included holding a number of supper clubs at the practice’s office in Brixton and showing illustrations and concept models at the 2018 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. They also developed a travel package for design and engineering professionals willing to volunteer their expertise during the four-month construction period.
Contribution to the Profession: Sadie Morgan
‘I’m a great believer in enabling others,’ she says. ‘We have an extraordinarily great team at dRMM which has grown up with us. There’s nothing more satisfying then seeing the team make fabulous architecture, and I can help and support that. But I feel like it’s time to let others spread their wings, and they need to be given the space to do that.’ She is, she says, someone who needs to be active, whether championing design to industry and government or pursuing an impressive variety of energetic hobbies, including sailing, cycling, riding and mountain climbing. Treatment for cancer three years ago only spurred her on further.
Employer of the Year: JTP
‘JTP’s architecture is about people and collaboration and this runs through everything the practice does,’ said the judges. ‘They really walk the talk in terms of their values.’
Executive Architect of the Year: Design Delivery Unit (Part of Scott Brownrigg Group)
‘They added an extraordinary amount of value without diminishing the design at all – with a good heart and sensitivity.’ This was the judges’ enthusiastic verdict on the winners.
Fastest Growing Practice Award: Darling Associates
The practice has principal offices in London, Manchester, and Poznan in Poland, and saw a 62 per cent increase in total permanent staff in the UK, with total architectural fees rising by a fifth to £8.4 million since the previous year.
International Practice of the Year: Foster + Partners
‘Foster + Partners has, with exceptional consistency, defined the highest standards of professional practice in a world of rapid and complex change,’ one judge noted. ‘Operating as a synthetic and diverse design and research ecology, its work spans the honing of fine detail to the evolution of policies and tools.’
New Member of the Year: Arney Fender Katsalidis
The practice was founded in 2013 and has 42 architects in the UK. The practice has another studio in Toronto, set up in 2017. Together with its Australian sister practice Fender Katsalidis, the firm’s total staff headcount is about 200.
Practice of the Year: Grimshaw
‘The work they are doing in diversity is remarkable and should impact on other big practices,’ one judge remarked. Another said: ‘They are taking a risk by changing the way they operate and are using their size and resource to great advantage. Grimshaw seems to be cost-focused rather than profit-focused and that means they can focus on process and on quality of design not just on “getting it done”.
Sustainable Practice of the Year: Architype
Judges felt that sustainability was in Architype’s DNA, with the practice leading ‘across the board in breadth and depth because sustainability permeates the ethos of the practice’.
See the full AJ100 table here.