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AJ100 2010 Highest first-time entrant: PLP Architecture

Of all the awards in this year’s AJ100 this one must be the least surprising

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Founded at the end of September when the five directors of KPF’s London office decided they wanted to set up on their own, PLP hit the ground running and soon had a workforce of 65. Now it has reached 75, with 85 per cent of them former employees of KPF.

After the shock of the departure, PLP made a rapprochement with KPF, and they divvied up the work between them. But the new practice has also picked up jobs such as the UK Centre for Medical Research & Innovation in central London, a mixed-use project in Southwark, south London, a hotel on Abu Dhabi’s waterfront for development company Mubadala, and a new building at La Défense, Paris. ‘The market is very difficult but by chance we have ended up with some good projects,’ said David Leventhal, one of the five founders.

Although some would consider the move’s timing far from ideal, there are evidently no regrets. ‘We are much more flexible, all working in one space,’ said Leventhal. ‘Everybody knows what is happening. It’s a wonderful size to be.’ Fellow founder Ron Bakker says that although the practice may open other offices, ‘our heart will always be in London. We want to grow organically.’

Bakker and Leventhal are excited about taking on their first summer students shortly, and about the PhD student at University College London who they are sponsoring to look at environmental parametric modeling. In fact, they seem excited about everything. ‘It’s pretty much the same group of people who have been working together for 15 years,’ they say. ‘But now we are more free and more flexible.’

Shortlist

CDA = 84
Founded in Edinburgh in 1980, this practice has offices in Glasgow, Manchester and London. Retail is a particular strength.

Page\Park Architects = 93
Although it rightly claims to work all over the UK, the strongest presence of this Glasgow practice is within Scotland. Key projects include a Maggie’s Centre in Inverness.

Reiach and Hall = 93
The most recent triumph for this Edinburgh practice was winning a competition to design the National Nuclear Archive in Wick, Caithness. This year it picked up two RIBA Awards for New Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow and Aberdeen Sports Village.

Morgan Professional Services = 97
Just sneaking in to the AJ100 for the first time, this is the multidisciplinary professional services division of construction group Morgan Sindall, based in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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