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AJ100 Analysis: What you think

We asked architects - as we do every year - for their opinions on a range of subjects.

When it comes to rating the best architecture school, the Bartlett has been top choice for years. This time it has really romped away, with the Architectural Association a distant second, replacing Sheffield university, which was in second place last year. Schools that were on the top list last year but have since disappeared include Westminster and Liverpool.

Not surprisingly, the line-up for most inspirational architect, living or dead, changes little from year to year. There were only four nominees who each received more than three votes this time round (see attached graphics for full lists).

Moving on to opinions of planning authorities, note the dominance of metropolitan areas and - particularly in the case of the worst - of London. Some of this must, of course, be a reflection of where the architects in the AJ100 are working. In any one year, probably few of the practices are interacting with a particular rural planning authority, and so have nothing to report.

The City of London’s high score is a reflection of the development-friendly regime run under the aegis of Peter Rees. Westminster has harvested both plaudits and brickbats. And as for Camden - whatever its shortcomings, they are probably accentuated by the sheer concentration of architects living in the borough. If a planning authority is recalcitrant or unhelpful over a project in an architect’s office they will be disgruntled; but mess with their own home extension and you will have an enemy for life.

‘The most satisying aspects centre around the traditional core activities of practice’

Finally, we asked respondents to name what they thought was the best building designed by another practice in 2009. All the selections turned out to be buildings that have received considerable publicity.

Results show that the most satisfying aspects of architecture centre around the whole design process: carrying out the project, doing a job, and achieving client satisfaction - in fact, the traditional core activities of architectural practice, and the reasons that most architects came into the profession.

Starting the design
‘Winning work based on the quality of your design/submission’; ‘Conceptual design’; ‘Winning new work’

The design process
‘Designing with a creative client’; ‘The design and creative process’; ‘Creating beautiful, useful, inspirational architecture’; ‘The challenge of problem solving’; ‘Working in a studio with a creative team to design inventive buildings that solve clients’ problems’

The end result
‘Contributing to the city, its life and environment’; ‘Producing buildings that raise the human spirit’; ‘Providing 21st-century schools’; ‘The realised project’

Client satisfaction
‘Walking around a completed building with a client and discovering those special places they didn’t expect’; ‘Producing a finished building that is a joy to the users, client and community’; ‘Seeing completed buildings successfully in use’; ‘Exceeding client expectation and seeing a smile on their face’

There’s always one
‘Drinking with the staff’ The negative aspects of architectural work are to do with money, design pressures and general frustrations.

‘Stretching budgets too far, which inhibits design flair’; ‘Losing work to unsustainable low fees’; ‘Chasing payments’; ‘Chasing bad debt’; ‘Listening to bad clients’ excuses for not paying fees’

Design pressures
‘Value engineering’; ‘The fight to produce good quality’; ‘The struggle to convince the more conservative of the benefits of considered design’; ‘The emperor’s new clothes attitude to the state of design in the UK’

Everyday frustration
‘Unnecessary administration’; ‘Being undervalued by the construction industry generally’; ‘The UK planning system’; ‘Bureaucracy’; ‘Dealing with public procurement bureaucracy, legal and fee issues’

Running the business
‘Managing cash flow’; ‘Making people redundant’; ‘Business management’; ‘Managing the staff’

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