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editorial

AJ's celebration of the biggest names in UK architecture

With the publication of the AJ100 survey of Britain's biggest and most profitable practices, two predictions can be made with absolute certainty.

The first is that we will receive a spate of complaints from small practitioners declaring that bigger is not necessarily better, and that the AJ100 provides a prejudiced and partial overview of the profession. The second is that somebody - probably Will Alsop - will issue a clarion call to compile a list of the best, as opposed to simply the biggest, practices in the UK.

Small practices are, of course, an essential part of the British architectural scene. But attempting to quantify their performance in terms of ranking and statistics is not an intelligent means of assessing the contribution which they make. Imagine a list of the 100 smallest practices where numerous one-man bands jostle for position, and ranking by fee income is determined by going into impertinent and unnecessary detail as the exact amount of money named practitioners take home each year. The AJ has long since determined that it is far more appropriate to showcase such work with initiatives such as AJ Small Projects - our annual competition specifically designed to promote small practice's work. (The best of this year's entries will be on show at the RIBA from 11 April. ) But the work of large practices is just as easily overlooked. For every familiar name on the AJ100 list there is a not-so-familiar name: a sizeable practice, which provides architecture for clients and employment for architects, with little or no recognition from the architectural press. The AJ100 is a rare opportunity to celebrate the contribution - both economic and aesthetic - of our largest practices, and to pay tribute to their commercial success.

As to Will Alsop's argument that, ultimately, the measure of an architectural practice's work is the quality of its buildings as opposed to the size of its profit margin or the quantity of its staff - we couldn't agree more.

Which is why we consistently promote what we believe to be the best of contemporary architecture by the simple expedient of publishing it every week.

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