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Atkins reaches AJ100 top spot

End of an era as Atkins replaces BDP as Britain’s biggest practice

BDP has been knocked off the top spot in the AJ100, the definitive list of the UK’s biggest architecture firms, for the first time in nine years.

The practice has been replaced in pole position by last year’s runner-up Atkins.

Atkins confirmed it had taken on nearly 100 qualified UK architects in 2008, boosting its total to 381 – 34 more than BDP, which added just three architects, taking its total to 347.

However, since the figures were compiled in January both firms have been forced to make redundancies. BDP’s architect workforce has dropped to 325, while Atkins, which could not supply exact figures for architects, also shed 1,200 staff globally.

Despite its growth, Atkins remained second to BDP on UK architecture fees. Atkins actually saw a fall in income from £38 million in 2007 to £33 million in 2008, while BDP’s UK fee income grew from £54.8 million to £63 million – almost double that of any other AJ100 practice.

Atkins more than doubled its overseas fee income from £15 million in 2007 to £36 million, while BDP’s increased from £17.9 million to £28.6 million.

The chasing pack remained steady, with Foster + Partners and Archial again in third and fourth spot. However, the top 10 saw debuts from Capita Architecture, which climbed from 12th place to fifth, and PRP, which climbed from 11th position to ninth.

Practices which dropped out of the AJ100 this year include Ian Simpson Architects, ranked 74th last year, and NBBJ, 68th last year.

Speaking at the AJ100 last night in Canary Wharf, east London, Ken Livingstone, who was presented with the Greatest Contribution to the Profession, said ‘When we come out of the recession, I believe architects will be there, driving us forward. At the heart of cities that endure such as Paris and London, is a cultural and creative talent, and architecture is a key part of that.

‘The architects profession have chosen to honour me, so I honour them. It is not the oldest profession in the world, but it is right there in the second tranche.’

See the full AJ100 survey data

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