BDP has returned to the top of the AJ100 – the definitive list of Britain’s biggest architecture firms – after only a year’s absence.
The global practice, which has taken first place in nine out of the last 10 years, stole the top spot from Atkins, which dropped 138 architects from the 381 it employed in 2008.
Atkins, which slipped into third place in the table behind Foster + Partners, blamed a new internal way of classifying architects who are ‘no longer practising’ or have changed discipline for the huge reduction in its qualified staff.
Although BDP shed around 51 staff, the practice still boasts 296 registered architects and secured £47 million of fees for UK-based work in 2009. It recently opened offices in Abu Dhabi and Delhi, and is understood to be working with Rafael Viñoly on the £1 billion leisure development next
to Manchester City Football Club.
BDP chief executive Peter Drummond (pictured) said: ‘We have come through [the recession] more unscathed than we thought we would – so far. With the banking crisis in 2008 we expected more of a cliff-edge drop, but that hasn’t happened.
‘This is due to the diversity in projects and the strategic decision we made eight years ago to get into education and health. As for the future, it is impossible to predict,’ added Drummond.
Of the top 10 practices, only Aedas and Austin-Smith:Lord increased their staff numbers, while BFLS (formerly Hamiltons) fell 29 places to 36, having lost practice founder Tim Hamilton and director Robin Partington late last year.
Among newcomers to the AJ100 are Scottish firm Page/Park Architects and Reiach and Hall, which both squeezed in at joint 93rd place.
The AJ, together with Imperial College London, has compiled in depth analysis of this year’s AJ100 survey which includes invaluable data on fees, salaries and workload.