Abbey Holford Rowe has bucked the trend for architects tightening their belts and making redundancies by going in the other direction - taking over the architectural department of a major quantity surveyor.
The practice has taken over the architecture wing of EC Harris, with a team of six transferring to AHR's Manchester office, with which it had worked closely on a number of projects. There they will augment the firm's education department, run by partner Brian Johnson.
'We're very successful in PFI education projects and we were looking to expand our resources and expertise, ' said Johnson. 'So we entered into negotiations with EC Harris and put in an offer. They are a perfect fit for us in terms of their experience and size and we are already reaping the benefits.'
Those benefits include another schools PFI scheme coming to the office - the Hattersley Schools project, which comprises two primary schools, two nursery units and a new 1,000-place high school. It is worth about £24 million. And Johnson said the Manchester office will continue to expand, with schemes such as another major PFI schools scheme in east Leek, Staffordshire, and a traditionally-procured £13 million job in Blackburn, Lancashire, for a 1,500-place school.
The new staff bring the group's personnel up to about 400 in total, 90 of which make up the Manchester office. 'It's very strong growth and we see Manchester continue to grow.'
Abbey Holford Rowe is still pressing ahead with its plans to merge again with a secret major outfit, thought to be based in Australasia (AJ 29.3.01), but this has taken longer than expected. The company could be in a position to launch its new look at next year's MIPIM property conference in Cannes in March. It merged Abbey Hanson Rowe and Holford Associates in April 1999.