Another year goes by, and another architectural practice can hold its hands up to say it is the biggest around.
This time it is BDP International - the multi-disciplinary practice famous for a diverse range of buildings such as Wimbledon's Number 1 Court and the Royal Opera House - which has toppled Sheppard Robson from its perch. The company has added 26 new architects, which also makes it the second fastest-growing in terms of extra staff. All this while rivals such as Chapman Taylor lost 35 staff, Sheppard Robson lost 23, and most others showed only tentative signs of growth or contraction.
Gensler was an exception. The practice run by Tony Harbour is growing at an astonishing pace, employing 46 more staff during the year, a spurt of 66 per cent. Harbour says the outfit is good to work for, with regular parties and a large design portfolio which extends from airports to PFI courts to switch buildings - the new building type for the machines which power the web.
Another big mover is Capita Property Services, which appears to hoover up contracts for former local authority departments, most recently that of Cumbrian County Council's architecture division last month. The Cardiff-based outfit showed a two-thirds rise, while Wimberley Allison Tong & Goo grew by 75 per cent. Another good year of competition wins for John McAslan + Partners, such as the Welsh College of Music and Drama last month, saw it double in size to 20 qualified architects.
Show me the money Fees. Dosh. Wonga. These tables are, many argue, the most important of all in the AJ 100, and Foster and Partners is way out in front in the money stakes.
Almost £30 million came into its coffers last year. It has been another blockbuster 12 months, with projects such as the British Museum completing (controversially).Others, such as the Greater London Authority headquarters on the banks of the Thames and the similarly 'organic' Gateshead Music Theatre, will be next. But perhaps as important as the scale of the fees is the amount Fosters gets from each architect - more than £261,000 per head. But it is bettered by the practice run by Lord Foster's one-time colleague and political heavyweight, Lord Rogers of Riverside. The Richard Rogers Partnership made less than half in fees, with £12.8 million coming in, but per architect that worked out at £272,340. And architects at RTKL went one better than both peers' offices, squeezing fees of £290,500 per qualified architect.
But it is Gensler, again, which is the surprise package this year, adding more to its fee income bottom line than any other.
During the year in excess of £6 million more was banked, a spurt of 40 per cent in the right direction. Key projects included the competition-winning Calton Gate retail job in Edinburgh, and in the background is the £300 million 'doughnut' GCHQ project.
Gensler chief Tony Harbour claims the meteoric rise is down to a contented workforce, and therefore good work and contented clients coming back for more.
'We're getting unbelievable CVs from people who want to work here, ' he says. 'It's a great place to work and so different to other practices - we must be one of the only ones that pays overtime.We believe you should be paid more if you work over eight hours a day.'
Designs on women We know from the Cabinet Office that gender stereotypes persist in limiting career choices, pretty much across the board. And it's no different in architecture - RIBA president Marco Goldschmied is 'appalled' that in a country with a population made up of 53 per cent women, only 11 per cent of architects are female (in Singapore and Malaysia four in 10 architects are women).
He even cites cases he has heard of female interviewees being asked to promise not to become pregnant if offered a job. Is this borne out by the stats in our survey?
Enlightened practices with high percentages of women include RTKL (58 per cent), Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (49 per cent), Pollard Thomas and Edwards (45 per cent), Chapman Taylor (44 per cent), Pringle Brandon (41 per cent), Architects Design Partnership (41 per cent) and John McAslan and Partners (40 per cent). It is drastically different at Capita, Fitzroy Robinson, Fletcher Priest Architects, GHM Rock Townsend, ORMS Designers and Architects, and The Manser Practice, all of which have no women architects. RIBA president-elect Paul Hyett's firm, Ryder, has just 3 per cent.
On the right track The Architecture & Design Group reckons it will double its money by this time next year.
Impressive stuff from the King's Cross-based practice (part of Gibb). It made £380,000 in fees last year, so £760,000, it feels, is on the cards in 12 months' time. The reason? Principal John Harding says it's because the transport sector is really taking off. 'It's been a rapid growth over the past six months and I can see it continuing, ' he says. The period has brought in two 'substantial' transport schemes from London Underground Limited, one worth £600,000. LUL's modernisation and refurbishment work is continuing, and with the Transport White Paper and other investment in transport-related fields, the practice is well-placed. 'It's a good field to be in at the moment, 'Harding adds.
Babtie is clearly on the up and is a welcome new addition to the tables this year. The group, whose engineer Babtie Allott & Lomax picked up a major award from the Institution of Structural Engineers last month for the BA London Eye, is growing its architect quotient with 22 this year, 10 more than in 1999. It tops both the total income chart with £95 million and the fastest risers in total fee income table, having added 19 per cent to its finances, now at £15 million.
Rising stars Buoyant Allies and Morrison added most to its fee income in percentage terms over the year - a staggering 89 per cent - to arrive at a total of £2.9 million more in fees for the year. Others making significant advances included Camden-based Sidell Gibson Partnership, which added 58 per cent and total extra fees of £2.98 million, and Scott Brownrigg + Turner, which almost doubled its fee income total by adding £2.5 million.
Babtie again topped the lot, while Parsons Brinckerhoff, formerly PB Kennedy & Donkin, was the second fastest riser, notching £11.35 million more this year. In May it is scheduled to complete a £55 million hospital in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, near Giants' Causeway.
Scotland And so to Scotland. As with last year, all the top practices north of the border added to their teams in the year - an indication of a continued interest in architecture and a healthy economy.
Architectural consultant and AJ contributor Neil Baxter puts the boost down to political moves. As with Northern Ireland's peace dividend, he says, Scotland is enjoying an 'identity dividend' with a mini building boom coming as a direct result of Edinburgh's parliament plans and a knock-on effect on Glasgow. 'Scotland is discovering itself, ' Baxter says.
Keppie continued to grow and Comprehensive Design made a significant upward push, adding 13 architects - against just two the previous year.
Wales In the past decade, Wales has not had a proud record in architecture, reaching its nadir around the time of the ill-fated Cardiff Opera House competition. But signs are that that record may be improving, with two key new offerings: Foster and Partners' Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Middleton Hall, (AJ 14.9.00), and Perthcelyn Community School by Rhondda Cyon Taff Property Consultancy (AJ 6.4.00) As for the country's big players, positions for the top four in the table have not changed, with Percy Thomas Partnership continuing steady growth.
Business at PTP is very good, according to chief executive John Rudge, who aims to build on a series of major wins in the last 12 months and grow by as much as a quarter again next year.
In addition to the 'mainstay' of PFI projects won in 1999, there is a large range of new work in the system. There is housing at Penallta Colliery in Wales for the Pheonix Trust, and more for Edward Ware Developments in Bristol. Twelve hospitals are at different stages of development, two of which are 'traditional' as opposed to PFI - in Belfast and in Blackpool, both called Royal Victoria. Another £100 million scheme in Dudley was 'a major win' and there is also a £20 million oncology unit at City Hospital in Belfast.Add into the mix the scaled-down Wales Millennium Centre, chasing final grant money towards its £82 million cost, and two new schools in Hong Kong worth £25 million, and you get a seemingly very buoyant PTP. 'We're on the right track, ' says Rudge.
Capita has continued a more marked leap, adding 23 architects over the year, but Burgess Partnership and Holder Mathias Alcock both contracted, the fomer by just one, the latter losing four.
Northern Ireland A new table this year. Top of the list, with offices in Belfast and London, is Todd Architects, which grew during the past 12 months, as did the second largest outfit, Belfast's Robinson Patterson Partnership.
Last year's unpublished table was headed by Ostick & Williams with 13 qualified architects and Hall Black Douglas, with seven.
South West The South West's key building project this year and last was the fast-emerging Eden Project, highlighted in AJ last month (AJ 22.2.01). The area also had a new spokesman in local practitioner Brian Godfrey, who tried but failed to become the next president of the RIBA.
But Godfrey did not figure in the region's top names, nor, of course, did Eden's London-based Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners. The top South West firm accolade went to multi-disciplinary outfit WS Atkins, despite losing 18 architects during the year - a 10 per cent drop.
By contrast, Stride Treglown in second place added to its number by 12.5 per cent, continuing its upward trend last year when it took on six new architects. And, last April, it boosted its coffers by winning a limited competition to design a £10 million, four-storey office building for the DETR/HMCE (Her Majesty's Custom and Excise) at Temple Quay in Bristol.
The others in the top 10 continued gradual growth, except for ninth-placed Parsons Brinckerhoff, which reported one fewer architects on its books than last year.
The Midlands Nightingale Associates again came out top in the Midlands this year, with its main design area of healthcare contributing to its 11 per cent growth in architect numbers.
Last time out the practice had plumped for half that number - three architects - to handle its extra workload.
The company was established in 1989 and has offices in Harwell, Oxfordshire, London and Brighton. It describes its philosophy and the key to success as being 'the provision of a high level of service, no matter how large or small the project'. And it is clearly on the up. Turnover levels have risen steadily during the past five years: from £2.6 million in 1996; adding £500,000 in the following 12 months; £400,000 more in 1998; and reaching £4.1 million for 1999/2000.
The practice's Homerton Hospital scheme is one of four which was shortlisted by the NHS in its Building Better Healthcare awards last month. And, outside of the healthcare sector, Nightingale won a preservation award for its work on retail chain Jigsaw's Oxford store. All of which may have led to the firm making it as one of the most admired practices (see page 75).
The other names on the table show the by now familiar picture of a cautious, gradual growth, barring Pick Everard, which lost three qualified architects, and CPMG Architects, which remained static with 22.
The North East Abbey Holford Rowe continued the pattern of growth which it initiated last year through merging - it used to be known as Abbey Hanson Rowe.
After adding 47 qualified architects to its number through that merger route in time for last year's survey, it has continued to push for expansion and added 14 extra architects during the course of the past 12 months - a jump of nearly 16 per cent.
Newcastle-based Ryder, in second place, has also seemingly caught the merger habit, adding RIBA president-elect Paul Hyett's firm, Hyett Salisbury Whitely.
Having a president among its number would also, the Ryder partners considered on hearing Hyett's campaign plans, only be good for business in terms of exposure and links to London. Hyett, meanwhile, expected to benefit in terms of the larger firm's financial muscle in chasing projects, such as his South Bank tunnel idea.
The two entities merged last November, with Hyett becoming chairman and Ryder's Peter Buchan and Mark Thompson remaining directors. Ryder added seven architects, representing a 30 per cent growth for the outfit.
Other risers among the region's bigger names included third-placed Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson & Partners, adding four, and Bond Bryan, which made a significant leap of more than 50 per cent.
Less encouraging was Sheffield City Council, however, which shed 18 per cent of its team of architects.
The North West Ellis Williams Architects' director Dominic Williams says the practice is very busy, especially with its work on school buildings.
The firm, topping the table again in the North West this year, expanded only slightly, but all eyes will be on it in terms of press exposure next year. That is when its £46 million rejuvenation of the disused 1950s Baltic Flour Mills opens for business - part of a wider £250 million regeneration project for Gateshead including Wilkinson Eyre Architects' dramatic opening bridge. The team behind the new gallery on the banks of the Tyne has been working with a series of artists, including Julian Opie and Anish Kapoor.
Elswhere in the region, the Fairhursts Design Group and Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams contracted in terms of numbers, while staff levels at the other top 10 names stayed largely static.
How will we grow?
Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo has gazed into its crystal ball and seen the practice growing its UK business by 155 per cent.
Something of an advance into these shores, then, by the US-based practice.
Notting Hill-based John McAslan + Partners, meanwhile, is also having a fruitful period. It has just been told it can progress its work on the Volubilis project in Morocco after a fundraising evening attended by culture secretary Chris Smith. It is planning a doubling of architects, as is M3 Architects, which came up with plans for a massive, world-record-beating £450 million tower proposal for a site near Aldgate in London, backed by a US developer.
The scheme is one of a rash of tower proposals for London - others were from Nicholas Grimshaw, Richard Rogers Partnership and KPF, the last of which was called in for a public inquiry by environment chief John Prescott.
Scott Brownrigg + Turner is also making a notable jump. It reports that it will take on 34 more architects to add to its current quota of 56.
The big boys This table is compiled from firms' answers on how many staff they have in total, not just architects, and not just in the UK.
The global total staff category column on the right refers to workers including Part II people stationed outside the UK.
Not surprisingly, it is the multi-disciplinary practices which figure at the top end and the top three have a noticeably tiny proportion of architects. BDP International contrasts with Foster and Partners below it insofar as it has more than a third of its total staff outside these shores, against the latter's 3 per cent. Fosters did, however, add 81 to its staff numbers, while Abbey Holford Rowe greeted 125 more through the door. Aukett Associates, interestingly, has more staff abroad than in the UK.
On the home front It is all change in this particular table compared with last year, with the exception of Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, which scraped into joint eighth last time out, estimating it would bolster its ranks by a fifth. It is far more bullish this time.
It is worth noting that the percentages here are wildly more optimistic than last year's survey. The largest projection then was by MC Design Group for a 30 per cent climb; a figure that would not even have made the top 10 this time around.
World leaders HOK, which last year topped the global table with 860 qualified architects, thought it would take a dip of 10 per cent this year. In fact it added 15 staff.
The firm is clearly looking increasingly to the global picture. It chose the MIPIM property conference in Cannes last week to sign four 'ground-breaking' agreements with some of Europe's major practices, and dubbed the result the HOK European Network. Eight offices are included, among them London, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw and Amsterdam, creating strategic alliances with practices such as Arte Charpentier in Paris, Estudio Lamela in Madrid and Novoitny Mahner in Frankfurt.
HOK International managing director Ralph Courtenay said the move to instigate the network was in response to the multinational nature of its clients: 'From calling on the skills of 250 staff in London, Berlin and Warsaw, we have grown to a position of being able to offer 600 people on a panEuropean basis, ' he says.
As to the other practices, again the standout projection is Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, which feels that it will grow outside the UKby 139 per cent.