‘There is a fantastic supportive atmosphere. Everyone is very positive and does great work, with each project approached from first principles. The biggest motivator is great work.’
May 2011 has been momentous for Hawkins\Brown, bringing with it the opening of the game-changing Corby Cube – described by Roger Hawkins as ‘a new paradigm for civic buildings in an age of austerity’ (AJ 05.05.11) – and the coveted AJ100 Practice of the Year award, given for all-round performance based on business and design output.
By adding just three architects since 2010, Hawkins\Brown has crept five places up the AJ100 table. This modest but noteworthy growth is apt for a quietly successful practice with its consistent high-quality design, strong AJ100 survey results, and the enthusiasm with which its staff responded to the confidential employee survey.
Of 45 respondents, 30 were very satisfied with the working conditions and environment, all 45 were proud of the practice’s work (21 were ‘very proud’), and all were optimistic about their career prospects. Roger Hawkins characterises the atmosphere behind this as being ‘more than free pizza when we work late!’ He says: ‘There is a fantastic supportive atmosphere. Everyone is very positive and does great work, with each project approached from first principles. The biggest motivator is great work.’
Hawkins\Brown is one of only two AJ100 practices whose team of architects comprises more women than men; 52 per cent of the team is female – a figure that increased this year. The practice punches well above its weight for fees generated per qualified architect working in the UK on UK jobs – £152,173.91, well above the median of £127,321.74. It can also take pride in its green credentials, having won ISO 14001:2004 certification.
Aware of the difficulties in its usual markets, Hawkins\Brown remains positive: ‘There are always opportunities for business development… we must remain determined and optimistic.’
The past year has seen growth for Hawkins\Brown across a broad range of sectors. Projects vary from a £100,000 doctor’s surgery extension to the £1 billion development of Tottenham Court Road Station.
The London-based multidisciplinary team continues to work on a variety of high-profile schemes, such as housing-led regeneration projects at Park Hill, Sheffield; the Peabody Estate, Clapham, London; and educational buildings for universities in Oxford, Kingston, Coventry, Salford and Westminster. Corby Cube (AJ 05.05.11), a civic centre in Northamptonshire, has recently been completed.
The practice says: ‘With cuts to public spending and the decrease in (and, in many cases, the abolition of) funding in education, housing, the public sector and the arts, it will be another difficult year for architects who work in these sectors.’ Having been shortlisted for new arts and cultural buildings Hawkins\Brown is increasingly looking at opportunities overseas.
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Foster + Partners