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AJ 100

01 / BDP INTERNATIONAL Last year: 01 Number of architects: 281 Female architects: 22% The gap is growing. BDP's astonishing run of form at the head of architecture's top table is once again unchallenged. The only difference this year is that the perennial number one is pulling away. In the last 12 months, the Building Design Partnership has recruited an extraordinary 40 more architects. This in a year in which the seemingly endless stream of public-sector work has begun to slow down. One could have predicted that the government's well-publicised moratorium on health PFI schemes might have damaged BDP's fortunes, but not so.

The secret? According to chairman Nick Terry it lies in both a successful diversification strategy and, wait for the soundbite, 'designing a good practice structure'. There you have it.

02 / AEDAS Last year: 04 Number of architects: 190 Female architects: 23% A busy year for Aedas, which has edged into second place.

The international figures (see page 86) do not take account of the recent coming together with New York practice Davis Brody Bond, which was announced at MIPIM this year and represents Aedas' first US venture. Last year the practice opened offices in Dubai, Kazakhstan, India and China. It also launched a new operation in Warsaw to service clients in Central and Eastern Europe. Aedas employs more than 1,350 staff in 21 offices in the UK, Central and Eastern Europe, North America and the Middle East and Asia.

=03 / FOSTER AND PARTNERS Last year: 03 Number of architects: 175 Female architects: 24% The architectural Goliath had a mixed year, which kicked off with its 2004 losses being widely reported. But after a spate of new commissions - including a revamp of New Holland Island in St Petersburg - the high-profile practice has surged back into the black. Recent award-winning projects, such as the Swiss Re headquarters at 30 St Mary Axe, the Millau Viaduct, the McLaren Technology Centre - with its Stirling Prize nomination - the Sage Gateshead and Hearst Tower in New York, have enjoyed acclaim, while future projects, such as Beijing Airport, have also received praise.

Lately, its operations have been streamlined by a change in internal structure, with six design groups formed to take over day-to-day project operations. This will, no doubt, make the practice's rise to global domination even more efficient.

=03 / NIGHTINGALE ASSOCIATES Last year: 06 Number of architects: 175 Female architects: 34% The Oxford-based practice just keeps on growing. Known for its healthcare work, it is also expanding into the education and science fields.

Along the way it has teamed up with Make Architects on a top-secret research building for Oxford University. Other schemes include the Clinical Education Centre for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Keele University, one of the pilot schemes for ProCure 21, as well as the recently completed Blue Coat School in Liverpool. Meanwhile, Nightingale's South Africa studio is concentrating on new projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

05 / CAPITA PERCY THOMAS Last year: 07 Number of architects: 172 Female architects: 12% Capita Percy Thomas exemplifies the process of growth under way in the UK architecture scene.

In the past year, the Cardiff-based design offshoot of outsourcing giant Capita has taken on 30 architects. It has bought both Norman and Dawbarn and the Birmingham branch of architectural practice Church Lukas, and there are more purchases on the horizon. Among its projects, is completion of Grimshaw's problematic Bath Spa.

=06 / ATKINS Last year: 02 Number of architects: 167 Female architects: 14% Atkins has continued its global expansion, with many of its landmark buildings across the world starting to take shape. Its Durrat Al Bahrain residential and leisure resort - a sustainable seaside community - has started on site, and the practice has unveiled designs for the Bahrain World Trade Centre. In the UK, its 'floating cloud' designs were also deemed the favourite for London's new Lea Square scheme - a 17,000m 2 mixed-use development on the fringes of the Olympic Park.

=06 / HOK/HOK SPORT Last year: 05 Number of architects: 167 Female architects: 25% HOK International and its sister practice, the catchily named HOK Sport + Event + Venue, have had a steady year - no mean achievement considering the two highest profile schemes associated with the practices are Wembley Stadium, which they are working on with Norman Foster, and the ever-contentious Barts and the Royal London PFI scheme in Whitechapel. With Barts finally winning the go-ahead last month and Wembley set to complete sometime soon, expect the next year to be a little calmer for HOK.

08 / PRP Last year: 08 Number of architects: 130 Female architects: 31% PRP's St Matthew's key-worker housing scheme in Lambeth, is the first PRPZed venture with green guru Bill Dunster. This will not be zero carbon, but will have virtually zero heating, says PRP chairman Barry Munday. He is also excited about the low-cost compact housing the practice is pioneering in Notting Hill, West London, for people on modest incomes. This will be prefabricated.

Other major work includes the refit of Wembley Arena.

09 / BENOY Last year: 21 Number of architects: 117 Female architects: 18% Benoy has powered up the charts thanks to an aggressive move into India, the Far East and the United Arab Emirates. The retail specialist is designing a 50,000m 2 signature scheme, known as Saket Courtyard, for one of India's foremost developers, DLF. On the strength of further business wins, it plans to open a dedicated New Delhi office.

Benoy executive director Nick Lamb says: 'Overseas assignments currently represent 20 per cent of workload. This will increase by 10 per cent in 2006.' The Chinese operation continues to soar, contributing to a 50 per cent hike in Benoy's group-wide turnover.

10 / BROADWAY MALYAN Last year: 11 Number of architects: 108 Female architects: 23% Perennial performer Broadway Malyan has increased the size of its practice by six architects, but experienced a drop of one place.

It has some fascinating projects on its communal drawing board, however. Most significantly, there's the Fourth Grace Mann Island scheme in Liverpool. Nestling behind the site of 3XN's troubled Liverpool Museum project, the mixed-use development - the most direct replacement for Alsop's 'Cloud' - is garnering high levels of local support for what could be a hugely controversial undertaking.

11 / SHEPPARD ROBSON Last year: 13 Number of architects: 101 Female architects: 25% In March the practice's three most senior directors agreed to take early retirement and hand over control of the business to two of the -rm's youngest partners - Tim Evans and Malcolm McGowan. Work by the practice's offices in London and Manchester includes Liverpool's School of Tropical Medicine's new Centre for Tropical and Infectious Diseases and taking over the BBC Broadcasting House project.

12 / REID ARCHITECTURE Last year: 09 Number of architects: 100 Female architects: 20% A small slip this year for Reid, which has offices in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as Spain and Australia. The firm's workload continues to be dominated by large mixed-use developments and aviation projects. Among the many overseas airports in the pipeline is a new terminal in Antigua, West Indies, which should be open in time for the Cricket World Cup in 2007. Despite the loss of four architects during the last 12 months, the practice has seen growth in both its residential and healthcare work.

13 / LLEWELYN DAVIES YEANG Last year: 12 Number of architects: 95 Female architects: 26% Eco-superstar Ken Yeang's arrival at commercial giant Llewelyn Davies led to a name change and a wave of new work around the globe. The scheme that grabbed the most headlines was the practice's appointment as masterplanner for Najaf in Iraq.

Others include an ecological masterplan for Lakeside and West Thurrock in the Thames Gateway. With sister offices in the US and Malaysia, the practice has more than 500 staff worldwide.

14 / ALLIES AND MORRISON Last year: =14 Number of architects: 90 Female architects: 30% Allies and Morrison has had a busy year.

Its masterplan for Argent at King's Cross - where it joined forces with Demetri Porphyrios - was approved in March; its 'Three Sisters' tower design won a commission from P&O in Waterloo; and its masterplan for the Olympic Park has undergone some subtle changes too.

The practice also took on the task of working with Zaha Hadid to design the Architecture Foundation.

15 / CHAPMAN TAYLOR Last year: 19 Number of architects: 76 Female architects: 21% Despite the practice's determination to paint a different picture, Chapman Taylor is still most often associated with retail. While there is a smattering of other mixed-use schemes, the bulk of the practice's work comes from shopping centres. But that does not mean that all the projects are alike. For instance, Chapman Taylor is working on a vast neo-Georgian development in the heart of Bath.

16 / AUSTIN-SMITH: LORD Last year: =24 Number of architects: 74 Female architects: 16% A jump of eight places reects a busy year for Austin-Smith: Lord. Planning consent has been awarded for a 13-storey commercial building for Argent Estates opposite Manchester's Piccadilly Station.

The practice is also working as executive architect on the £10 million redevelopment of the historic Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool, conceived by Rotterdam-based BIQ Architecten working with Donald Insall Associates.

17 / JM ARCHITECTS Last year: =26 Number of architects: 73 Female architects: 25% A good year for this Edinburgh-based practice, marked by the acquisition of Wheeler & Sproson Architects.

Turnover has been boosted by a number of ventures into masterplanning and commercial and residential design, including a £20 million housing development at Bowness, Scotland, and City Square, Liverpool - a £20 million office complex completed in December 2005.

18 / AUKETT FITZROY ROBINSON Last year: =16 Number of architects: 72 Female architects: 14% The practice has been busy trimming the fat since the merger last year between Aukett and Fitzroy Robinson, with the result that it has posted some of its best trading figures for years. As well as selling its Dutch arm - officially called GroupA Aukett - the practice has closed its Glasgow office. Meanwhile, the business has formed a joint venture with Barcelona-based Alonso Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados and has plans to open a third British office.

=19 / CHETWOODS Last year: 18 Number of architects: 70 Female architects: 21% Chetwoods' sustainable design for a 174-unit social housing scheme in Southampton picked up a Building for Life Gold Award. The practice was also awarded the Industrial/R&D Architect of the Year and Challenging Regeneration Project of the Year awards. Director Laurie Chetwood is developing 'an exciting new concept for inner cities' called Urban Oasis, the first of which will be launched in June this year.

=19 / RMJM Last year: =14 Number of architects: 70 Female architects: 19% In the fallout from the controversial Scottish Parliament, a number of key figures left the firm, including chief executive Brian Stewart and six other senior staff members. The practice has continued to land work overseas, including schemes in Russia, India and Qatar. In addition RMJM, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is the only British architect designing a building for the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

21 / RHWL ARCHITECTS Last year: =16 Number of architects: 68 Female architects: 29% RHWL's performance dipped slightly this year, after the practice lost four architects. Despite this, high-profile projects included completion of the Royal Bank of Scotland Headquarters in Edinburgh, and design of a 214-room hotel for Mountgrange, also in the Scottish capital. Despite a fall-off in lottery funding for the arts team, the specialist architects are still busy in London with Cameron Mackintosh, while projects for Newcastle's Northern Stage and an extension to Belfast's Grand Opera are both due for completion.

22 / KEPPIE DESIGN Last year: 20 Number of architects: 66 Female architects: 23% What better way of showing off your work than getting your projects printed on bank notes? Take a look at the Scottish £20 notes issued by the Clydesdale Bank and you'll see Keppie's new £30 million Exchange development in Glasgow. This currency coup was just one of the highlights for Keppie Design, whose offices in Inverness, Belfast and Manchester have expanded. Schemes completed in the last year include the Admiral Park offi ce development in Guernsey and the new OKI production facility at Cumbernauld.

=23 / KPF Last year: 37 Number of architects: 65 Female architects: 31% This year KPF has cemented its international reputation, with commissions in Amsterdam, Paris, Milan and London. In London, the architect increased the height of its Heron Tower, and narrowly missed out on a further tower scheme in London's Waterloo. And the practice won the high-profile backing of CABE for its 'Helter Skelter', in the City, for foreign-owned investor DIFA, to cement its client-attracting reputation as a creator of icons.

=23 / STRIDE TREGLOWN Last year: 22 Number of architects: 65 Female architects: 18% It has been a consolidating year for Stride Treglown, with a couple more architects but a one-place drop in the charts. The practice has put its house in order: developing its internal systems; achieving Investors in People status; strengthening its student mentoring scheme; and gaining ISO 14001 environmental accreditation. An EcoHomes Excellent scheme in Somerset was recently completed by the firm. An offi ce in Manchester is also being established.

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