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How we established ourselves in the commercial sector

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Stuart Piercy on how he grew Piercy & Company from a three-strong practice in 2010 into a leader in the commercial sector

In 2010 I set up Piercy & Company after almost 10 years as one half of Piercy Conner Architects. I rented space within Price & Myers’ office with three Part 2 architects.

As others headed to the Middle East or pursued public sector work, we decided to focus on commercial architecture in London, believing the private sector in the capital would lead a UK recovery. 

We had secured one mixed-use scheme for the refurbishment of Turnmills nightclub in Clerkenwell with developer Derwent London, won after successfully delivering a small housing scheme for them. When the refurbishment scheme didn’t progress, we faced a nervous wait. 

The association with Derwent London definitely opened doors for us, but it wasn’t until Turnmill was finally coming out of the ground that we had something tangible to show, which made a huge difference in the way we were viewed.

We pulled together a list of ambitious developers, partly researched and partly recommended by friends in established practices. We set ourselves a target of presenting our work every two to three weeks, and kept each potential client updated with our progress on other schemes.

The schedule was relentless, but we built relationships with a number of leading developers which eventually led to our being shortlisted for potential work and projects for Argent, Helical Bar and Land Securities.

The pace of commercial work is demanding, and there is a steep learning curve getting to grips with the key aspects of speculative development.

Demonstrating the ability and capacity to deliver your design still remains the biggest hurdle in convincing even the most ambitious clients. Commercial work can be transformative – look at Angel Building – and it is an opportunity young practices should grasp.

From our original team of four in 2010 we have grown steadily to 25, and are currently looking for another five architects to join our studio in Camden.

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