CADA previously looked at the nominee’s for this year’s AJ120. Below, we have curated a list of last nights winners with a quick overview of why these practices won and what they have achieved in this last year.
For the fourth year running, Foster + Partners continue to keep their spot in the league table of Britain’s biggest architecture firms. Over the last year, Foster + Partners have opened the new Crossrail Place, Retail and Roof Garden in Canary Wharf, the new City Hall in Buenos Aires and the Yacht Club in Yekaterinburg.
Allies and Morrison were awarded on the basis of employee satisfaction, business growth, design quality, fees per architect and a presentation to the judging panel. The AJ120 stated: ‘In the end, it was Allies and Morrison’s blend of assured architecture and intelligent masterplanning (demonstrated by 8-10 Moorgate and Wood Wharf respectively) coupled with a supportive working culture that won over the judges.’
The annual award is given in recognition of the finest building completed by any of the UK’s top 100 practices during the past year. Katharine Heron described it as “a combination of ‘American brute force engineering and British design sophistication” With Jay Merrick adding: ‘The project is exemplary in people-moving, mixed-use, and streetscape terms. That a British practice achieved it is remarkable.’
A question mark hung over the repetitive nature of Architype’s buildings with its compact boxy forms for thermal efficiency. But Architype’s 2014 sustainable achievements made it a standout winner. The Judges said, ‘The practice’s relentless pursuit of pragmatic innovation and continual learning from past projects have enabled it to deliver what director Jonathan Hines terms ‘credible sustainability’ at no additional cost.’
In the running were three practices: Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Hopkins Architects. In the end, Hadid won by a whisker thanks to the success of projects such as the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, South Korea, as well as winning landmark projects such as the Japan National Stadium.
Hawkins\Brown are renowned for their quirky offices and their diverse workplace. Hawkins\Brown is piloting an 80/20 resource model borrowed from Google which encourages staff to work a four-day week on core project work and the remaining one day on other more innovative, creative or collaborative endeavours. One judge said, ‘They have a vision. They’re consciously
investing time and resource in developing expertise in other areas, not all of them traditional architectural hunting grounds.
Assael Architects have gained expertise in realising the full potential of complicated urban sites in sensitive locations. Their tenacious, analytical and contextual design approach in all sectors allows them to design homes that suit a range of tenures. One Judge said, ‘Assael has a very clear practice strategy that has delivered results in a competitive sector. They are clearly a practice on the up, being led by strong directors with a strategic focus on winning work in a new sector.’
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris took the top spot in a tightly fought category that saw Allies and Morrison and Stanton Williams sharing second place in the client vote. High-calibre schemes completed in 2014 include 240 Blackfriars Road for Great Portland Estates and phase one of the University of Amsterdam, which won the AJ Retrofit of the Year Award.
Key projects, 61 Oxford Street, for Dukelease Properties and BA Pensions Trust, Westminster Bridge Road for Urbanest and New Burlington Place for The Crown Estate are nearing completion.
The standout winner was Grimshaw’s work with light artist James Carpenter on the Fulton Center in New York. ‘At the heart of the project for the client Metropolitan Transportation Authority is a grand new civic atrium highlighted by an integrated artwork, Sky Reflector-Net. The artwork is a crucial component to the overall concept for the building, delivering light deep into the station. The judges said, ‘It is exactly the sort of collaboration you want. There is strength and authority here.’
Since 2014, the number of architects in the UK has increased 57 per cent from 51 to 80 and has seen the double Stirling Prize winner leap up the AJ120 league table from position 32 to 18. The firm, which also made the shortlist for Practice of the Year, has a healthy fees per UK architecture staff number too.
As the AJ states, The New Practice of the Year Prize was ‘awarded to the practice which entered the AJ120 for the first time in five years and judged on business success and quality of work, Grimshaw isn’t only back in the AJ120 – the heavy hitter is back in the top 10.’ With 97 architects in the UK and £36.4 million architectural fee income in 2014, the studio is in a healthy position. This has also means they are no.8 in the top paid Architecture practice in the UK.