Maybe it was too good to be true. For five consecutive months starting last December, the AIA’s Architectural Billings Index, a leading indicator of construction activity, was showing hopeful numbers about future architectural billings.
Then—wham!—the May ABI score came in at a measly 45.8, reflecting “a sharp decrease in demand for design services,” as the AIA put it. (Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.) And while the “new projects inquiry index” registered a promising 54.0, that was not enough to dispel the notion that architecture firms are going to have to keep scratching for every dollar.
“We see another global slowdown, with great downward pressure on fees,” said Ralph Hawkins, FAIA, LEED AP, Chair/CEO of HKS Architecture. “We are continuing to adapt to the economy with both our geographic and market sectors.” To that end, the firm recently opened offices in New Delhi and Singapore, having already expanded into Europe, China, the Middle East, North Africa, and India.
SCROLL DOWN FOR GIANTS 300 ARCHITECTURE & A/E FIRM RANKINGS
“Adapting” is what many Giants 300 architecture firms are being forced to do. With domestic billings down, Giants are setting up shop overseas, merging and forming joint ventures to make one plus one equal three, and creating new services.
NEXT STOP, SOMEPLACE EXOTIC
For Goettsch Partners, work outside the U.S. and Canada “accounts for 80% of our business,” says James Goettsch, FAIA, President. The firm just opened a new office in Abu Dhabi’s Sowwah Square and is active in more than 20 cities in China.
“We’ve been winning work internationally for the last 10 years,” says Guy Geier, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED AP, Managing Partner, FXFOWLE. “Currently, we have projects in design or construction all over the world, including Montreal, Istanbul, Riyadh, Mumbai, and Baku, Azerbaijan.”
Perkins Eastman recently converted its small Mumbai shop into a full-service operation. Coming soon: a permanent office in Hanoi. “We do work in 25 countries at any given time, and overseas revenues constitute up to 30% of our net billings,” says Chair/CEO Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP. International clients provide professional opportunities that are rare in the U.S. and Canada. “The skills we have gained on large, fast-paced, and complex international assignments have been invaluable in strengthening our North American practice,” he says.
Nadel Architects, with many years of experience in China and the Middle East, recently expanded work in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, says Greg Lyon, Vice President/Director of Business Development.
“Global work is growing in importance for our firm,” said Phil Harrison, FAIA, LEED AP, CEO of Perkins+Will. “We significantly expanded our U.K. and Dubai operations with the addition of Pringle Brandon. We are likewise pursuing growth opportunities in South America and Asia.”
This year, LEO A DALY opened an office in Riyadh; another is in the works in Doha, Qatar. The firm has offices in Beijing, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, and Hong Kong.
Populous, a creator of stadia and event venues, has operated globally for nearly 30 years. “As events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games begin to infiltrate into atypical areas of the world like the Middle East, we are seeing the potential for work,” says Earl Santee, AIA, Senior Principal.
MORE DOMESTIC OFFICES, MERGERS, NEW HIRES
In the past 18 months Perkins+Will acquired three practices, expanding its operations in the province of Ontario (Toronto, Ottawa, and Dundas), Seattle, London, and Dubai. The Boston office hired Robert Brown, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, as Managing Director and Brian Healy, AIA, as Design Director.
Early this year, FXFOWLE formed a joint venture with CO Architects, combining FXFOWLE’s strength in urban planning, infrastructure, commercial, cultural, and education projects with CO Architects’ experience in healthcare and science and technology. The JV’s name: CO|FXFOWLE.
In late June, NELSON agreed to merge its Chicago/Midwest region operations with Torchia Associates, an architecture/interior design firm.
This year, Shepley Bulfinch opened an office, its third, in San Francisco, with Peter Schlosser, AIA, leading as Principal. Mario Vieira, AIA, was also hired as Principal in the Boston office.
Flad Architects unfurled its flag in New York City, as did EwingCole. Mark Hebden, AIA, LEED AP, EwingCole’s President, says the firm is “reevaluating and refining its service offerings, process, and deliverables to align with client business and leadership challenges.” The firm hired Steve McDaniel as Director of Science and Technology.
HKS established beachheads in Chicago, Indianapolis, San Diego, and New York. The firm continues to expand into S&T and urban design.
Cannon Design recently acquired Peter Ellis New Cities, an urban planning and design group based in Chicago and New Delhi. Peter Ellis now leads Cannon Design’s urban planning and city design practice.
Other major hires in the last year:
• Kenneth Drake, AIA, NCARB, to EYP Architecture and Engineering as Senior S&T Project Executive.
• John Whitaker, AIA, DBIA, to HKS as Principal of its federal market sector and design-build practices, and Rick Bond, AIA, FHFI, as Federal Healthcare Strategy Leader.
• Dan Viscardi, to LEO A DALY as Corporate Director of the firm’s aviation program, and Archie Aamoth as Corporate Director of the healthcare program.
• Mark Chen, to Heery International as Director of Design.
NEW CLIENT SERVICES
Perkins+Will has formed a joint venture with Construction Specialties for a building products labeling system. The firm is expanding its sustainability advisory services and combining many services into a single offering. “Speed of delivery, innovative technology, advanced sustainable design practices, integrated design services, and extreme collaboration are all defining our work,” says P+W’s Harrison.
Populous introduced a new design service, Populous Activate, to enhance the in-stadium experience. The goal: optimize sponsor partnerships while meeting visitor needs and desires, says Populous’s Santee.
Cannon Design’s products group has invented the eVap series of heat exchange/cooling units, which separates water used in laboratories from the poorer quality water of the main building’s cooling system.
SmithGroupJJR developed WorkSIM—programming software that connects to Revit and produces 3D programmatic space models and room databases.
In short, a frantic year for architecture firms, with relief in sight. +
|Rank||Company||2011 Total Revenue ($)|
|4||Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates||143,880,000|
|26||Swanke Hayden Connell Architects||30,500,000|
|27||Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott||29,800,000|
|28||Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners||29,700,000|
|29||Solomon Cordwell Buenz||29,610,000|
|35||FRCH Design Worldwide||24,100,000|
|41||Jerde Partnership, The||22,500,000|
|42||Cuningham Group Architecture||22,134,253|
|44||Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates||21,642,757|
|46||Niles Bolton Associates||19,830,000|
|47||Good Fulton & Farrell||19,581,000|
|52||Lee, Burkhart, Liu||17,200,000|
|53||Ziegler Cooper Architects||17,054,105|
|57||Hnedak Bobo Group||15,889,341|
|61||Wight & Company||13,370,900|
|62||Lord, Aeck & Sargent||12,150,916|
|63||Carrier Johnson + CULTURE||11,699,266|
|64||Anderson Mikos Architects||11,393,000|
|68||Ashley McGraw Architects||9,500,000|
|70||SEI Design Group||7,986,000|
|72||H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture||6,700,000|
|73||Massa Montalto Architects||6,224,932|
|76||Adache Group Architects||4,500,000|
|80||AXIS Architecture + Design||1,370,000|
|Rank||Company||2011 Total Revenue ($)|
|3||Skidmore, Owings & Merrill||255,000,000|
|9||LEO A DALY||132,483,964|
|10||Hammel, Green and Abrahamson||127,900,000|
|13||EYP Architecture & Engineering||72,681,105|
|17||Gresham, Smith and Partners||54,245,261|
|22||CTA Architects Engineers||44,316,300|
|24||Reynolds, Smith and Hills||42,000,000|
|27||S/L/A/M Collaborative, The||39,475,964|
|32||Harley Ellis Devereaux||33,660,000|
|33||Fanning Howey Associates||29,880,000|
|35||Albert Kahn Family of Companies||27,200,000|
|36||SMMA|Symmes Maini & McKee Associates||25,335,391|
|37||Westlake Reed Leskosky||25,000,000|
|38||Tetra Tech Architects & Engineers||21,536,000|
|44||Sherlock, Smith & Adams||15,400,000|
|45||CASCO Diversified Corp.||15,000,000|
|46||Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber||14,900,000|
|50||Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee||11,498,000|
|51||Integrated Design Group||11,436,000|
|54||TEG – The Estopinal Group||9,081,012|
|55||BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers||8,100,000|
|57||Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio||4,200,000|