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ARCHITECTURE GIANTS: Innovations from 51 top design firms

Check out what these 50 design firms are doing to stay ahead of the pack.

July 26, 2016 |

Perkins Eastman was the architect for the new headquarters of the AIGA, the professional association for design, in 17th floor of the Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, New York. The building, designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1913, was once the tallest building in the world (792 feet). Photo: James Ewing/Otto.

A quick rundown of architecture and A/E firm innovations this year:

Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture  Implemented VR into its standard design and visualization plan; using Grasshopper and Dynamo to create more robust Revit-to-Rhino interoperability.

Architects Hawaii Limited  Created the AHL Wahine Collaborative, a forum where female employees can share “talk stories” to create a “workplace of trust for women.”

Architecture Design Collaborative  Perfected the firm’s on-site communication and collaboration tool, Mobile Design Studio.

Array Architects  Delivering data-based support to healthcare systems for real estate and construction decision making.

Ashley McGraw Architects  Shifted energy modeling responsibility from dedicated modelers to multiple designers on staff.

Ballinger  Conducting research on the benefits of “convergent environments” at academic labs the firm has designed; most recently, Rutgers University Institute for Food, Nutrition & Health.


2015 Architecture Revenue ($)
1. Gensler $1,180,550,000
2. Perkins+Will $484,240,000
3. HKS    $363,803,828
4. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates* $224,000,000
5. Perkins Eastman $195,000,000
6. Corgan $160,100,000
7. NBBJ $154,000,000
8. ZGF Architects $153,846,347
9. Populous $137,885,943
10. HMC Architects $71,204,368




2015 Arch/Eng Revenue ($)
1. Stantec $579,413,704
2. HOK $450,824,000
3. CallisonRTKL $405,559,000
4. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill $352,332,272
5. HDR $314,800,000
6. SmithGroupJJR $222,085,339
7. CannonDesign $218,000,000
8. DLR Group $158,000,000
9. EYP $149,595,604
10. HGA    $142,750,000



BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers  Implementing its “Bridge” design concept to link K-12 schools to surrounding communities via facilities like adult learning centers.

Bergmann Associates  Got FAA exemption to fly drones for aerial data collection.

CannonDesign  Pushing its Design-Led Construction approach to bring architecture, engineering, and construction under one roof through the life of the project.

Carrier Johnson + CULTURE  Hiring architects and designers from China, Mexico, and Iran; helping them obtain H-1B visas.

Clark Nexsen  Producing videos with a mix of real and rendered content for enhanced client presentations.

Convergence Design  Designing indoor competitive sports venues for tourism and economic development.

Cuningham Group  Partnering with the University of Minnesota, the College of Education, and a local school district on multi-year research to assess three retrofitted open learning studios designed by the firm.

• DGA planning | architecture | interiors  Developed reconfigurable ophthalmology clinic for buildout of Verily HQ (formerly Google Life Sciences) and new ORs for Stanford Healthcare that use 4K surgical capture for orthopedic procedures.

• Diamond Schmitt Architects  Created “ecoMetrics” interactive visual database of energy simulation models for >40 LEED projects  vs. multiple energy benchmarking systems.

• Ewing Cole  “Client Feedback Tool” monitors client perceptions during design via short email surveys; has cut client-identified problems by 83%.

GBBN Architects  Conducting research on “psychosocial triggers to wellness,” using a case study of a GBBN project in China.

Gensler Drove firm-wide innovation with an expanded internal research grant program supporting over 170 cutting-edge innovation topics across Gensler’s global platform. Implemented VR/AR and Mixed Reality into standard design and visualization processes firm-wide.

GreenbergFarrow  Migrating email, project files, marketing, HR, and accounting processes to the cloud.

GRW  Implemented strategic marketing plan based on niche markets, greater use of BIM.

Highland Associates   Putting greater focus on design-build projects.

HMC Architects  Completed firmwide rewrite of its mission statement.

HOK  AIA 2030 Commitment on track to achieve 80% improvement over CBECS 2030 baseline by 2021.

Jencen Architecture  Updating its website (www.jencen.com) with news, blog.

Kirksey Architecture  Expanded ownership to 26 vice presidents.

KSQ Design  Created KSQU to encourage mentorship between senior staff and young professionals in leadership skills, etc.

Legat Architects  Developed West Loop Innovation Lab as part of Chicago Artists Month; assisted ACUPCC university clients with climate action planning via Second Nature.

Lord Aeck Sargent  Adding manufacturer product information to the firm’s Material Transparency Initiative.

LPA, Inc.  Developed firmwide sustainable scorecard for all projects to benchmark projects against the firm’s goals and similar project types. Also created project report card, which reviews projects on their sustainability quotient and other metrics.

Margulies Perruzzi Architects  Promoted Jason B. Costello, AIA, EDAC, LEED AP, to Partner to head new healthcare studio.

Mascari Warner Architects  Provides clients and prospects with visioning, key words, and inspirational/architectural images as part of the firm’s Concept Driven Design program.

MEIS Architects  New offices in Los Angeles and New York; next up: London.

Moody Nolan  Pushing use of 3D animation and virtual environment technology.

MV+A Architects  Created digital newsletter, Design Brief; 909 subscribers.

NewStudio Architecture  Converted entire office to BIM for all project phases.

Payette  Using parametric modeling and custom-designed solar shading analysis software for energy modeling directly into the BIM model and assembly fabrication.

Perkins+Will  Expanded its Energy Lab to conduct research with academics and other outside experts in 10 areas. More info: http://Researchlabs.perkinswill.com.

Robert A.M. Stern Architects  Launched new website: www.ramsa.com.

Sargenti Architects  Revamping client on-boarding process to give clients greater role in selecting architectural team leaders.

SchraderGroup architecture Senior staff teaching younger staff how to put buildings together; younger staff teaching senior staff how to use BIM, other software.

Shepley Bulfinch  Successful rollout of VR technology capabilities to selected healthcare  and university clients.

Sherlock, Smith & Adams  Launched new website: www.ssainc.com.

SmithGroupJJR  Elected a new, three-member management team: Mike Medici, Russell Sykes, and Troy Thompson.

Ted Moudis Associates   Added staff to the firm’s Workplace Strategies team.

TEG Architects  Using VR during design development to elicit client feedback.

TK Architects International  Formed partnership with Bardan Cinema to design cinemas in Latin America, the Caribbean.

Tsoi/Kobus & Associates  More use of Oculus VR and 360 video tours for clients.

Vocon  Helping clients reevaluate their real estate portfolios to optimize space utilization and provide workplace design features that attract and retain talent.

Ware Malcomb  Provided WELL Building Standard services (Gold level) to Vesta, a provider of industrial/distribution facilities, for the firm’s new corporate HQ in Mexico City.

Westlake Reed Leskosky  Patent application pending for transitioning solar electrical to low-voltage LEDs and outlets directly.

Wright Heerema Architects  Using Web-based software to organize and store project documents, give project members immediate access to current docs.


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