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Innovation at 72 design firms

The following is a list of advancements architecture and A/E firms underwent in 2016, as reported in Building Design+Construction's 2017 Giants 300 Report.

August 09, 2017 |
Rick Nelson, Senior Associate at MBH Architects, Alameda, Calif., demonstrates the proper installation of materials to MBH professionals

Rick Nelson, Senior Associate at MBH Architects, Alameda, Calif., demonstrates the proper installation of materials to MBH professionals as part of the firm‘s “Hands On University” field training program. Courtesy MBH Architects.

Where architecture and A/E firms broke new ground in ’16 (as reported in Building Design+Construction's 2017 Giants 300 Report):

Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Using HadCM3 weather files to simulate building performance against climate change and stormwater scenarios.

AHL Created “Pedal Parc” from recycled materials; people can pedal stationary bikes to charge their smartphones.

api(+) New focus: food retailing and food service markets.

Array Architects Three-day Lean training for staff.

Architecture Design Collaborative Mobile Design Studio enables on-site conceptual design for multifamily projects anywhere in the U.S. in <48 hours.

Ballinger Greater emphasis on convergent facilities (e.g., academic labs) to foster collaborative interdisciplinary learning.

BWBR Launched “Human-Centered Safety” to address safety needs of patients and staff at behavioral health centers.

CallisonRTKL Two inventions: a variable-insulation green roof with insulated ceiling and sensor-operated fan that regulates the interior environment in relation to the green roof’s mass; and a green roof cooling system with embedded pipes that is cooled by irrigation.

Cambridge Seven Associates Adopted Deltek Vision to integrate project management with accounting and staffing.

Carrier Johnson + CULTURE Brought new services in-house: construction management, landscape architecture, healthcare design, forensic architecture, and K-12 education.

CASCO Diversified Corporation Targeting high-end retail and restaurant work via acquisition of R5 Design Agency.

Cordogan Clark & Associates Pioneering offsite prefabricated “systems buildings” (structure, floors, walls) using recyclable materials.

Core States Group Specializing in IPD for architecture, engineering, construction management, construction services, program management, development services.

Cortland Partners Outfitted 60-foot Mobile Training Unit—custom-designed learning space, specialty training stations, and video room—to bring hands-on training to staff in nine states.

CSArch Installed new intranet for better internal communications.

Cuningham Group Architecture Established a Research Council to sponsor client- and project-focused R&D leading to improved designs and services.

Dattner Architects Encouraging WELL AP and Passive House certifications for designers. Hosted several day-long workshops on passive house design.

DGA Creating “translational medicine” facilities, where cell/gene therapy helps create new medical treatments.



SEE ALSO: Top 115 Architecture Firms

Top 100 Architecture/Engineering Firms



E4H Architecture Merged three firms to create a single healthcare-only architecture firm. Implemented Smart Facility Design process, using proprietary software.

EwingCole Moved to three-person leadership team: Jared Loos, Robert McConnell, AIA, and Keith Fallon, RA.

Francis Cauffman Created an internal model for delivery process, from go/no-go to post-occupancy follow-up.

FXFOWLE Published research that showed the viability of using the Passivhaus standard on high-rise residential buildings in New York City.

GBBN Architects Established “EDGE” galleries at its four locations to stimulate fertile, creative thought across distinct realms.

GreenbergFarrow Added structural engineering capability; expanding landscape architecture services.

GWWO Using video game engines to make BIM models more accessible to users.

Harley Ellis Devereaux Implementing Lean design principles and new visualization tools into workflow.

Harvard Jolly Using Autodesk BIM 360 Glue to spot potential construction errors.

HDR Two new computational design tools: Rapid Energy Performance Simulator (for parametric energy analysis); and a Health and Wellness tool (to measure the financial impacts of various wellness design strategies).

HKS Developed “sequence-simulator” parametric modeling tool to simulate human movement in complex healthcare environments; also, “Lab in a Bag,” a sensor network that correlates environmental and human outcomes.    

HMC Using Flexsim software to analyze human traffic patterns and predict pedestrian flow in high-traffic healthcare spaces, such as EDs.

IA | Interior Architects Gathering real-time operations data and creating custom infographics to gain better insights on user trends and opportunities.

Kahler Slater Conducting POEs to see how spaces and environments have performed for end-users over time.

Kenneth Park Architects Added three interior designers (now seven); expanded services to include commercial offices, residential interiors, hospitality.

L3 Healthcare Design Completed a five-year project to design a prototype orthopedic ambulatory surgery center.

Legat Architects Created eight strategic planning groups to explore long-term initiatives.

LPA Four-member research team leading efforts in post-occupancy surveying and energy data gathering.

LEO A DALY New effort: repurposing historic structures.

Lord Aeck Sargent Started new design forum, pin-ups and critiques, “Drink & Draw” event, and office Social Hour.

Niles Bolton Associates Gathering cost metrics specific to multifamily building typologies, location, and density.

Payette Developed publicly available Glazing and Winter Comfort Tool to improve façade design and lower energy demand.

Perkins+Will Collaboration with Arid Lands Institute, Arup, and city of Los Angeles on “Hazel,” a digital modeling tool to help arid communities build infrastructure needed to capture and reuse stormwater runoff.

Quattrocchi Kwok Architects Advocating for CHPS-designed schools; designing K-12s based on current research showing benefits of good facility design on academic achievement.

Retail Design Collaborative Renamed the firm (formerly Perkowitz + Ruth).

RNL Implemented a proprietary rating system that summarizes metrics from Envision, WELL, Energy Star, Fitwel, etc.

ROSSETTI Expanding its role in urban planning.

SH Architecture Using Lean design principles to streamline project delivery.

Sheehan Partners Architecture + Interiors Use of virtual reality for client presentations.

Sink Combs Dethlefs Invented a secure laundry closet where the hamper connects directly to the locker room but can also be accessed from the outside. Laundry service personnel can get to the dirty laundry, but not into the locker room itself.

SmithGroupJJR InKNOWvations professional development series: 53 topics, 197 sessions, 2,023 participants. Website provides one-stop shop for learning, performance, and goal setting.

STR Partners Educating school districts to self-perform work.

Ted Moudis Associates New training program for Newforma, PlanGrid, and virtual reality.

TEG Architects Refined its master planning process to help clients align healthcare facilities with their strategic plans.

Ware Malcomb New concentration: designing multistory warehouse buildings for tight sites in cities like LA, NY, and Seattle.

WATG Designed world’s first freeform 3D-printed house.

WDG Architecture Special focus on operational efficiencies for talent acquisition, workflow, balancing teams.

Weber Thompson Using VR to support clients with leasing efforts for their properties.

Wendel Applying a Master Builder approach in which the design firm leads the design-build team to provide a single point of contact for the client.

Wilson Associates Implemented Office 365 for better collaboration across global offices. New design studio in Shanghai.

ZGF Applying computational design to form-making and analysis.



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