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The 10 highest-regarded architecture companies in the world
There are hundreds of thousands of architecture firms across the world. While all of them offer some value, some are standouts amongst the competition. In this post, we'll unpack the offerings from ten of the highest-regarded architecture companies in the world amid the COVID pandemic.
What are the components of a top-rated architectural firm?
Here are the criteria we used when settling on our picks for the top design firms.
- The Team – As the most important component of the business, the team is responsible for the companies reputation. When clients assess a firm, they always look at the team first, even before the management.
- The Management – The management guides and drives the team to positive business outcomes. The management needs experience and industry clout to be a leader in the architectural space.
- The Experience – What kind of experience does the firm offer its clients? What markets do they compete or specialize in?
- The Portfolio – Looking at past projects gives you an idea of what to expect if you hire the architectural firm. A portfolio needs to have plenty of images and useful content to promote the companies accomplishments.
- The Website – The companies website is its calling card. The best firms all run interactive sites offering prospects easy navigation through the platform.
The 10 Highest-Regarded Architecture Companies in the World
#1 BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
The Bjarke Ingels Group has a reputation as a disruptor and innovator in architecture. The company shot to super-stardom when it designed a ski slope on top of a landfill, and it continues to invent new methods for resolving complex architectural problems.
Bjarke Ingels Group proposal for a competition hosted by Rebuild by Design, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, combines exquisite design with practical storm management.
One of the company's outstanding projects is the 10-mile loop of flood walls surrounding community spaces, protecting Lower Manhattan in New York City from flood threats. The mixed-use design of the floodwall provides functional protection from flooding. It also acts as a seating and sunbathing arrangement when there's no flood threat.
One of the most innovative architecture design features of the wall is under the FDR drive bridge. The wall folds when not in use, creating an esplanade that houses a winter market. The company won a design award for the wall, skyrocketing its reputation.
Houzz is an architectural firm specializing in remodels. Palo Alto-based husband and wife team of Alon Cohen and Adi Tatarko experienced nothing but frustration when remodeling their home in 2020.
As a result, the couple launched Houzz, an online community connecting homeowners and architectural professionals. In the last decade, Houzz developed a global audience of over 40-million active monthly users. You get tips from real architects and an interior designer to assist with your project development.
Houzz capitalized on the rising traffic volumes to its sight to create unique revenue streams. The site hosts a listing for over 60 design disciplines, including landscape architects and designers, charging several hundred dollars for a premium listing on the site.
This firm specializes in healthcare design, with a reputation as the leading form in hospital and medical center design in the United States. Perkins+Will is currently working on several projects across the country, planning a series of "health districts."
These projects combine urban planning technicalities with architecture to foster healthy outcomes for hospital patients before and after treatment.
Lead by principal Robin Guenther; the company aims to create spaces that emphasize physical, economic, and social well-being to create an environment that offers holistic health. Perkins+Will plan on building more sidewalks, streets, and other infrastructure around its healthcare developments.
The Firm won awards in 2014 for its commitment to healthcare design, with the American Institute of Architects, the Boston Society of Architects, and the Design & Health International Academy Awards.
#4 The Living
The Living specializes in creating temporary structures that produce no waste and feature minimal impact on the local environment. The company focuses on sustainability, providing eco-friendly solutions.
Principal David Benjamin led his team to victory at the Young Architects Program at the Museum of Modern Art. The team received an award in 2014 for building a temporary tower with zero waste on the project.
The Living team combined forces with Ecovative, a New York initiative, and startup aiming to create sustainable building materials. The tower featured design and construction with mycelium pressed into bricks.
The project involved mixing this living fungus root with other bio-materials, creating living bricks that grow in a sustainable design.
After proving the project's efficacy, The Living dissembled the tower, returning it to the original manufacturer for remanufacturing into compost. In 2015, AutoDesk acquired the company, hoping to design a range of next-generation building materials.
NBBJ is another example of a leader in the healthcare design space. NBBJ launched a fellowship program back in 2014, bringing in industry experts to work alongside its design team to create innovative healthcare design solutions.
The first ambassador of the project, a developmental molecular biologist named John Medina, spent time studying the links between the built environment and neuroscience.
The team worked on creating functional healthcare spaces that enhance the comfort, creativity, and productivity, of end-users of the solutions.
#6 CF Moller Architects
CF Moller designs impressive sky-rises and office buildings. They have a mission of disrupting traditional architectural models. With population density growing in cities across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that six out of every ten individuals will be living in a city by 2030.
CF Moller rethinks residential tower design and how we use them. Currently, the form is working on a design for the world's largest wooden skyscraper. This Stockholm residence plans to offer 34-stories, made with sustainable materials.
CF Moller plans to address the special isolation that comes with living in a high-rise. When the company designed a 24-story tower for Antwerp, it included design grouping the apartments in micro-communities of similar residents, such as students and families.
The design also included a communal dining hall and shared spaces like balconies and gardens. The open-plan design gives people the chance to bump into each other, fostering communal relationships, driving out social isolation.
#7 MMA Architects
This architectural company gets a nod in this review for its ability to think outside-the-big-box. The company assisted Walmart with the urban design of its Brightwood location in Washington, D.C.
The team focused on avoiding the strip-mall look of so many other Walmart locations. Instead, they developed a store with easy access, fitting into the urban surroundings. The store has underground parking, and the doors open right onto the sidewalk.
The building itself offers unique design elements, salvaging the original car barn's authenticity. The designers kept the brick façade on the interior, along with plenty of glass and arched entries.
#8 Svignals and Partners
Svignals and Partners was the firm responsible for redesigning Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in the wake of the school shootings that traumatized the community and the country.
Part of the design process involved meeting with local people, holding workshops catering to parents' concerns. The company wants to create a safe school environment for the kids, reducing the threat of future school shootings.
However, Svignal and Partners wanted to provide a safe and secure design that didn't make the building look and feel like a detention center.
Partner Jay Brotman had ideas on visitor visibility. Visitors to the School must walk through a winding garden path to reach the entrance, giving plenty of time for security to spot an oncoming threat. With schools across America looking to improve safety, we expect we'll be hearing more about this firm in the coming years.
#9 HeatherWick Studio
HeatherWick has a passion for creating eco-friendly spaces. HeatherWick redesigned the 30-acre Al Fayah Park in Abu Dhabi, helping it thrive in a desert environment. The new campus features a 65-foot canopy, forming the look of a cracked desert plain.
The result is that the sunken garden gets protection from the strong sunlight, providing a cool, comfortable living space amid the desert's heat. The canopy keeps people cool while reducing evaporation.
The company is also working on designing the firm's $290 million projects at Garden Bridge in London, United Kingdom. In London's answer to the New York Highline, the Skidmore design involves positioning an urban forest above the Thames River. The project has backing from the U.K. Treasury and London's Metro Agency.
#10 The Rockwell Group
This firm specializes in creating comfortable, luxurious modular homes. The firm designs homes that are easy to build, install, and ship across the world. These prefabricated homes are fast gaining traction in populous regions of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and San Francisco, where traditional homeownership is out of reach for most millennials.
The company aims to provide affordable, eco-friendly living in sustainable environments. These homes are also easy to ship worldwide, with the prefabricated design making them easy to move to site and setup.
In 2014, top architect David Rockwell partnered with appliance guru Fred Carl to design luxury prefabricated living spaces. The first ZGF designs include a 2,400 square-foot home featuring four rectangular living spaces and a 500-square-foot interior patio. The company hopes to tap markets in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Colorado, Kansas City, and Seattle.
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