John McAslan + Partners
This will be John McAslan's third trip to the Building Awards' podium in four years, a remarkable performance given that the practice has only been going since 1996. The awards underline the firm's international reputation, which this year was consolidated by three conversions of highly sensitive buildings, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Florida Southern College campus in the USA. The practice's success is founded on good design, but that is backed up by stringent quality control achieved through workshops with clients and a partnering policy. The success of this approach is evident in the clients' assessment of the architect, with 93% approval for its creativity and 92% for its integrity. And it also shows in the bottom line: operating profit has grown 55% in the past year.
Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Wilkinson Eyre was beaten to first place by a hair's breadth. Overall, it was the practice with the highest proportion of qualified staff and the one that was judged the most creative by clients. More specifically, it designed the best blinking bridge in Britain and won the Stirling Prize with the Magna Centre in Rotherham. The financial success of the business underscores the quality of its output: UK operating profit has risen 285% in the past three years.
Allies and Morrison
The list of this practice's recent work reads like a roll-call of the UK's most prestigious projects. We have the intellectual establishment covered in projects for Oxford and Cambridge, the arts establishment catered for with the Tate Britain and the Horniman Museum and the cream of the Premiership served by its design for the conversion of Arsenal FC's ground into 577 flats. Not surprising, then, that the practice has almost doubled in size over the past year, and that its operating profit has risen more than eightfold in the past three years.
A broad range of work, with impressive overseas projects. They understand the culture of buildings well
This practice does things by the book. It is one of the few firms to have Investors in People accreditation and to have achieved the British Standard for quality assurance. It also operates a full framework system for suppliers and has set itself tough sustainability targets. Then there's its congruence with the wider social and political environment – in particular Chetwood's work on the Romford Brewery scheme to create a new civic space in Essex, which Nick Raynsford described as "one of the best schemes I have seen for a long time".
Building Awards 2002
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Architectural practice of the year