Read about the winner and shortlisted entries for this year’s Architectural Consultant of the Year award

Winner: HLM Architects

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HLM has seen a boom in activity across the past 12 months. With the firm’s workload increasing significantly this year, it has collaborated through the Architectural Alliance with practices that have experienced a downturn. This has enabled HLM to deliver for its clients using trusted partners and for staff within those businesses to remain employed. HLM has also continued to lead in the arena of modern methods of construction, pursuing innovative platform research with contractors and the Construction Innovation Hub to address the industry skills shortage. The practice has continued to work to address the climate crisis by upskilling its team, with six newly qualified Passivhaus designers and two architects nearing completion of the Association for Environment Conscious Building’s CarbonLite™ Retrofit course. Recognising the lack of consistent project feedback across industry, the firm has also developed HLM_Impact, a digital tool that assesses building users’ satisfaction, considering both qualitative and quantitative aspects.

BA2022 winner Architectural Practice - HLM

Source: Peakography

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Buckley Gray Yeoman

The past year has seen Buckley Gray Yeoman secure work on a number of notable projects both in the UK and abroad. Despite tough broader economic conditions, the practice has undergone a recruiting boom, returning to its pre-pandemic headcount of 103. The firm has also developed a new method for working with some of its clients in the past 12 months, consulting directly with them over their entire portfolio to allow the practice to share insight and design potential without engaging in a full-scale project programme. An example of this approach has been the development of a dedicated design guide for Nuveen Real Estate. In order to provide a positive and flexible workplace post-covid, the practice has retained its offer of hybrid working for staff, which had originally been introduced during the pandemic.

HTA Design

A leading designer of modular housing, HTA’s co-living and affordable housing scheme in Croydon started on site and, at 50 storeys, will become the tallest modular building in the world – overtaking its earlier Ten Degrees project next door. The practice has also undertaken research with Cambridge and Napier universities into Ten Degrees and another scheme in Gants Hill demonstrating reductions in embodied carbon in the construction process by 41% and 45% respectively compared with traditional construction. The practice has increased the volume of repeat business to almost 95% from 83% last year, a sign of strong customer satisfaction. It has also established a new online appraisal system encouraging more continuous reviews which has helped advance the learning, development and careers of its staff – something that ongoing hybrid working has made particularly helpful.

Ryder Architecture

The expertise of Ryder’s team has evolved through organic growth and acquisitions in recent months, with Ward Robinson strengthening its capability in interior design, Haskoll in retail and placemaking, and Doone Silver Kerr in office and hospitality. Customer satisfaction has further strengthened, with commissions via repeat work and recommendations increasing from 71% to 88%. Average overall client satisfaction hit 93%, while the average likelihood of customers to recommend Ryder sat at 9.26 out of 10. Project highlights include its pioneering approach to later living at Lodge Road in Westminster and its work at Whitley Bay High School in North Tyneside. The practice has worked with the Construction Innovation Hub, participating in the trial of the Value Toolkit on public sector projects, and is now implementing it internationally.

Sheppard Robson

In the last year, Sheppard Robson’s team has grown to 400 staff, all working to design buildings, spaces and places that are people-centred and precision-made. The practice’s strength is the range of its work, which engages with the built environment’s most pertinent themes, from combatting climate change to MMC and prioritising health and wellbeing. Sheppard Robson advocates sustainable design to its clients by applying innovative, multifaceted approaches to create sustainable solutions. It continually expands sustainability training for all staff, including CPD seminars from the wider industry and an annual Green Week. The firm’s designs for the Ev0 Building in Manchester will create one of the UK’s lowest carbon emitting workspaces. Other project highlights are Manchester’s Contact Theatre and Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Sport.