This year’s WA100 series sees Google HQ architect move into top 50

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Google’s King’s Cross scheme is in for planning at Camden council

Google headquarters architect Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has jumped into the top 50 of the world’s biggest architects, according to this year’s World Architecture 100 (WA100).

The US-Danish practice, which along with Thomas Heatherwick formally replaced AHMM on the £1bn project last year after the tech giant asked for AHMM’s consented scheme to be redesigned at the end of 2013, has snuck into the top 50 of this year’s list at number 49, after making its debut in the WA100 at 89th position last year.

The list, BDOnline’s annual ranking of the world’s biggest architects, is based on the number of architects employed rather than turnover. BIG, which is also behind a public square at the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and whose founder Bjarke Ingels was asked to draw up plans for last year’s Serpentine Pavilion, employs 224 architects and had a fee income of between $40m and $49m this year.

It has three main offices – New York, Copenhagen and a London office at Finsbury Avenue in the City close to Fosters’ recently opened Bloomberg building – and earlier this year submitted plans for the 81,000m2 Google building, which will become home to 4,000 staff.

Fosters remains the UK’s largest practice, with 642 architects and a fee income of $180m to $189m.

Fosters is one of 13 UK practices on the WA100 list. Others include 100 Bishopsgate tower architect Allies and Morrison, the country’s only listed architect Aukett Swanke, and the practice behind Willmott Dixon’s overhaul of Alexandra Palace in north London, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

And Ken Shuttleworth’s practice Make enters the list for the first time in joint 100th place, with 86 architects and a fee income between $20m and $29m.

US practice Gensler remains the biggest practice in the world, with fees now more than double that of the next best rival.

The firm, which employs 2,560 architects and was behind the fit-out of software giant Adobe’s new London offices at the White Collar Factory on Old Street, had a fee income of $1bn to $1.5bn – head and shoulders above second-placed Nikken Sekkei, with the Japanese firm posting $500m to $599m.

The top three remains unchanged, with US giant Aecom staying in third place, having just over 1,600 architects and a fee income between $600m and $699m – although on fee income for architectural services alone, the firm is the biggest practice with fees of $596m compared with Gensler’s $559m.

But Gensler outstripped all its rivals on interior design with an income of $450m, five times that of Aecom in second place.

The WA100 2018 list is out today