Merged group will be one of 10 largest practices in the world, with expected turnover of £130m
Newcastle architect Ryder has merged with American firm HKS, creating one of the 10 largest practices in the world.

RyderHKS will employ 700 architects with an annual fee turnover of more than £100m, which is expected to increase by up to 30% this year.

Before the merger this week, Ryder and HKS had worked together on healthcare projects since 2001. The merger will enable Ryder to branch out into sectors in which HKS has greater expertise, such as leisure, aviation and defence. It gives HKS, which has its head office in Dallas, Texas, a foothold in Europe.

RyderHKS chief executive Peter Buchan said: "The merger gives us greater credibility and resources. We are talking to clients in two European countries over leisure projects that we would never have been considered for, prior to the deal."

The company intends to double the size of its London office and move from east London to the West End. RyderHKS managing director Mark Thompson said: "We see no need to bring anyone else in at the moment. There is no sector that either Ryder or HKS are not leaders in – although pharmaceuticals and transportation are markets we may tackle at a later stage."

Architects need to broaden out of the ‘silo mentality’

RyderHKS boss Peter Buchan

Thompson said that the UK business intends to project-manage schemes more, as is the practice in the US. British architects tend to concentrate on the design stage. RyderHKS chief executive Peter Buchan said: "Because so much of the industry is underperforming, the level of expectation among our clients in the UK is often low. Architects need to be doing business in a different way and look to broadening out the 'silo mentality' of dealing solely with architectural issues."

The merger comes after RyderHKS chairman Paul Hyett made several rallying calls – in his capacity as RIBA president – for the profession to create a new profile by forming larger organisations.

Hyett said: "This merger will enable us to undertake work of a more complex and interesting nature. We can now extend our capabilities of working with contractors and consultants across all elements of building design."

The practice now has headquarters in Newcastle and Dallas, with other offices in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Mexico and Dubai.

The HKS story: From Dallas to Newcastle upon Tyne

HKS Architects was founded in 1939 by Harwood Knox Smith, focusing primarily on residential and commercial projects. During the 1970s, the firm diversified into education, banking and healthcare, becoming one of the largest architects in the US. On 8 December last year, Smith died at the age of 89. Before the merger, HKS was a global business with 400 employees. Ralph Hawkins, chief executive officer of HKS, now becomes the president of the HKS group. Craig Beale becomes senior vice president of RyderHKS. He heads healthcare strategy. He is also, with Mark Thompson, responsible for US–UK communication. A recent HKS scheme is the American Express centre (above) in Minneapolis, completed in 2000.