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Architect Magazine Names Top 50 US Architecture Firms for 2015

Architect Magazine has unveiled its list of the 50 best architecture firms in the US, with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Gensler taking the top three slots in the overall ranking, respectively. The rankings are based on scores from three categories: business, sustainability and design. This year the methodology was updated to include three new factors: percentage of women and minority designers; range and value of employee benefits and the rate of employee turnover. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture also ranked first in the business category, followed by Kirksey Architecture and EYP Architecture & Engineering. EYP also headed the sustainability rankings, followed by Gensler and ZeroEnergy Design, while the design rankings were led by NADAAA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Studio Gang Architects. Learn more about the methodology and view the full rankings here

FC Barcelona Announces Finalists for Camp Nou and Palau Blaugrana Remodel

FC Barcelona has announced 14 teams in the running for two planned overhauls of their facilities at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, including alterations to their main stadium and the rebuilding of the Palau Blaugrana, the nearby arena owned by the club and used primarily for basketball and handball. The alterations to the two buildings are part of a larger €600 million project, known officially as "Nou Espai Barça," which seeks to improve the club's entire campus, also adding an ice skating rink, new offices, 5,000 parking spaces and improving the outdoor space surrounding the facilities. The Nou Espai Barça project was approved by the club's fanbase last April after a 72% vote in favor of the proposal.

The list names eight teams - including BIG, Populous, HKS and Arup Sport - in the running for the overhaul of the stadium itself, which will involve the addition of almost 6,000 seats to bring the stadium's total capacity to 105,000, increasing the stadium's lead as the largest football stadium in Europe. It will also include a complete redesign of the lowest seating tier to offer improved views, and the addition of a roof over the terraces. Also named are the six teams in the running to rebuild the Palau Blaugrana.

The Most Successful US Firms of 2014 are...

Architectural Record has named the "Top 300 Architecture Firms" in the United States, ranking the nation's most successful practices based on their architectural revenue from 2014. Gensler, whose annual revenue surpassed one billion USD, maintained the lead for the fourth consecutive year. The firm's recent commissions, such as Los Angeles' Metropolis, help them set new records for revenue. AECOM, who came in second, also recorded significant growth - both internationally and domestically. 

The top 25 firms are...

London Underline: Gensler Envisions Subterranean Transportation Network for London

Last night, international design firm Gensler received the London Planning Award for Best Conceptual Project for its latest vision: London Underline. The proposal explores the potential of an underground bicycle and pedestrian park beneath the streets of London. Not only does this public interest design utilize existing abandoned space, but also generates the electricity to support itself simply by being used. 

Foster + Partners Remain World’s “Most Admired Architect”

A global survey conducted by BD has deemed Foster + Partners to be world’s “most admired architect" for the ninth consecutive year. The London-based practice, led by Norman Foster, is the 16th largest practice in the world. Foster + Partners’ ranking was undeniable, as the survey revealed a significant seven percent lead over runner-up contender, Herzog & de Meuron

“To be voted most admired practice by our peers is a great honor,” said Norman Foster. “It is a huge tribute to our talented and hard-working teams with their myriad skills and disciplines, both in our many studios around the world and our base in London, all working towards the common goal of bringing innovative design solutions to create a better built environment.”

See who else topped the list as the world’s “most admired,” after the break.

Three-Team Shortlist Selected to Redevelop LA's Convention Center

The Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering has selected three teams for the next phase of the competition to redevelop and expand the Los Angeles Convention Center. The teams, consisting of AC Martin + LMN; Gensler + Lehrer Architects; and HMC + Populous, will now receive $200,000 to develop detailed proposals to be submitted on December 8th.

However, according to The Architect's Newspaper, the redevelopment of the Convention Center outlined by the brief is not yet guaranteed to happen; with the city under contract with AEG to build a football stadium on a portion of the site until October 18th, the Convention Center's Executive Director Bud Ovrum confirmed that, if the city can secure an NFL team by then, the stadium is still the city's first choice.

Mexico City Shortlists Seven Architects for Major Airport Expansion

Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers are among seven international practices listed to compete for a 5,000 hectare expansion that hopes to “alleviate severe congestion” at the Mexico City airport. With each team led by Mexican firms, the shortlisted architects, which also include SOM, Gensler, Pascall+Watson and Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, have been asked to envision a 70-gate, phased expansion capable of hosting 40-million passengers per year. A schematic masterplan has been provided by Arup. Completion of the first phases is tentatively planned for 2018. 

'Hacked' Offices: The Future of Workplace Design?

What does the workplace of the future look like? Shawn Gehle, of Gensler, explains in this TEDx Talk that with over 10 billion square feet of existing office space in North America, we may not even need to envision new buildings. Rather, by "hacking" existing buildings, architects can transform them into something completely new. For more on Gensler's "hacker" philosophy, read our article here.

Which Architects Are Most Admired By Other Architects?

As part of their annual research for the World Architecture Top 100, Building Design (BD) has compiled a list of which architects are most admired by their colleagues from across the globe. Last year's results were somewhat predictable, with Foster + Partners leading and Renzo Piano's Building Workshop and Herzog + de Meuron close behind. According to BD, "this year saw a trend towards more commercial names." 

This year's "most admired" list includes:

Gensler, LOT-EK to Design Google's Showroom of Floating Shipping Containers

UPDATE: The SF Gate reports that the architects of the Google Barge have now been revealed to be San Francisco-based firm Gensler and New York-based LOT-EK, a firm with experience adapting shipping containers for retail design. 

A mysterious construction project in the San Francisco Bay has been making waves for the past couple of weeks. Moored off Treasure Island, locals apparently refer to it as 'the secret project' - and, until now, that's about as much as was known about it. 

Despite months of rumors and complete radio silence from Google, spokespeople have finally released a statement on the project, stating: "Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

While it's a shame about the dinosaur, Google's expansion into technology retail is possibly even more intriguing, as it's entirely new turf for the company: retail design.

More info and an artist's rendering of what the barge could look like, after the break...

White Arkitekter Wins FAR ROC Design Competition

Stockholm-based White Arkitekter, along with partners ARUP and Gensler, has been announced as the winner of the two-phase “For a Resilient Rockaway” (FAR ROC) design competition in New York. Selected from a shortlist of four and an international pool of 117, White Arkitekter’s “untraditional” proposal aims to transform an 80-acre shoreline site in the Rockaways into a resilient and affordable community through a series of small interventions that can be tested, adjusted, or redesigned overtime during the development process.

Successful Workplaces Balance Focus and Collaboration, Gensler Study Finds

AOL Offices by Studio A + O . Image © Jasper Sanidad
AOL Offices by Studio A + O . Image © Jasper Sanidad

Gensler, who recently topped out on the world's second tallest skyscraper in Shanghai, have just released a report outlining the keys to designing a successful workplace. Using their custom 'Workplace Performance Index' they surveyed 2035 office workers in the US to find out what makes employees happy and productive in their workplace.

One surprising result which they uncovered is that, in opposition to the trend of workplaces being designed to encourage collaboration, workers are actually spending more time on focused, individual tasks than they were 5 years ago. Consequently, over 50% of respondents said that they were distracted by others when they needed to focus. What's more, the survey found that when employees could not focus individually, collaborative work was also less productive.

Read on after the break to find out more results from the survey

Defining Gensler's Secret to Success

When the $1.9-billion project is completed next year, the 2,073-foot Shanghai Tower will become the world’s second-tallest building. The state-of-the-art, spiraling form, which is engineered to help it withstand typhoons, pays tribute to the city’s dynamic rise as a leading commercial center. 

The super-tower also symbolizes the ascension—and resilience—of the firm that designed it. With 3,500 employees, Gensler operates 43 offices in 14 countries. Last year, the company worked on some 6,700 projects for about 2,200 different clients, reporting a record-breaking $751 million in revenue. This year, the company projects its revenues will be closer to $800 million—astounding figures considering the industry is emerging from one of worst economies since the Great Depression. “It’s been a serious downturn and a slow recovery,” says Kermit Baker, chief economist of the AIA. “From 2008 to 2011, architecture firms’ gross firm billings dropped 41 percent. Now, most firms are inching back, but very slowly.”

In a landscape still riddled with fallout, Gensler has managed to weather the recent economic storms. After cutting about 30 percent of its workforce in a nine-month period between 2008 and early 2009, the firm has rapidly rebuilt and now employs more staff and generates more revenue than ever before. Many in the industry today are scratching their heads: What’s Gensler’s secret? 

CAPACITY: Gensler Los Angeles Academic Studio

CAPACITY, the Gensler Los Angeles led academic studio at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was created with the intent to survey, understand and visualize the dynamic set of infrastructure constraints impacting and contributing to Downtown Los Angeles’ capacity to evolve. The video above highlights the documentation and synthesizing done by the SLO_GenLA '13 Professional studio which shows the capacity of Los Angeles’ infrastructure and demonstrates how the limits of each system may physically impact the future built form of the city. Once these variables, which include building information and zoning, energy, waste management, and water were universally known and their units of measure understood, scenarios for the future were generated.

Gensler Designs New Silicon Valley Headquarters for Nvidia

Silicon Valley visual-computing pioneer Nvidia has joined the expanding list of tech moguls seeking to transform their work environment into the physical manifestation of their innovative business model. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has released the first schematic renderings - designed by Gensler’s San Francisco office - that depict a pair of 250,000 square foot triangular motherships centered around collaboration - a complete contrast to the typical, dated office building commonly found throughout Silicon Valley’s “oddly banal” landscape.

More after the break...

The 100 Largest Architecture Firms In the World

Building Design has released their annual ranking, The WA100, of the world’s largest architecture firms. Coming in the #1 spot (up from #2 last year) is Aecom, who, with 1,370 employees worldwide, narrowly outranked Gensler (with 1,346 employees). Completing the top three was IBI Group (1,129 employees). AecomGensler, and Japanese-based firm Nikken Sekkei (ranked #4) were the top 3 earners of 2012, each making over $400 million US Dollars in Fee Income.

Of the top 10 largest firms, 5 are based in North America, 3 in Asia, and 1 in the UK (Aedas, which ranked 5th, is dually based in both China and the UK). A similar trend is also evident in the list as a whole - as you can see from the graphic we compiled (after the break), US firms remain the biggest employers of architects and the highest-earners. Although the UK represents about half the number of employed architects as the US, UK firms earned almost as much in fee income.  

Interestingly, the only firms to grace both the Top 10 list and Building Design's survey of the Top 5 Most Admired Firms of 2012, were Gensler (#2 Largest; #4 Most Admired) and Foster & Partners (#10 Largest; #1 Most Admired). Zaha Hadid Architects (who shared the number 5 Most Admired spot with Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, ranked as the 45th largest firm). 

See our graphic and the full list of the world’s largest firms, after the break...

AIA California Council's 2012 Design Award Recipients

Surfhouse, Hermosa Beach / XTEN Architecture - Image courtesy of Art Gray.
Surfhouse, Hermosa Beach / XTEN Architecture - Image courtesy of Art Gray.

The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) has announced the 2012 Design Award Recipients. Since 1982, AIACC has recognized excellence in architecture and design through the AIACC Design Awards Program. An esteemed Design Awards jury has selected these award winners out of 300 submittals. Continue after the break to review the projects!

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Unveils New Columbia University Medical Building

Exterior View South - Courtesy of CUMC
Exterior View South - Courtesy of CUMC

Columbia University has been at the forefront of medical education for more than two centuries, as it was the first medical school in the United States to award the M.D. degree in 1770. Now, the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has announced plans for a new, state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building that reflects how they believe medicine is and should be taught, learned and practiced in the 21st century.

Located on the CUMC campus in the Washington Heights community of Northern Manhattan, the 14-story facility will aim to achieve LEED Gold certification and incorporate technologically advanced classrooms, collaboration spaces, and a modern simulation center. The design is led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect.

Continue after the break for more details!

Lobby - Courtesy of CUMC Auditorium Entry - Courtesy of CUMC Floating Terrace - Courtesy of CUMC Elevated Cafe - Courtesy of CUMC