Monthly Archives: June 2012

ImageTop earning architecture firms. Architectural Record has released its 2012 “Top 250 Architecture Firms” list, which ranks U.S. companies based on architectural review from the previous year.

Gensler  – a global architecture company working on more than 3,000 projects every year – ranked No. 1, reaching $764 million in revenue. Gensler replaces AECOM, who had a record at $445 million last year. Gensler’s impressive 632-meter Shanghai tower is one of the projects that proves the firm is capable of an extensive creative and architectural outlook.

List of top 10 architecture firms

1. Gensler  

2. AECOM Technology Corp.

3. Perkins+Will 


5. HDR Architecture Inc.

6. Jacobs

7. HOK 

8. URS Corp.

9. HKS Inc.

10. Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP

Via Freshome

Botanical Capital of the World. Grant Associates and Wilkinson Eyre are modeling their $545 million, 54-hectare Gardens by the Bay project after Singapore’s national flower the orchid.

With this massive project, which was built on reclaimed, restored land, Singapore aims to become the “botanical capital of the world.” Many elements, including 225,000 plants and new themed gardens that “showcase the best of tropical horticulture and garden artistry” are part of the project.

Via The Dirt

London’s Cable Car Opens. An air tram cable car system that opened this week in London provides commuters and visitors a new mode of travel across the Thames.

Sponsored by Emirates Airlines, the UK’s first urban cable car system has the capacity to transport 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction, which is equivalent to 50 buses in the same time frame. The Emirates Air Line project was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and provides spectacular views of the London skyline at 90 meters in the air as it efficiently connects visitors traveling from the city’s Olympic venues to existing public transit lines.

Via Inhabitat

Golden Lion Winner. Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira has been awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

“Secured by his isolated location, he exudes worldly wisdom. Experimenting with forms of extreme geometry he manages to produce buildings of great rigor. Developing an architectural language that is uniquely his, he seems to speak to all of us. While his work exudes the security of judgment, it is clearly intensified through cautious reflection. While we are dazzled by the lightness of his buildings, we feel the seriousness of their substance.” — Biennale Board Director Paolo Baratta and Director David Chipperfield

Via Architects Newspaper Blog




Earlier this week, I responded to a new discussion question by Kristin Kautz on the SMPS LinkedIn Group about how to structure a communications campaign around a retiring executive.

I offered five tips to Kristen based on the communications campaigns I’ve led for mergers and acquisitions with the final tip being “Keep it positive!” After all, retirement is the rite of passage that we all strive for and it should be a celebration of this person’s accomplishments and contributions to the company and their profession.

A day or so later, Jason Mlicki offered an example of exactly this sort of celebration. As a marketing consultant to environmental services firm Verantis, Mlicki built a microsite to celebrate the career of Woody Wilson West, one of Verantis’ retiring engineers. The Wonderful World of Woody site features a fun and only partially-fictional list of Woody’s super hero-like accomplishments and the ability for anyone to add their memories and congratulations. Perhaps the most effective part of this is that the message focuses on Woody’s specialization – FRP Fans.

Not that I have any idea what an FRP Fan is, but I assume that most of the site’s visitors do and that this topic is something that Verantis proudly pioneers. Mlicki and Verantis show that Woody and his subject-specific expertise has been an asset to the firm AND that he has built the firm’s body of FRP Fan knowledge – a subtle assurance to Verantis clients that Woody’s know-how is ingrained in the firm’s systems and minds of its remaining consultants.
Nice work Jason and thank you for sharing the link.

In case you are interested, here are my five tips:
1. Consider your audiences. I’d suggest running through your list of audiences and considering what their concerns would be — e.g. Clients: Will my project be affected? Do I have someone else at the firm who I trust and want to continue to work with? Will this affect the firm’s ability to maintain overall quality or business acumen?
Staff: Who will fill the void? What upward mobility opportunities does this create in the firm? …

2. Consider your messages to each audience. The more concerns a group has, the more personal you’ll want the communications to be.
– With staff, consider a company- or office-wide meeting to announce it.
– With clients, perhaps phone calls by the partner him/herself on the projects they lead directly, otherwise the clients’ primary contact at the firm. My hunch is that having a trusted person in place is going to be one of the most important messages to clients, so a series of in-person client meetings with the replacement leader or new contact would be necessary.
– With vendors, perhaps a letter is sufficient
– With the industry/press/public, press releases are standard, but perhaps they could be accompanied by a video highlighting this person’s contributions to clients and the industry. Meet w/ select industry journalists to see if there may interest in a profile story.

3. Consider all your existing communications vehicles and who they reach and include these channels as a part of the announcement — e.g. newsletter, e-blasts, website, blog, Facebook/LI/Twitter.

4. Consider the sequence and timing of communications: e.g. 1. Tell partners. 2. Tell staff. 3. Tell clients and vendors. 4. Tell the public.

If this is a high profile firm/individual, time your communications closely together so the rumor mill doesn’t scoop you.

5. Keep it positive. Make this a celebration of a full career and new opportunities for the next tier of leadership at the firm

Success by Design: Revealing Profiles of California Architects, written and photographed by Jenn Kennedy, provides a detailed overview of the careers of 25 successful architects in California.

Kennedy profiles a diverse group of architects from variety of firms based throughout California who have worked on projects ranging from residential, commercial buildings, educational institutions and public arenas. She does a compelling job of telling the stories of architects through interviews, portraits and photographs and includes renderings from each firm, discussing their beginning work until current work.

The book is accessible and illuminating. Kennedy has a unique approach in telling each innovator’s story in an authentic and sincere manner. Each innovator shares their personal history, how they got started, their challenges, lessons learned and other aspects of their journey that make this book a must-read for anyone who aspires to pursue this profession.

Success by Design is a helpful resource for architects and designers new to the industry or for anyone looking to work for or with these firms, but it would also be useful for architects who are seeking to start their own firm and need perspective on how to build a practice.

Notable architects profiled include Steven Ehrlich, principal and founder of Ehrlich Architecture, Art Gensler, cofounder of Gensler, Ray Kappe, educator and founder of SCI-Arc, Stephen Kanner, modernist and founder of the A+D Museum (Kanner passed away in 2010), and Lauren Rottet, an internationally recognized interior architect.

Architects profiled in the book:

Barry Berkus of Berkus Design Studio
Boris Dramov, FAIA, President of ROMA Design Group
Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, Design Principal of Ehrlich Architects
Richard Emsiek, AIA, President and COO of McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners
Elisa Garcia, President of Garcia Architects
Art Gensler, FAIA, Chairman of Gensler
Craig Hodgetts, FAIA, Creative Director and Hsinming Fung, AIA, Director of Design at Hodgetts and Fung Design and Architecture
Michael Johnson, AIA, Design Principal of Carrier Johnson + Culture
Stephen Kanner, FAIA, President of Kanner Architects
Ray Kappe, FAIA, President of Kappe+Du Architects
Hank Koning, FAIA, Founding Principal and Julie Eizenberg, AIA, Founding Principal of Koning Eizenberg
Dan Meis, FAIA, Senior Principal of Populous
David Mourning, President and CEO of IA Interior Architects

Barton Myers, FAIA, President of Barton Myers Associates
Ed Niles, FAIA, President of Edward R. Niles Architect
Juan Diego Perez-Vargas, Principal of KMD Architects
Simon Perkowitz, AIA, CEO and President and Steve Ruth, AIA, Executive Vice President of Perkowitz+Ruth Architects
Randy Peterson, FAIA, President and CEO of HMC Architects
Michael Patrick Porter, AIA, President of Michael Patrick Porter Architect
Beverly Prior, FAIA, Principal of Beverly Prior Architects (now HMC Architects)
Lauren Rottet, FAIA, Founding Principal and Richard Riveire, AIA, Principal of Rottet Studio
Don Sandy, FAIA, President of SB Architects
Rob Steinberg, FAIA, President of Steinberg Architects
Erik Sueberkrop, FAIA, Chairman of STUDIOS Architecture
Allison Williams, FAIA, Principal of Perkins + Will

For more information on Kennedy and the book, check out where Waltercomms blog readers receive a 20% discount by using the code Blog20.

Community project. The HMC Designing Futures Foundation board recently approved a grant to fund the restoration of the Micheltorena Steps in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The steps are a main pathway to Micheltorena School for children in the neighborhood, and are unsafe and in disrepair.

Scott Plante of the LA Studio, who proposed the project, lives near the school, uses the steps and is committed to improving the quality of life in Silver Lake. He went to the Silver Lake Urban Design Committee with a design proposal to provide light steps and underpasses throughout Silver Lake. Recognizing the safety issues with children and the adjacent school, the Micheltorena Steps were selected as a prototype for repairing and relighting similar steps throughout the neighborhood.

 Via HMC Architects Blog

Written by Adrienne Luce, Designing Futures Foundation Executive Director

LEEDing the Way. This week Portland International Jetport became the second commercial terminal in the United States to achieve LEED Gold certification. Gensler on Cities interviewed project manager Jim Stanislaski to find out what’s next in the field of sustainable aviation design.

It’s important to note that while the LEED program has done a great job of transforming the marketplace and generating public awareness for the importance of sustainable design, these certifications are not the finish line. To solve the current energy crisis we need to look beyond LEED. We need to start thinking about how to achieve net zero energy and net-zero water airport terminals. On paper that may seem daunting, but we aren’t that far off from making it a reality. – Jim Stanislaski

 Via Gensler on Cities

Written by Leah Ray

Enabling mobility. Steelcase’s Jan Johnson blogs how mobility in the workplace means many things to different people.

“Mobility requires much more than a real estate strategy du jour to save space: It can and should be one of the ways we enable worker choice and control.”

Via Metropolis POV

Interview with BIM expert. Chirag Mistry has been at HOK for eight years and is one of HOK’s leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) experts, focusing primarily on lab and research facility design and development in HOK’s Science + Technology practice.

In this Q&A interview, Mistry talks about the biggest advantage for project teams designing lab and research facilities using BIM, his most favorite and most challenging aspects of being a BIM expert and what the future holds for BIM.

Via HOK Life

Modern masterpieces. Talkitect looks at five of the greatest modern buildings in the world.

The following very different architectural masterpieces, all with a unique story, are explored.

– The Eden Project, UK, by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners
– Sydney Opera House, Australia, by Jørn Utzon
– Church of Light, Osaka, Japan, by Tadao Ando
– Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, by Frank Lloyd-Wright
– Kammermusiksaal, Berlin, Germany, by Hans Scharoun and Edgar Wisniewski

Written by Francesca (who writes for McCormick Architecture)

Reclaiming the streets. At least 2,000 residents of Brussels, Belgium, had a picnic in the streets, taking a unique approaching to rethinking their Streets as Places last weekend.

The picnic, which blocked traffic for several hours, was kick-started by Philippe Van Parijs, a philosophy professor connected to the universities of Louvain-La-Neuve and Oxford. He recently published an opinion piece on the need of more public space for pedestrians and cyclists in several local media outlets.

Via Polis, Written by Laurent Vermeersch

Parks and pavilions. The Dirt blogs about the new issue of Architype Review which focuses on parks, the spaces designed to explored on foot, and pavilions, the spots from which visitors can take a moment to sit and enjoy the landscape.

“Pavilions are an important part of getting people outside. Landscape architects place these shelters to entice people to walk to them, and they are often sited to afford wonderful views to the landscape beyond. Pavilions provide a place to rest along the way, as well as shade to shield us from too much exposure to the sun. They are designed to be accessible, so that all ages and abilities can enjoy a wonderful outdoor setting.” — Susan Hatchell, ASLA President, FASLA

Interview with Greg Lynn. Lynn, a Studio Professor at UCLA’s School of Architecture and Urban Design and owner of Greg Lynn Form, works among multiple fields and has partnered with companies such as BMW, Boeing, Disney and Imaginary Forces. He recently delivered the 2012 Sally Walsh Lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

“I think that most of the built environment is a backdrop to daily life and I am all for that. I want people to feel comfortable and I want them to have an affection for being in, on, or around anything I design. In order to have an affection for something it has to be noticed. I find vernacular design a little creepy and obsequious. I prefer a direct greeting over a stalker.” – Greg Form

Via Offcite, Written by: Scott Cartwright and Jenny Lynn Weitz Amare-Cartwight

Architects and Blogging. A panel at last month’s AIA Convention offered a behind the scenes look at a few architects who blog. Panelist Bob Borson writes the Life of an Architect blog and shared his presentation slides and notes with his readers.

“Have I been successful? Depends on how you define success. If you define it as whether or not people have been coming to my site, I’d have to say the answer is yes … but that’s only if that’s your goal – which it wasn’t for me. I was simply trying to learn something new, and in the process, discovered that there is more than one way to communicate with people.”