In a series celebrating BD’s Architect of the Year Awards finalists, we look at the Best Architect Employer shortlist

Earlier this year BD announced all the architects who made it on to the shortlists for our prestigious annual Architect of the Year Awards.

Now we are shining the spotlight on each category in turn and publishing a selection of the images that impressed the judges.

This year’s judges include: Jo Bacon, partner, Allies & Morrison; Murray Kerr, director, Denizen Works; Dav Bansal, partner, Howells; Kay Hughes, design director HS2; Peter Caplehorn, chief executive, Construction Products Association; Peter Fisher, director, Bennetts Associates; Anna Hollyman, Senior Sustainability Advisor, UK Green Building Council; Marta Galinanes Garcia, director, AKTII; Darryl Chen, partner, Hawkins\Brown; Lee Higson, director, Eric Parry Architects; Maria Joao Reis, senior associate, Maccreanor Lavington

Today’s shortlist is Best Architect Employer of the Year Award.

Ackroyd Lowrie


Founded in 2016, Ackroyd Lowrie aims to make architecture open and inclusive by recruiting from outside the normal channels and by nurturing young talent. Its AL Academy delivers onboarding and training for young staff as well as an outreach programme in collaboration with local schools. Initiatives to foster a positive work-life balance include paid overtime, which has enabled the London practice to track and reduce overtime by 70 per cent.



The global infrastructure consulting firm’s entry outlines its Four Pillars strategy. Designed to help its employees develop and grow, the strategy

spans diversity, careers, culture and flexibility. Measures include a programme of reverse mentoring for the executive leadership team and a six month rotation throughout different parts of the multi-disciplinary team for early careers staff. AECOM offers private health insurance for staff and their immediate families.

Holland Harvey

Holland Harvey

The east London practice describes itself as values-led with a culture centred on its people and community. It wants to be a studio that ‘nurtures development, where people are heard, are happy and engaged’.

All new starters undertake Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training, and a Thoughtful Communication policy encourages respectful and considerate communication. Flexible working promotes a good work-life balance, perhaps contributing to the high percentage of women (67%) at the practice.

HTA Design


Some 96% of staff think HTA Design is a great company to work for, and that the practice cares about their wellbeing and can provide support if needed. Based across four studios, HTA has adopted a host of measures to promote work life balance including a permanent policy of flexible working, enhanced maternity and paternity policies and menopause and menstrual leave. Staff groups include a new Neurodiversity Forum.

PRP Architects


The practice aims to create an environment where staff are engaged and likely to thrive. Its people-focused strategy uses training and development to refine skills and enhance knowledge, including a relaunched mentoring programme with participation from 51% of employees.

Wellbeing support includes an extensive network of mental health first aiders and wellbeing coaches. PRP has also revised its pay review and bonuses to support staff in the cost of living crisis.

Stride Treglown


Based across nine studios, the carbon neutral practice was the first large UK architect to gain the purpose-driven B Corp certification. Last year it launched its GROW learning and development programme and promoted 32 people as part of a strategy of controlled growth. It has cut its gender median pay gap by 30% since 2017 and is an accredited Living Wage employer. Staff have a two day volunteering allowance.

Studio Moren


The 31 year old London practice has taken several steps aimed at ‘forging a cohesive environment that welcomes diversity and encourages personal growth’. These include an inclusion steering group, a mentorship programme, and company culture champions to support wellbeing and encourage interaction. The latter is also promoted by the studio’s twice daily communal coffee breaks.

All staff receive training on unconscious bias and equality, inclusion and diversity.

White INK Architects


The Belfast practice aims to grow the business from the inside so that its staff are ‘fulfilled, challenged and appreciated’. All are trained in the HBDI Whole Brain Thinking Model designed to understand people’s thinking, communicating and decision-making preferences. The practice champions a diverse workforce – 50% of the management team are female and one member of staff is deaf, with all staff undertaking deaf awareness training.