First increase after two years of decline


Gensler has retained the top spot as the world’s biggest architect. These are the firm’s design proposals for Huace Plaza in Zhuhai, China.

The number of architects employed by the world’s 100 biggest practices has hit a record high, according to the 2019 WA100 survey which is published today. Turnover remains steady at $600-699m.

The survey, which ranks firms by the number of architects employed, revealed that the top 100 firms collectively employ 37,787 architects, a 6.5% increase on 2018. The increase follows two years of declining numbers of architects employed, averaging 2.5% a year.

Also read WA100 2019: The big list

Also read WA100 2019: A world behind borders


US giant Gensler is again the world’s biggest architect for the fourth year running with 2,627 architects, an increase of 2.6% on 2018. The firm declined to reveal its turnover.

Japanese giant Nikken Sekkei retained second spot with 1,869 architects, an increase of 1.7% on last year. The practice also declined to reveal its turnover

Aecom remained in third place despite a 7.8% jump in the number of architects employed to 1,733. It remains the top-placed firm for architectural services with a turnover of $599m, $16m ahead of second-placed Gensler.

But Gensler is still the biggest player in the interior design sector with a turnover of $489m, five times that of second placed Perkins & Will.

Overall the number of architects employed by the world’s top 10 firms also hit a record high, increasing by 7.3% to reach 13,129 which is 35% of the numbers employed in the top 100 firms.

Foster & Partners retained the top spot for a UK firm, in 14th place with 659 architects, an increase of 2.6% on 2018.

Aukett Swanke dropped to 67th place from 43rd in 2018, employing 26% fewer architects, a factor the UK’s only listed architect blamed on stagnation in the UK market.

Corso Como Place in Milan by PLP

PLP enters the WA100 for the first time. It unveiled plans for Corso Como Place in Milan in September

PLP, the architect behind the City of London’s tallest tower, 22 Bishopsgate, entered the table for the first time in 94th place with 110 architects.

Confidence about growth prospects for the world’s economy remains high with 73% reckoning demand for architectural services will increase over the next 12 months.

Architects are the most optimistic about growth prospects in Central Asia, which includes India, with 85% saying they expect growth.

Growth prospects for North America and the Pacific Rim, which includes China, are also regarded as strong with 83% of architects saying they expect growth in each region. 

But there are concerns about the impact of a trade war between China and the US. Architects working in the North American market are the most concerned about the effect of tariffs over the next 12 months with 42% saying these could damage growth, the highest proportion for any world region.

Concerns were the second highest in the UK, with 41% saying they thought work prospects would suffer as a result of tariffs. This was followed by the Pacific Rim where 35% of architects said they thought work prospects would be damaged by the introduction of tariffs.

How to obtain the WA100 2019

BD subscribers should receive a print copy of this supplement before Christmas. It is packed with exclusive tables, features and analysis.

To order extra print copies or the digital edition click here


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