WA100 2021: Brighter light on the horizon


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The world is a different place from this time last year

For Keith Griffiths, the final week of January last year was nerve-racking. The chair of Hong Kong-based Aedas was in Vietnam as the country began closing its borders to the outside world in a bid to prevent the coronavirus pandemic being imported from neighbouring China. He was able to get back to Hong Kong, but only after spending the week sourcing masks for the company’s offices around the world.

Griffiths, like many other top global architecture executives, has seen a jetset lifestyle acquire a decidedly earthbound flavour in the 12 months since then. Rather than racking up more frequent-flyer points, they have – like the rest of us – spent much of their time working from home instead.

This year’s World Architecture 100 survey of the globe’s leading architecture practices lays bare the scale of the pandemic’s impact. It is hard to recall now, but the world economy entered 2020 in relatively good shape, says Phil Harrison, the Georgia-based chief executive of Perkins & Will.

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