The world’s most admired architecture firms have been unveiled – several of whom have a strong presence in Australia.
In its ranking of its World Top 100 firms, United Kingdom-based architecture and construction publication Building Design said UK-based Foster & Partners had been ranked as the most admired architectural practice in the world with 17 per cent of the votes followed by Herzon & de Meuron (10 per cent) and Gensler and Renzo Piano Workshop (eight per cent each) and Bjarke Ingels Group rounding out the top five (5 per cent).
Founded in 1967, Foster has been considered the most reputable practice for nine years running, with Building Design attributing the firm’s success in this area to a number of projects which it has secured in recent years. The most significant of these revolves around its winning design for Mexico City’s 470,000 square metre new airport which, when complete, will be one of the biggest in the world. The airport is unusual as it involves a single terminal rather than a cluster of terminals. The single terminal spans approximately 100 metres, roughly three times those of conventional airports – an arrangement the firm says reduces material and energy use.
Of the firms topping the list, several have a presence in Australia. Foster, for instance, has a strong presence in Sydney, where it completed the Deutsche Bank Place in 2005 as well as the Regent Place apartments, according to Architecture and Design.
Herzog, meanwhile, teamed up with HASSELL to bag the prize for a proposed massive revitalisation of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station, which called for traditional clocks and domes retained but also required platforms covered by enormous vaults. That project, unfortunately, may not get built amid considerable level of concern among the new Labor government about the project’s cost.
Gensler, as well, opened a Sydney office last year, while Pritzker Laureate Renzo Piano designed Sydney’s Aurora Place and Bjaarke has previously talked about collaborating with local firms, according to Architecture and Design.
The latest rankings come as debate rages about the reputation of architects within the broader community. Last February, Frank Gehry, the world’s most famous architect, described everything that was being built as ‘pure sh*t’ and lacking respect for humanity. More recently, in a New York Times article, architects Steven Bingler and former Metropolis magazine editor Martin Pedersen accused the profession of being insular, self-congratulatory and increasingly dismissive of the public’s view of what the profession is producing.
Foster chairman and founder Norman Foster welcomed his firm’s achievement.
“To be voted most admired practice by our peers is a great honour,“ he said. “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.”