News / July 2014
Wednesday 30 January 2013
It's official: we're big, but does size matter?

HASSELL is the 31st biggest architecture practice in the world, based on the number of architects we employ, according to an international survey of leading practices. We are ranked the second largest architectural practice in landscape architecture, the seventh in interior design, and the ninth in master planning and transportation by revenue. We are the biggest practice overall in Australasia, in terms of earnings. So we are BIG, according to the WA100 for 2013, a list of the world's largest 100 architecture firms.

But the rankings raise a much debated question: does size matter in architecture and design? Some of the world's most exciting practices - for example BIG, Herzog + De Meuron and Jean Nouvel - aren't listed, perhaps because they did not take part in the survey. There are great architects and designers working for large and small practices, according to HASSELL Managing Director Rob Backhouse.

One thing the list does demonstrate is the increasingly international way in which practices operate. "Design and architecture are increasingly global, whether the projects are big or small," Rob Backhouse said. "We can win a hospital project in Australia or China and ask our studios in the UK to work on it because they have some of the best talent in Europe in the health field. Technology is making this kind of collaboration across our 14 studios easier all the time. But the big change is probably in the mindset of our design teams. They just don't see themselves as limited by geography."

Technology makes it easier for small practices to compete outside their home markets. But size DOES matter, allowing practices to build a strong, international talent pool. But size is not a guarantee of design excellence and buildings and places that meet the needs of clients and end-users.

"HASSELL has not grown its practice just because we wanted to be big", Rob Backhouse said. "We have grown along with our clients and with opportunities. As a result, we can compete for the best projects locally and globally and attract the best designers who want to work on those projects."

For the record, the WA100 ranking of HASSELL at 31 is based on the number of qualified "fee-earning architects" that HASSELL employs, a number that excludes our landscape architects, interior designers, urban designers and planners. The rankings are compiled each year by the United Kingdom based magazine Building Design. The list is based on a survey of architecture firms in October 2012.

HASSELL operates 14 design studios in Australia, China, South East Asia and the United Kingdom. In 2012, our work was recognised with the top awards in three categories at the World Architectural Festival.

Read more articles for January 2013

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