Architectural Record – "Top 250 Firms: Titans Maintain Lead While Industry Suffers"

« Top 250 Firms: Titans Maintain Lead While Industry Suffers
July 2011

By Jenna M. McKnight

They’ve done it again. For the fourth straight year, heavyweights AECOM and Gensler have landed at the number one and two spots, respectively, on our annual Top 250 Architecture Firms list, which ranks companies according to architectural revenue in the prior year.

In 2010, AECOM garnered $666.4 million in architectural revenue, and Gensler, with $656.9 million, wasn’t far behind. Perkins+Will, at $400.3 million, came in third—its highest position yet. P+W has steadily ascended our list over the last few years, placing sixth in 2008 and 2009 and fourth last year.

While Gensler’s 2010 architectural revenue rose $107 million over 2009, most firms saw their incomes shrink. Overall, the top 250 firms earned $9.4 billion in architectural revenue in 2010, down from $10.2 billion in 2009, and nearly a quarter less than two years before.

Our ranking is based on surveys that McGraw-Hill Construction distributed this year, from January to March, to thousands of architecture and engineering firms countrywide. Foreign companies with American offices were eligible to participate, but they could only report revenue generated by their U.S. outposts. Readers may note the absence of high-profile firms such as Foster & Partners and Gehry Partners. Our team contacted these firms but received no response.

In addition to total architecture revenue, we showcase additional data we collected about each firm, such as domestic-versus-overseas revenue and percentage of total income generated from architecture. These supplementary details can be revealing: URS Corp., for instance, derived only 6 percent of its total 2010 revenue from architecture, yet it still ranked number six on our list.

As our findings attest, the profession remains in the economic doldrums. Since climbing to $12.5 billion in 2008, architectural revenue among the top 250 firms has continued its downward slide. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but designers haven’t felt much relief. “Any anticipated recovery has not materialized,” says Gary Tulacz, manager of surveys for McGraw-Hill Construction.

While a few sectors, such as health care and higher education, are somewhat active, forecasters don’t expect the architectural market to bounce back this year. After rising into positive territory in early 2011, the Architectural Billings Index has sunk below 50 for the past two months, signaling depressed conditions. Moreover, Engineering News-Record’s Construction Industry Confidence Index—based on surveys sent to contractors, subcontractors, engineers, and architects—dropped five points in the second quarter of 2011, from 51 to 46. »

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(Source: Architectural Record)

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