Most lists of top architecture firms are nothing more than a straight-up ranking of top revenue-producers. Not the ARCHITECT 50. Now in its fifth year, the program aspires to much more: A qualitative look at how firms stack up across a broad range of categories, from business to sustainability to design. We consider net revenue per employee, profits invested in research, and energy-efficiency metrics (how well firms are meeting the AIA’s 2030 challenge, for instance). To measure design excellence, we asked firms for the first time to submit project portfolios, and had an esteemed panel of judges score them. The result? This year’s list features perennial heavyweights such as Skidmore, Owings & Merill, but also design darlings like John Ronan and Julie Snow. Paul Murdoch Architects showed that small firms can compete with big multinationals.
Below, you'll find information the overall Number 1 winner and a sortable version of the rankings for the overall Top 50 firms.
You'll find the overall Business category winner and the Top 50 firms in the Business category here, the overall Sustainability category winner and the Top 50 firms in the Sustainability category here, and the overall Design category winner and the Top 50 firms in the Design category here. Delve into some other relevant data and insights here.
Check out our survey's methodology here. Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think.
Overall Score: 300.00
Rank in Each Category:
• Business: 11th
• Sustainability: 4th
• Design: 7th
Last year was, without question, a good one for WRNS Studio. The 60-person firm had one of the highest net-revenue-per-employee numbers in this year’s survey, but it was the breadth and execution of projects, combined with a strong commitment to sustainability and design excellence, that earned WRNS the overall top ranking. Firm partner Bryan Shiles, AIA, credits the success, in part, to a diversity of typology. “We did well through the recession and last year because our client base is so broad,” he says. “We have a robust education and institutional portfolio on one hand, and on the other, we built Adobe, which has been very good in terms of leveraging our cache in the high-tech world.”
The project for Adobe Systems—a new 280,000-square-foot office building that opened last fall in Lehi, Utah—was the first time the firm tackled a high-tech facility for a Fortune 500 company.
For a transit center located near Lake Tahoe, Calif., WRNS used the metaphor of a boat hull to create a warm, wood interior evocative of the area’s natural and recreational history. “The key to our firm is that we find ways to craft authentic conversations in a lot of contexts,” Shiles says.
The design judges noted this careful design approach: “The disposition of each project, particularly through its materiality and form, captures and addresses the specific environment and program, resulting in a delightfully variegated portfolio.”
WRNS has signed on for both Public Architecture’s 1% program and the AIA’s 2030 challenge. “We almost don’t talk about sustainability anymore because it’s just what we do,” Shiles says. “Research and hard data is just embedded in our design process.”
See all the ARCHITECT 50 results here.