Perkins+Will has occupied a concrete building in Yaletown, a warehouse district in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, since 2000. Built in the 1940s, the one-time candy factory is a concrete building in a neighborhood marked by brick and heavy timber. “It’s got a lot of texture to it,” says managing director Peter Busby, Intl. Assoc. AIA.
The Vancouver office employs 88 employees over four floors, including a new basement. Worldwide, Perkins+Will comprises 24 offices and some 1,500 employees. Different offices have different areas of expertise: Vancouver’s focus is strong in corporate, civic, and commercial, for example. “Perkins+Will’s model is not to push down a culture. Our model is to nurture a culture that’s regional,” Busby, 59, says. At the same time, he notes, “our offices are not balkanized. We share work, we share opportunities, and we share staff.”
Perkins+Will opened an office in London in 2007 that will make it a “significant player in the U.K. architecture scene,” Busby says, and expects to open more international offices soon. Despite its size and rapid growth, social responsibility remains one of the firm’s core tenets. One percent of Perkins+Will’s annual gross proceeds go toward charities and nonprofits. “We don’t do casinos,” Busby adds.
The Vancouver office is more or less what you’d expect it to be: Some 20 staffers commute by bike (12, no matter the weather conditions). Maybe five of 88 rely on automobiles to get to work. In part, Vancouver’s simply a safe city for bikers, but the firm encourages bike ridership through public-transit subsidies and even a fitness allowance for bicycle gear. (“It comes to a significant amount of money,” Busby says.) The firm culture skews young. “A lot of young families in the office. At last count there were 40 children under the age of 10,” he says. (There are four more on the way.)
Perkins+Will abides by the AIA’s 2030 Commitment—a challenge to design “climate-neutral” buildings by 2030 (meaning, buildings whose operation does not emit greenhouse gases). The firm strives to meet the goal at its premises and its projects.
“As an office, we’re going curling this afternoon. We also have retreats—summer picnics, winter ski nights,” Busby says. “We don’t have a sweatshop.”