While 2014 was a great year for the Chicago-based firm, partner Robert Forest, FAIA, says, “It didn’t sneak up on us. We’ve had a tremendous amount of work since opening nine years ago, and last year saw the culmination of a lot of things.”
Projects like Astana, for example, benefited from extensive research that began in earnest during the global economic crisis. “We had a tremendous amount of work in Dubai in 2008,” Smith says. “We had 23 projects on the boards, all large, and then the crash hit in October.” The firm decided to focus some of its staff on the question of how buildings might better meet the goals of the 2030 Challenge, and in 2012 it published the book Toward Zero Carbon: The Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan. Today, the firm dedicates 20 percent of its profits to research.
For all of AS+GG’s success last year, the partners have no intentions of growing the business too much. Everything still comes through the Chicago headquarters. “Often, we’ve been asked, ‘Why don’t you have more offices?’ ” says Gill. “The reason is because we believe in a manageable approach to the quality of design. The three of us are involved in every single project from day one to the last day.”
With four other supertall towers in the works, the challenge now, the partners say, is maintaining the perception that all clients are welcome. “We’ve had people say things like, ‘We have now gotten to the point where we believe we can come and talk to you about a project because it’s big enough.’ The myth of that is that we are not interested in the size of the project; we’re interested in the quality. Even if it’s a small project, we care about the quality of it,” Gill says.
Top 50 Firms in Business
Find out which firms made the overall list, and discover who made the cut in sustainability and design. To find out how we generated the rankings, read our methodology, and take a look at some of the data submitted by firms.