We’ve been hearing it for years: mid-sized architecture firms are in trouble, squeezed by ambitious small practices on one side and jack-of-all-trades global megafirms on the other. That’s not the case for New York–based FXFowle Architects, however. “We’re one of those firms that have really claimed the middle, and own it,” says senior partner Dan Kaplan, FAIA. “We feel that in the era of very large design organizations, there’s a lack of nimbleness maybe, and a lack of personal touch. Yet for our size, in the age of leveraging technology, there’s nothing we can’t do.”

Chris Cooper

Chapel at Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue (see more photos here)

This year’s Architect 50 bears that out, as FXFowle claimed the top spot in business. The firm posted an enviable net revenue-per-employee figure, and most notably, a 43-percent increase in net revenue from 2015 to 2016. Kaplan attributes the jump to a number of projects “really getting into high gear” over the past year, including what will be the first new ground-up office building in downtown Brooklyn for decades. Plus, he says, the firm’s interior practice is growing, thanks to the addition of principals Len Cerame, AIA, and Angie Lee, AIA.

Anton Grassl/Esto

888 Boylston (see more photos here)

As demonstrated by its portfolio, FXFowle can both ramp up for big projects and hone in on much smaller, specialized ones. A 425,000-square-foot LEED Platinum office building, 888 Boylston Street grandly rounds out Boston’s Prudential Center complex, while the Chapel at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue repurposes a 2,050-square-foot former gymnasium as a minimalist room for meditation and prayer beneath a midnight-blue ceiling. The firm is also working on a new 26,000-square-foot Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island, expected to open in 2019.

Courtesy FXFOWLE

Statue of Liberty Museum (see more photos here)

FXFowle also stood out for the diversity of its design staff: 35 percent are women and 30 percent are racial or ethnic minorities. “It’s one of those issues that we self-diagnosed five years ago, and decided to do something about it and be proactive. It didn’t just happen,” he says.

There’s a group at the office called Women of FXFowle, and role models in senior leadership include senior partner Sylvia Smith, FAIA, and partner Heidi Blau, FAIA. “I do think there is a structural problem in the profession” for women, says Kaplan, who also teaches at Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. “We’re graduating a majority of women. I do see as time goes on, this sort of winnowing, for a variety of reasons. We’re trying to find those pressure points along the way and relieve them, but I don’t think there’s a magic bullet.”

Top 50 Firms in Business

Rank Organization Score
1 FXFowle Architects 100.0
2 Mark Cavagnero Associates 99.3
2 BAR Architects 99.3
4 WRNS Studio 96.6
5 HDR Architecture 95.4
6 Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects 94.5
7 SfL+a architects 93.4
8 Kirksey 92.5
9 PBK 91.0
10 HKS 90.3
11 Richärd+Bauer Architecture 89.6
12 Marmol Radziner 89.4
13 LMN Architects 87.4
14 Carrier Johnson + Culture 86.7
15 Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture 86.4
16 DesignLab Architects 85.9
17 Spector Group 85.7
18 ZeroEnergy Design 85.6
19 William Rawn Associates, Architects 85.5
20 Shepley Bulfinch 84.4
21 Ann Beha Architects 83.7
22 Behnisch Architekten 83.5
23 Substance Architecture 83.3
24 CSArch Architecture | Engineering | Construction Management 83.1
25 Treanor HL 82.9
26 Leers Weinzapfel Associates 82.6
27 Cambridge Seven Associates 82.3
28 Perkins+Will 82.2
29 Hastings Architecture Associates 82.1
29 LPA 82.1
29 5G Studio Collaborative 82.1
29 Array Architects 82.1
33 Page 82.0
33 Duda Paine Architects 82.0
35 ELS Architecture and Urban Design 81.6
35 Studios Architecture 81.6
37 BRPH 81.5
38 CO Architects 81.1
39 NAC Architecture 80.7
40 SAA 80.4
41 MBH Architects 80.0
42 Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects 79.9
43 Populous 79.3
44 architecture+ 79.0
45 Snow Kreilich Architects 78.8
46 Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects 78.6
47 Gensler 78.3
48 Payette 77.5
48 Bruner/Cott & Associates 77.5
50 Perkins Eastman 77.2