ARCHITECT advertised the ARCHITECT 50 program in the magazine and on the website, and sent invitations to firms that requested entries as well as to firms that had been invited in previous years. In all, 146 firms qualified to participate in the ranking. All data was from the 2013 fiscal year and was self-reported. Projects completed or in progress during the calendar year were included. Data was checked for consistency, and outliers were identified and fact checked. Karlin Associates LLC, a third-party research firm based in New York City, compiled the ranking and assured the confidentiality of the data.
Scoring the ARCHITECT 50 ranking is based on scores in three separate categories:
35% Net revenue per employee (counting only architecture and design-related revenue and staff)
18% Profitability (positive change in net revenue from 2012)
14% The percentage of profits invested in research
14% A firm’s commitment to pro bono work, measured by participation in Public Architecture’s 1% program and the percentage of a firm’s billable hours that were dedicated to pro bono work
19% A firm’s benefits to help interns achieve licensure, including paid leave, reimbursement for test fees, and salary increase upon licensure
79% The architect 50 survey included the submission of a design portfolio. A panel of judges, chosen by architect, graded each anonymous portfolio individually to create an overall portfolio score.
11% The category also measured design awards won, including awards granted by architect, the AIA, and ASLA, as well as other urban design and historic preservation awards
5% The percentage of total employees who were licensed
5% A discretionary score for the teaching positions that a firm’s employees held at architecture schools
45% Energy and water metrics (The percentage of gross square footage of a firm’s projects that pursued a potable water reduction beyond what was mandated by code or that incorporated energy modeling or daylighting studies, with additional credit being given for the percentage of gross square footage for which energy data was collected)
25% A discretionary score for a firm’s portfolio featuring the project that best demonstrated its commitment to sustainability (scoring by ARCHITECT magazine editors)
20% Participation in the AIA’s 2030 program and percentage of the gross square footage of projects that were designed to 2030 standards and that were verified as meeting those standards
10% Percentage of a firm’s employees with LEED AP or GA credentials
Each data point in the three categories was assigned a weight, formulated after consulting with architects and other industry experts. After the scores were tabulated in each of the three categories, they were rescaled. The top ranking firm in the sustainability and design categories was assigned a score of 110, and the top ranking firm in the business category was assigned a score of 80, with the rest of the firms’ scores in each of the three categories then recalculated as a percentage of the top score. The sustainability and design categories were assigned more points than the business category to reflect ARCHITECT’s intent that the list reward firms that achieve all-around excellence far beyond just profitability. Finally, a firm’s scores in each of the three categories were added together to create the overall ranking. Those scores were also normalized, with the top firm given an overall total of 300, and all the other firms’ scores calculated as a percentage of the top score. Each firm’s performance was calculated relative to the performance of other firms. A firm with an overall score of 300, for example, did not necessarily top out on every indicator and category; it accumulated the highest composite score.
Follow this link for all of the coverage of the 2014 ARCHITECT 50, as well as all of the past winners.
The Jury for the Design category: