AHR, which works across a wide range of sectors, has recently expanded its expertise with the acquisition of housing specialist PCKO Architects. It has also become the first architectural practice to be certified by the British Standards Institution as having achieved Level 2 BIM for design and construction.
Both these factors suggest the existence of a new and hungry practice and, in a way, AHR is both of these; in another way, however, it is distinctly old. Its website boasts that the practice is 181 years old ( a claim few can match) achieved through a complex series of mergers and demergers, the last being when it detached itself from Aedas nearly two years ago.
Last October the British Council for Offices awarded its Best of the Best Award to AHR’s Keynsham Civic Centre and One Stop Shop for being an exemplary office building. The practice has also completed a £6 million transport interchange in Greater Manchester and won planning permission for two office buildings in the city.
A sign of how much AHR is now master of its own destiny comes in the form of a tiny but successful project: the refurbished café and new pavilion overlooking Loch Ryan in Dumfries and Galloway. This first in a series of proposed ‘gateways’ has now been completed, and is small enough in budget to qualify for the AJ Small Projects Award.
At the other extreme of scale, the practice has produced the masterplan for Expo 2017, which will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The international focus, which one might have expected to fade along with the decoupling from Aedas, is evidently still strong – a total of 42 architects are working for AHR overseas and delivering nearly £2.7 million in fees.
AHR is a practice that is hard to pigeonhole, but as one of architecture’s great shape changers it will doubtless continue to adapt itself to a changing market.