AHR’s slight slip down the rankings is deceptive. The practice reported a significantly improved performance in 2017 following a refocus of its business during 2016-17, with particular success in its regional markets. Architectural fees from UK offices rose from £13.14 million to £17.88 million.
According to managing director Martin Wright, its strength has been its diverse portfolio across many sectors and of both public and private work. ‘We’re a strong regional practice with multiple locations working across multiple sectors,’ he says.
AHR has reorganised its Birmingham and Shrewsbury offices into a combined Midlands business unit, bringing together their respective strengths in the commercial and public sectors. It has continued to reap the benefits of its 2016 acquisition of PCKO, with the housing specialist’s expertise used around the practice.
‘The market continues to be competitive but buoyant, with a good balance of public and private sector work. We are also seeing a continued interest in major regional cities, such as Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham,’ says Wright.
Notable successes over the year include a competition win for the Royal College of Physicians’ £35 million Northern Centre of Excellence in Liverpool. The London market, however, proved more challenging, with a shorter pipeline of work.
AHR’s strongest sector remains education, which accounts for 34 per cent of its work. Higher education projects include student accommodation, as well as major academic facilities such as the Oastler building for the University of Huddersfield. The university has now appointed AHR to design the £30 million Barbara Hepworth Building for the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
Looking ahead, the overall picture is ‘very positive’, according to Wright, with the practice happy with the progress it has made so far against targets for 2018.