Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) does not chase business growth, but it continues to grow nonetheless. In terms of staff and turnover the practice has seen an increase of about 10 per cent over the past 12 months and remains in fourth place in the AJ100. It now boasts 237 architects in London and Bristol and its upwards trajectory over recent years has been such that it has also grown physically, extending into new floors at its office in Morelands, a Derwent London scheme in Old Street.
‘The office space is a constraint,’ says Jonathan Hall, who meets the AJ at Morelands with his fellow founding director, Peter Morris. ‘We’re not trying to grow for the sake of growth, but because people give us interesting projects.’
As AHMM has established itself in the industry, Hall and the three other founders, who are now all in their mid-50s, have had to consider not only desk space but also their differing roles in the practice and its long-term future. While Paul Monaghan and Simon Allford run different design studios and tend to handle the bulk of the public-facing activities, Hall focuses on legal, contractual, technical and risk management issues, while Morris occupies a managing director role, looking after questions of finance, human resources and internal communications. But, as Hall and Morris are quick to point out, this does not mean that they are not also closely involved in projects and crits.
‘As founders it is important to us that the practice is run as well as the projects are good,’ Morris says.
Last year, AHMM made a very significant move in becoming an employee-owned trust, a decision described at the time as a strategy which would allow future leadership to emerge over the longer term without altering the ‘spirit and ambition’ of the practice.
‘Once you’ve done six months, everyone is an equal shareholder and is eligible for profit share,’ explains Morris. ‘There is also a new trustee board to ensure that the practice operates in the best interests of the staff – the shareholders.’
In terms of projects, the practice continues to be primarily occupied with major public realm, retrofit and new build schemes in London, such as the landmark White Collar Factory office building on Old Street roundabout, a project for its long-term collaborator Derwent that completed last September.
Other major London schemes being developed, such as the mixed-use Television Centre makeover at White City, are complemented on AHMM’s books by a scattering of developments in cities such as Bristol and Liverpool and work abroad including a 14-storey tower in downtown Oklahoma, a major project for the University of Amsterdam and ongoing work for Google in Berlin and India.
Next year, AHMM will be 30 years old. Its now tried-and-tested formula looks like bringing continued success in the years to come.