Purcell is taking on staff as it seeks to continue a ‘measured’ recovery from job cuts made after the Brexit vote. Nevertheless architect numbers fell by 11 over the year, pushing the practice down three places to just outside the Top 10.
A mood of optimism has since returned, according to chief executive Mark Goldspink, with the 12-office practice recently moving into larger studios in both Manchester and Bristol.
‘We did reduce our numbers because of the uncertainty, but for us it has picked up again,’ he says. ‘We have been recruiting and we have jobs available at the moment around the UK.’
Key successes in 2017 included its appointment to the £35 million refurbishment of the National Portrait Gallery in London in collaboration with Jamie Fobert Architects. This followed Westminster City Council’s decision last August to approve the practice’s plans for an infill extension at the adjacent Grade I-listed National Gallery. In Manchester, Purcell has been appointed to the £330 million refurbishment of the city’s Grade I-listed Town Hall.
‘We also managed to get on a four-year, £40 million Parliamentary Estate framework, alongside three much larger companies,’ notes Goldspink. ‘We are punching with the big players. Our reputation for historical refurbishments helps us compete.’
Former Royal Navy senior logistics manager Vanessa Murphy joined Purcell as people director last summer, and Goldspink says she has helped bring about a change in thinking at the practice. ‘Vanessa has brought a fresh approach, she’s straight-talking and has led a programme to redefine our values and identify people we can promote through the ranks.’
The practice hopes to continue on an upwards curve throughout 2018. ‘The past 12 months have been a steady, measured improvement and I hope we will be bigger again in 12 months’ time, ’ says Goldspink. GP