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Architect 50 Database: Overall Rankings Year Over Year

In this article, we’re using Layer App to examine the past 10 years of the Architect 50 list.

It’s been a decade since Architect Magazine began its annual Architect 50 rankings to answer the simple question: which architecture firm had the best year? 

While the magazine’s website makes it easy to view the rankings by each year, we wanted to view the rankings year over year. A visual like this helps us see trends from year to year and makes it easier to understand which architecture firms really are the top architects in the country.

To do this, we used Layer App, a flexible database to organize and create custom “views” of specific data sets.

Before we dig deep into the data, let’s answer a few simple questions.

What is the Architect 50?

While other “Top Architecture Firm” lists rank practices by size and profit, the Architect 50 is different. 

Architect Magazine created the initiative to promote a more holistic view of the profession. Because of this, firms of all sizes are featured on the Architect 50. These practices are celebrated for not only healthy billings, but also strong design portfolios, commitment to sustainability, and overall treatment of employees. 

Since its creation in 2009, the Architect 50 has proven to be a barometer of the best architects in the country. 

It has also become an invaluable blueprint for practices aspiring to shape and strengthen their firm goals and culture.

How is the Architect 50 determined?

The methodology which determines the Architect 50 rankings has shifted slightly over the years and the three-part scoring system has been in place since 2011.

In general, each firm who participates submits detailed data organized under three categories: Business, Sustainability, and Design. Each category is comprised of four to five weighted data points that make up the final score and ranking. 

Learn more about the methodology behind the Architect 50 rankings.

What is Layer App?

Layer App is a flexible database that connects to BIM. At its core, it’s a smart spreadsheet that makes it easy to capture data, then slice and view that data through specific lenses. 

For this exercise, we inputted the Architect 50 data directly from the Architect Magazine website, then configured several custom views to analyze specific subsets of data like the Year over Year Overall Rankings and the top firms who placed in the Business, Sustainability, and Design subcategories. 

Custom View: Year Over Year Rankings 2009-2019

We imported data for more than 200+ firms that had ranked in the three subcategories that comprise the overall Architect 50 rankings. However, there were only 132 firms that had actually achieved a top 50 ranking during the last 10 years.

With Layer App, we created a custom view to display only the Overall Rankings for each year. This made it possible to see a complete snapshot of a firm’s participation in the Architect 50.

While there were many firms that ranked only once or twice, the custom view helped us to quickly identify standout firms that were consistently ranked. Read more about our findings below.

Note: Some rankings do not have firms associated with them. These firms no longer exist or were bought out by other firms.

Finding #1: These firms ranked in all 10 years of the survey

It’s an achievement to be ranked in the Architect 50 at all. It’s an even greater feat to be ranked 10 years in a row. Here are nine firms that were ranked in the top 50 for the entire decade.

Cannon Design
New York, NY, multiple locations

DLR Group
Omaha, NE, multiple locations

Architect-50-Layer-App-Year-over-Year-Overall-Rankings-DLR-Group-1-1

EYP
Albany, NY, multiple locations

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-DLR Group-2
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-EYP Architects-2

HOK
St. Louis, MO, multiple locations

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-HOK Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-HOK Architects-2

Payette
Boston, MA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Payette Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Payette Architects-2

Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Chicago, IL, multiple locations

SmithGroup
Detroit, MI, multiple locations

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-SmithGroup Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-SmithGroup Architects-2

William Rawn Associates
Boston, MA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-William Rawn Associates-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-William Rawn Associates-2

ZGF Architects
Portland, OR, multiple locations

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-ZGF Architects-2

Finding #2: These firms ranked in 9 out of 10 years of the survey

Ranking 9 out of the 10 years isn’t bad either. It’s refreshing to see that all five of these firms were medium-sized practices with only one or two office locations.

What does that mean? It means that firms that are making an impact with higher design and sustainability values can thrive in larger markets against larger firms. We appreciate that Architect Magazine recognizes all sizes and types of firms.

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Chicago, IL

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Adrian Smith Gordon Gill Architect-2

Ann Beha Architects
Boston, MA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Ann Beha Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Ann Beha Architects-2

EskewDumezRipple
New Orleans, LA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-EskewDumezRipple Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-EskewDumezRipple Architects-2

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
San Francisco, CA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects-2

LMN Architects
Seattle WA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-LMN Architects-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-LMN Architects-2

Finding #3: These firms had more than five rankings in the Top 10

It’s one thing to be ranked in the Top 50, it’s another to be ranked in the Top 10 year after year. These six firms had more than five Top 10 rankings.

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Chicago, IL

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Top 10-Adrian Smith Gordon Gill Architects-2

Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Chicago, IL, multiple locations | Tied with WRNS Studio for being ranked #1 twice and the most consecutive years of being ranked in the top 10.

Westlake Reed Leskosky
Cleveland, OH (now with DLR Group)

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Top 10-Skidmore Owings Merrill SOM-2

William Rawn Associates
Boston, MA

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Top 10-William Rawn Associates-1
Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Top 10-William Rawn Associates-2

WRNS Studio
San Francisco, CA, multiple locations | Tied with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for being ranked #1 twice and the most consecutive years of being ranked in the top 10.

ZGF Architects
Portland, OR, multiple locations

Architect 50-Layer App-Year over Year Overall Rankings-Top 10-ZGF Architects-2

Want to see more Architect 50 data?

The Architect 50 Database in Layer App is a robust tool that makes it easy to view data from the Architect 50. We’ve created unique custom views of data including Rankings by Year, Rankings by Business, Sustainability, and Design Category, and more!

We’ve even included data such as AIA Firm of the Year Award Recipients to see how the AIA award winners and Architect Magazine’s rankings align.

Follow these instructions to get access to the Architect 50 Database in Layer App:
1. Sign up below to receive an invite to the Architect 50 Database.
2. Check your email inbox for the invite.
3. Click the “Open Project” button in the invite to access the database!
Note: If you don’t have a Layer App account, you will be prompted to create an account.

Questions? Contact help@layer.team