In a year which has brought its fair share of surprise outcomes in the UK and further afield, AHMM has kept its head down and, in many ways, carried on with business as usual. The projects featuring in this review continue to show a very broad spread in their scale, geography, programme and outcome but this year are joined by other kinds of project altogether. These include our new publishing arm, FifthMan, established to allow us to make beautiful books to present the work and interests of the practice from new perspectives. For the time being however, here’s what 2016 looked like for us.
This year we have completed 20 projects in the UK and the US, from offices and studios for Google and YouTube at King’s Cross; through new social housing in Oxford and a primary school for a brand new community at Alconbury Weald; to the newly-opened shop at the Barbican Arts Centre.
We have had another year of success in national and international awards with 18 projects celebrating 25 awards between them. Five projects won AIA regional awards, with the Plow Building awarded the AIA Central Oklahoma Design Excellence Honor Award for Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse. White Collar Factory picked up the MIPIM UK Visionary Building of the Year and both Number 1 Oxford Street and Weston Street received commendations at the World Architecture Festival. Liverpool’s Royal Court won the AJ Retrofit Award for best cultural building and was named the overall Retrofit of the Year, also winning the British Construction Industry Award for Building Project of the Year. Two AHMM projects were also awarded RIBA National Awards: 61 Oxford Street and ARK All Saints Academy and Highshore School.
This year a number of AHMM projects have been granted planning approval in the UK, the US and Europe. One project which has attracted particular interest has been Blossom Street, the masterplan for a site close to Spitalfields in east London. Having been called in and approved by the Mayor of London in the spring, work is now set to proceed on creating a total of 350,000 square feet of space including new offices and 40 apartments; bringing neglected warehouse buildings back into use; and improving the public realm. Another significant planning approval in London has been No 1 Oxford Street, a pivotal site on Europe’s busiest shopping street that will see central London’s first new theatre in 30 years.
This year the latest phase began at Morelands, the complex housing our London office, while a little further along the road work also began on the second phase of The Bower, which sits opposite White Collar Factory, itself close to completion in early 2017. Just around the corner in Farringdon, three new projects also got underway: Benjamin Street, 20 Farringdon Road, and 119 Farringdon Road, the site of the Guardian newspaper’s former headquarters.
Elsewhere in London both the Television Centre Masterplan and the Hawley Wharf Masterplan completed their first key buildings. At Elephant Park’s West Grove North, AHMM’s tallest tower and the first of three AHMM buildings in the masterplan started on site. As the year comes to a close, the refurbished and expanded Curtis Green building is preparing to take on its role as New Scotland Yard, the new home of the Metropolitan Police.
FifthMan, AHMM’s in-house publishing initiative, published its first ‘proper’ book, Extra Ordinary, in May. You can buy a copy online here. We also published five Adventures in Paper during 2016, covering topics as diverse as the Burning Man Festival, bike riding, and barbecue culture in Oklahoma City. Our next book is a collection of Timothy Soar’s images of our work in Oklahoma City entitled A Promise of Living, scheduled for publication early in the new year.
This year AHMM returned to the Venice Biennale, where Paul Monaghan was invited to talk about the Stirling Prize winning Burntwood School as part of the festival preview.
Earlier in the year Paul joined the Mayor of Liverpool to cut the ribbon at the official opening of Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre. In April Open City’s fifth Green Sky Thinking week was launched at AHMM’s Morelands office chaired by Nick Raynsford, former MP and government minister, while as part of Open House 2016, 12 AHMM buildings across the capital opened their doors to the public.
White Collar Factory, The Bower, and 240 Blackfriars Road were all featured in WRK/LDN – Shaping London’s Future Workspaces, an exhibition exploring how, where and in what kinds of places we’ll be working in the future. In November Burntwood School hosted BBC Question Time.
The directors continued their speaking, lecturing and award judging work throughout the year. Having received the previous year’s Stirling Prize Paul Monaghan sat on the judging panel for this year’s prize; he, Jonathan Hall and Simon Allford also sat on the judging panel at this year’s WAF awards held in Berlin. Simon sat on the panel for the BCI Awards, the RIBA International Awards and the RIBA London East region awards panel, which he chaired.
2016 has been a busy year for our practice as well as the work that we do; the social, cultural and educational life of AHMM continues to thrive. In January our Oklahoma office moved into its new home in the award-winning Plow building, and in Bristol Associate Directors Stephen Taylor and Cormac Farrelly took part in the RIBA Student Mentoring Scheme working with students from Bath University and the University of the West of England. Associate Directors Will Lee and Philip Turner continued their work as visiting lecturers at Greenwich University with Phillip also teaching at the London School of Architecture, which we also supported through funding and hosting a placement. We were delighted to join The Bartlett School of Architecture in celebrating its 175th anniversary with a look back at the directors’ time there, and once again sponsored the Bartlett’s Victor Kite Award for Design Technology.
The practice has strengthened its culture of partnerships, fundraising and volunteering through practice, team and individual initiatives. We continue to support and take an active role in built environment organisations including Open City, Bristol Architecture Centre and The Architecture Foundation, which Simon Allford chairs. The new Partnerships Group of staff from across the practice builds on our existing charitable and responsible business work, encouraging giving, fundraising and volunteering, and has so far supported causes including Calais Kitchen, Help Refugees and Bloodwise, and organisations such as the City Centre, Thinkwell – a charity supporting young people and mental health, St Luke's Community Centre, and education charity Envision. Through individual and team sporting and social events, staff have raised money for Crisis, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Lymphoma Association. In March Peter Morris and Associate Director Ceri Davies cycled from London to Cannes to raise money for children’s charity Coram – a feat a new group of cyclists will repeat in 2017.