UK architecture firm Holmes Miller has recorded a 100% growth in turnover in the southeast of England over the past 12 months, helped considerably by the firm’s decision to shift its main studio in the region from central London to St Albans.
Recent business wins since the move have included designing the new £30m City Learning Quarter for City of Wolverhampton College, the decarbonisation and refit contract at Watford Town Hall, which is being converted into a new cultural venue, alongside several new schools for local authority clients.
Callum Houston, managing director at Holmes Miller, said: “Despite concerns about the wider economic landscape – particularly public spending – continued investment into community, leisure and education facilities across the area offers some definite optimism for the year ahead.
“Architects and other construction sector professionals will play a vital role when it comes to meeting long-term societal goals, particularly around retrofitting and decarbonising our existing public buildings in our pursuit of becoming a net-zero society.”
The Glasgow-headquartered firm – which also has an office in Guangzhou in China – has grown its headcount within the region by 200% since moving to St Albans in the summer, including appointing Mariyam Afnida as new technical lead in November. The company plans to further grow the new office based on a strong pipeline of work particularly in higher and further education, stadium design and public sector building.
One of its flagship wins last year was to design Buntingford First School in Hertfordshire, the county’s first school to be rated fully net-zero carbon, which is due for completion this summer. The school is being built to ‘Passivhaus’ standards – an energy rating Holmes Miller specialises in – which results in improved air quality, reduced carbon emissions and lower energy running costs.
Holmes Miller’s southern projects also include the £27m London South Bank Technical College – a 4,000-student facility teaching practical subjects including science, technology, and engineering – which was handed over to the college for occupation in April.
Mark Ellson, director and head of the new St Albans studio, said: “Creating a solid new base in St Albans has delivered very positive results.
“The dynamic with many clients has changed because we understand their local needs better, we can share a greater knowledge of the region, and better understand the impact of projects such as those being provided for the community. Our clients are finding that invaluable, including some of the leading councils in neighbouring areas.”
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