How To Get Specified By The Top 10 Architecture Firms

Posted On: 
Aug 23, 2019
How To Get Specified By The Top 10 Architecture Firms

How To Get Specified By The Top 10 Architecture Firms

Build Design + Construction released their list featuring the top AEC firms for 2018 based on revenue. The information for each firm is based on input from individual firms and verified for accuracy. We will review the top ten architecture firms and how building product manufacturers may implement strategies to get specified by them.

The Build Design + Construction report contains multiple findings on various AEC firms, but we will specifically focus on architecture firms, not architecture/engineering, contractors, etc. The top 10 architecture firms in 2018 based on revenue are the following:

  • 1. Gensler
  • 2. Perkins + Will
  • 3. HKS
  • 4. Perkins Eastman
  • 5. IBI Group
  • 6. Nelson Worldwide
  • 7. Corgan
  • 8. ZGF
  • 9. NBBJ
  • 10. Kohn Pedersen Fox
  • $1,355,625,836
  • $607,958,770
  • $396,958,463
  • $261,631,130
  • $246,400,000
  • $222,608,600
  • $191,585,851
  • $189,555,601
  • $182,555,601
  • $152,139,000

The list of architecture firms is quite impressive. Gensler had revenues over $1 billion and the remainder of architecture firms had revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars. How can a building product manufacturer collaborate and ultimately get specified by these prominent firms? Let’s examine a few strategies . . .

Make A Great Product

It goes without saying that you must manufacture a great product to get specified by the top firms. If you manufacture a mediocre plague-ridden product implicated in multiple structural failures and involved in a myriad of lawsuits, you probably need to skip this article. If you manufacture a high-quality, innovative product, that you’re passionate about, please read on.

Gensler published Impact By Design which details their work with clients and communities around the world. In 2017, Gensler estimated 1.25 billion square feet of project work from calendar year 2017 is designed to keep 11 million metric tons of C02 from entering the atmosphere on an annual basis. Gensler is very dedicated to resilience and building products play a critical role in their work.

According to Gensler, “more energy is expended during the production of materials than at any other point during a project’s lifecycle. Focusing on materials with a lower carbon impact, and re-using or recycling materials whenever possible, is imperative.” Gensler recommends that its projects use products that are low-impact and minimize embodied carbon. Also, they prefer locally sourced materials if possible, consider the life-cycle of materials, and examine ways to reduce environmental impacts. Building product manufacturers that are making a sustainable product in a sustainable manner are more likely to be specified.

Develop Proper Specification Documentation

How does the number #2 firm, Perkins + Will address building products and specification? They state that they design for life. They embrace a philosophy called Living Design. Transparency and material health are critical to their design process and selection criteria. Perkins + Will and the Healthy Building Network created a Precautionary List that they use to hopefully avoid toxic materials for projects.

Perkins + Will uses a multitude of transparency documents to help select products. These include: HPDs, Cradle to Cradle, Declare Label, etc. The firm uses the Precautionary List to identify chemicals of concern. Perkins + Will expects project teams to weigh the options and make the appropriate selection based on the specific context of their current project goals. Has your company examined the ingredients in your products and cross-checked them with the Precautionary List?

Building product manufacturers can show their commitment to sustainability and increase their specification opportunities by developing transparency documentation. Health Product Declarations (HPDs), Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Declare Labels, and other documentation can help specifiers select the most sustainable products.

Perkin + Will states that a Safety Data Sheet is insufficient as an ingredient list. They request HPDs from manufacturers for review and do not consider material ingredient disclosure optional. Perkins and Will have a firm-wide mandate to review products against the Precautionary List for every project. Perkin + Will hopes that this process will also influence manufacturers to reformulate products for reduced toxicity. Manufacturers who have the necessary specification documentation like HPDs are more likely to be specified than manufacturers that don’t.

Distribute Your Product Information Intelligently

Number #3 on the list is HKS, which views design as a form of exploration. HKS states that the average A&D firm is estimated to waste at least $40,000 annually on time consuming, sometimes redundant or erroneous product research efforts. In 2014, HKS started the Mindful Materials database to help design professionals make better specification decisions. Mindful Materials is a free platform with information on human health and environmental impacts for products from manufacturers, that’s vetted by experts passionate about making it possible to make informed product choices. Mindful Materials is free for building product manufacturers to upload their HPDs, EPDs, and other sustainable documentation.

Out of sight is out of mind. If a specifier, architect, LEED consultant, or decision maker doesn’t know about the sustainable attributes about your products, they may never specify them. There are multiple distribution platforms for manufacturers to choose from including Sustainable Minds and Building Green. It is critical that manufacturers upload their product information on as many of the major distribution platforms as possible. If specifiers can’t easily, effectively, and quickly obtain your product data, they will specify another product. Do not make design professionals create an account on your website to download guide specs, do not put up firewalls, make it as easy as possible for decision makers to find your product and specify it.

Changing Demographics Offer Specification Opportunities

Perkins Eastman is #4 on the list. The firm designs everything from education, healthcare, and mixed-use projects to transit-oriented developments. Perkins Eastman was founded on the idea that design can have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that older adults will edge out children in population size in 2035. People age 65 and over are expected to number 78.0 million, while children under age 18 will number 76.7 million. Perkins Eastman is involved in healthcare and senior living projects which will increase as more Americans become seniors.

The firm released a study about the state of senior living and how the industry can help provide facilities and care for aging adults. Although the industry has not fully embraced the power of technology; care monitoring, supervision via sensors, and home automation were seen as extremely impactful. Building product manufacturers may find opportunities to get specified for senior living projects if their products can have a meaningful impact in helping seniors.

Smart Cities Are The Future Of Specifications

IBI Group’s mission is to define the cities of tomorrow. They are dedicated to defining how cities look, feel, and work. IBI Group is #5 on the list of top architecture firms. IBI Group is a leader in the application of technology in the design and planning of Smart Cities. IBI Group integrates intelligent technologies into urban infrastructure and projects. Smart Cities use sensors to collect data to manage resources efficiently. These systems may include power, water, transportation, waste management, and other community services.

Product manufactures like TOTO have excelled at integrating their products into emerging Smart Cities. For example, TOTO toilets and faucets can track water usage via IoT sensors and upload the data to a cloud-based system where efficiencies can be implemented. For example, a train station or airport can use the data to determine rush hour times and might increase or decrease toilets and other accessories in certain parts of their building. Spaces can be redesigned in the future to meet these needs based on data collection. Smart Cities provide many opportunities for manufacturers who can integrate IoT sensors into their products.

Designing To LEED Standards

Nelson Worldwide is #6 on the list. They work on workplace, retail, hospitality, mixed-use, healthcare, and industrial projects. Nelson Worldwide aims to positively impact clients` ideas, goals, objectives, and environments. Nelson specializes in corporate office design and is ranked as one of the top 3 firms specializing in office interiors. The office projects include corporate, financial, legal workplace, and technology & media. Corporate interiors have been at the core of Nelson’s services for decades.

Nelson works with clients to determine how spaces should function, how to improve efficiencies, and how to save money. Nelson incorporates LEED best practices into every phase of a project regardless of sustainable design goals for the space. Nelson also considers the economic impacts, life-cycle impacts, and health and welfare of occupants. Building product manufacturers that have current LEED v4 documentation, HPDs, and other transparency information have a much better chance getting specified than those that don’t.

Customer Support Helps To Get Specified

Corgan designed the first net-zero school in Texas and developed the first WELL certified building in the state as well. Corgan is #7 on our list of top architecture firms. Corgan is dedicated to excellent customer support. They are committed to making sure that every decision is in their client’s best interest. According to a survey, 92% of Corgan’s clients said their performance exceeded their expectations. Some of Corgan’s design principles include empathy, clarity, and responsibility.

Building product manufacturers who neglect customer service do so at their own peril. Customer service is a critical part of the specification process. A manufacturer’s history and reputation can be ruined overnight from a major project debacle. Product manufacturers have learned the hard way that poor customer service can have a negative effect on their bottom line. Fire rude and vulgar employees before they damage your reputation. Implement great customer service into the core of your company to increase specification opportunities.

Healthcare Projects Expand Spec Opportunities

ZGF ranks #8 on our list. The firm designs healthcare and research facilities, academic buildings, mixed-use developments, corporate campuses, museums, transportation facilities and eco-districts. ZGF is dedicated to sustainable design practices and supports the Architecture 2030 Challenge . The Challenge asks architecture firms to adopt a series of greenhouse gas reduction targets for new and renovated buildings. Recently, ZGF was voted #1 by Interior Design Magazine for their Healthcare Design. Healthcare projects account for nearly 40% of ZGF’s projects.

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. According to a recent survey , 68% of AEC firms are seeing an increase in healthcare projects. In addition, the size of the projects is increasing, and many include renovations. Building product manufacturers are encouraged to offer healthy building materials for healthcare projects. LEED BD+C Healthcare, WELL certification, and other green building rating systems often mandate that healthy building materials be selected for projects. Once again, product manufacturers with HPDs and Declare Labels and other transparency documents increase their odds of being specified if they develop these critical specification tools.

Philanthropy Makes A More Productive Workforce

NBBJ ranks #9 on our list of architecture firms. The company specializes working with high-tech firms like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung. NBBJ uses the latest research to make buildings stronger, more sustainable, and more efficient. The firm applies its sustainable design practices across all its projects. NBBJ is dedicated to philanthropy and giving back to the community. The firm focuses on environmental and volunteer efforts and in 2009 partnered with the Nature Conservancy to create the Legacy Project.

In addition, NBBJ offers pro bono design services to those who might otherwise not have access to such services. Product manufacturers have more to give than just their building products. Charitable efforts and volunteerism can connect employees to their work and increase engagement. Volunteering can connect employees to worthy causes and resonate with their work. Getting specified is easier when product reps are happy and more engaged in their job.

Train The Next Generation

Kohn Pedersen Fox is the final architecture firm on our list. KPF is noted as having designed the world’s tallest towers. The firm aims to find the best solution for each project around the world. KPF developed The Young Designers Forum (YDF) which serves as a platform for open discussion of design amongst the junior staff and interns. The Forum conducts monthly meetings for younger designers to connect with their peers and discuss contemporary design issues.

Building product manufacturers that successfully train the next generation of product reps, sales and marketing staff, and research and development teams will have a much greater opportunity to expand their company brand. Training employees gives them the opportunity to acquire a wider skill-set. With more skills and knowledge about your products, they are better equipped for dealing with issues in the field and are thus more productive. It is critical that new employees understand the AEC industry, construction jargon, LEED , and other critical knowledge in order to succeed.

How does your company increase your specification opportunities? Does your company have the proper documentation, training, and distribution channels to get specified on projects? What do you plan to implement to succeed in 2020?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank