Former student's architecture firm ranked best in the nation by AIA

Adrian Smith

Wes Good

An architecture firm led by Adrian Smith ’66, an outstanding alumnus of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, heads the 2015 Architect 50, a ranking of the nation’s top architecture firms compiled annually by the American Institute of Architects. Smith is co-founder Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and also serves as a principal of the firm.

This year's ranking also includes Kirksey Architecture, led by managing principal Wes Good ’90, as the 20th most successful architecture firm in the U.S.

The AIA compiles the list from a broad range of characteristics that include the net revenue per employee, scores from a jury’s review of firms’ 2014 projects, inclusion of sustainable design elements, percentage of women and minority designers, and the range and value of employee benefits.

Among projects placing AS+GG on top of the Architect 50 are the Federation of Korean Industries Tower in Seoul, South Korea, the Waldorf Astoria Beijing, and a master plan and design for Astana Expo City 2017.

The 805 foot-tall, 50-story FKI building has a unique skin that reduces its internal heating and cooling needs and collects energy with photovoltaic panels. It also includes a rooftop atrium garden with additional photovoltaic panels.

The 176-room Waldorf Astoria Beijing’s symmetry, prominent eaves and bronze exterior are nods to design elements in the nearby Forbidden City, one of China’s most historic sites. The structure earned numerous design awards, including a Citation of Merit from the Chicago AIA.

A master plan and design for Astana Expo City, the focal point of Astana, Kazakhstan’s 2017 world’s fair, was another of the firm’s 2014 projects. The design includes hotel, retail, office, art and performance spaces in 19 self-sustaining exposition buildings. The firm designed Expo City to become a permanent research center after the fair.

Smith, a firm principal who received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Texas A&M at the university’s spring 2013 commencement, is widely regarded as the world’s leading authority of supertall buildings.

He designed the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which opened in 2010. The skyscraper rises more than half a mile, 2, 716.5 feet, above Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates.

Placing No. 20 on the 2015 AIA list is Kirksey Architecture, a Houston-based firm that designs commercial, educational, public, healthcare and residential projects. Its managing principal Wes Good, who earned a Master of Architecture degree at Texas A&M, oversees daily operations and provides strategic visioning for the firm.

Among the firm’s 2014 projects was a restoration of Sylvan Beach Pavilion, which closed in 2008 after damage from Hurricane Ike.

The pavilion, which became a popular spot for weddings, graduations, concerts and civic events after it opened in 1956, was restored by a Kirksey team that worked with the Texas Historical Commission to highlight the structure’s original Modern design and add new elements to protect it from future hurricanes.

The firm was also ranked No. 54 on the 2015 Aggie 100, a list of the fastest-growing companies owned or led by Texas A&M graduates.

posted November 11, 2015