04/06/2009 - 00:00

Coalmine canary still on the perch

04/06/2009 - 00:00

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PERTH architecture firms have remained resilient in the face of adversity, with many emerging from the early stages of the downturn without significant changes to staffing.

Coalmine canary still on the perch

PERTH architecture firms have remained resilient in the face of adversity, with many emerging from the early stages of the downturn without significant changes to staffing.

The industry was one of those most affected by the state government's capital works audit, the results of which were not released until the May budget, and the cancellation or deferral of a number of private sector projects.

Architecture firms faced an anxious wait to discover which of their projects were going ahead and which would be deferred or cut, forcing some to cut or re-assign staff.

Despite these concerns, data collected for the WA Business News Book of Lists shows that, on balance, there has been very little change to staff numbers during the past year.

The Perth office of international architecture and planning firm HASSELL remains the largest in the state, with 42 registered architects across its two Western Australian offices - in Perth and Bunbury.

The firm is involved in some of the state's largest projects, including the City Square and One40 William office towers in the city and the Fiona Stanley Hospital project.

HASSELL managing principal Andy Sharp said the government's announcement of its capital works program had buoyed the industry.

"Design professionals are the canary in the coalmine, we're usually the first ones to fall off the perch," Mr Sharp told WA Business News.

"The general mood now is more positive than what it was. There is a significant amount of activity happening in the pipeline and that's certainly boosted the mood of the industry."

Daglish-based Oldfield Knott Architects was the state's second largest architecture firm, according to the Book of Lists, with 18 registered architects.

Major projects for the firm this year includes the new Breakwater tavern and dining venue at Hillarys Boat Harbour, and the mixed used Steve's Nedlands Park development (see page 20).

Jones Coulter Young took the number three spot with 17 registered architects, while Hames Sharley one of the year's big movers, shifted from eighth to fourth with 15 registered architects.

The Buchan Group rounded out the top five with 14 registered architects.

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