At the top of the list is Gensler, with over a half a billion dollars in 2006 revenues. Although Gensler has a major presence in Chicago, its headquarters city is elsewhere, San Francisco, just like two other major firms that we tend to think of as Chicago operations, Perkins + Will (5th place, $268.3 million), number five on the list, but based in Atlanta, and - right behind- Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, (6th place, $195 million) which, as recent management changes have made abundantly clear, is essentially run as just another outpost of the New York mothership.
The biggest Chicago-based firm is VOA Associates limping in at 64th place, with $38.74 million in revenues, followed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (72nd, $37.2 million); OWP/P (86th, $29.72 mil), A Epstein and Sons (104th, $25.1 million), and Teng Affiliated Companies (104), (129th, $19 million).
When you break it out by city, according by my quick, rough analysis, San Francisco again comes out on top, with over $1 billion in revenues spread between 6 firms, followed by New York ($759 million, 13 firms), Atlanta ($600.million, 8 firms) and Dallas ($412 million, 3 firms).
And where does Chicago rank? How about eleventh, with $168 million dollars in revenue, and 5 listed firms, behind such rivals as Houston, Seattle, Irvine, and, as ID'd by Carl Sandburg:
(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall pass to ashes.)OK, OK, I understand the difference between quantity and quality. I know most of the stuff from the hyper successful firms is more likely to set an accountant's heart aflutter than those of critics or general public, but still, there's something to be said for being in the arena, and AR's list reminds us that, whatever the power of our architectural legacy, and with Chicago's current crop of extraordinarily talented younger architects still largely shut out of major new commissions, our pretensions to current importance tend not to travel much beyond the six-county area.
I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he answers: "Omaha."
By the way, the award for best name has to go to Looney Ricks Kiss, which is a highly successful firm in Memphis - and not, need I warn my more salaciously-inclined readers, a contemporary variation of the Venus Butterfly.