01 June 2018
01 June 2018
Grimshaw, London: Social, Democratic, Inventive.
The Culture of Practice
In recent years, Grimshaw has developed its succession plan and along with that has come a period of growth and expansion abroad. As Nicholas Grimshaw, who founded the practice in 1980, takes a step back from the day-to-day running of the firm, the 17 partners across the world work together to further develop the international brand.
“Nick is our emotional head. Everyone still looks up to him and he is still involved in design reviews of projects,” comments Managing Partner Mark Middleton. “But the international nature of our practice wasn’t Nick’s idea – it was that of the new partners. The leap in size has been fuelled by this international work.”
From the practice’s office in London’s Clerkenwell, 230 staff work on anything from schools and universities to major transport hubs. There are a lot of people working out of the office too, with architects on site working on the Northern Line extension in Croydon and at London Bridge, where they are completing the five-year-long redevelopment of the station.
But whether based in the office or out on site, all of Grimshaw’s staff come together each Friday for what is known within the firm as ‘Friday at Five.’ Here they hear news from the other offices around the world, catch up over a beer or glass of wine and listen to a talk from a visiting speaker. “It’s a social moment that brings everyone together,” adds Middleton
He’s proud of this element of the practice and the list of social activities extends to 4.30pm tea and biscuits, book clubs, football, softball, and cricket teams, a film club and charitable work.
There’s also a focus on supporting personal development too. Staff who take maternity or paternity leave are offered a back-to-work bonus of 10 per cent of their salary and they don’t require financial buy-in to become a partner, ensuring anyone who is talented could potentially move to the top of the firm given time.
They also run a little-known returners programme for women who Middleton says have “become lost to the industry” after taking time off to have children. They are invited into the practice to gain experience and mentoring, and if they are the right fit could land a job with the firm at the end. It’s all part of their drive to support women in architecture and provide a good education for the profession’s future leaders.
Author: Kat Allenby, Global Head of Communications, Bespoke Careers