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ArchitectsPortraits of a Practice$
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Thomas Yarrow

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501738494

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501738494.001.0001

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A Particular Kind of Practice

A Particular Kind of Practice

(p.27) A Particular Kind of Practice

Thomas Yarrow

Cornell University Press

Unlike the practices on which architectural critics and indeed ethnographers have tended to focus, MHW is not famous. Employing ten architects during the period I did my work, the practice is slightly smaller than the U.K. national average of just under fourteen.19 In their mid-thirties, the two directors are relatively young, as is the staff profile of the practice more generally. All are in their twenties and thirties, with the exception of David, the father of Tomas. This youth is something they often present as a virtue, making representational capital through coupling that word with others with which it is popularly associated; “dynamic,” “creative,” “innovative,” “fresh,” “original” are words that feature on their website. As a small-to-medium-size practice, MHW rarely takes on projects with budgets of less than £100,000 and is mostly focused on large domestic extensions and renovations, one-off new builds, and small public buildings. The firm’s projects involve close working relationships with individual clients, planners, builders, engineers, and other building specialists contracted as consultants when needed. Design and then construction work involves regular site visits. Involvement in these various aspects of the process of design and construction is at one level a necessity for a practice of this size. At another level they see these working practices as a virtue tying into a broader philosophy. Unlike larger practices where specialism and fragmentation are more common, the company takes pride in aiming to connect processes of design and construction, celebrates the “ownership” of projects by individual architects, and aims to keep organizational structures flat....

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