The Irish Times - Thursday, August 25, 2011HKR Architects in move to London
IRISH FIRM HKR Architects, once one of the biggest architecture firms in the State, is restructuring its business and moving its headquarters to London.
The company, which employs 15 people in Dublin, will retain a small branch office in Blackrock, Co Dublin, to service existing Irish clients and support its growing UK operations.
The company’s 10 permanent staff members have been offered contracts with HKR’s London office, but will remain working in the Dublin office. Five temporary staff were given notice by the company this week.
Jerry Ryan, founder and chief executive of the company, said the restructuring of the business “reflects our UK and international focus”.
The company has recently been awarded three high-profile contracts in London: the design of a 23-storey five-star hotel; a mixed-use student-housing project in Aldgate, east London; and a 300,000sq ft office development in London’s financial district.
At the height of the Irish economic boom, HKR employed more than 200 people in Ireland. It worked on a number of high-profile projects including the refurbishment of the Shelbourne Hotel, the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford, which has since entered receivership, Charlestown shopping centre in north Dublin, and a number of commercial buildings in Dublin’s docklands.
In recent years it has been the main architectural partner for a number of ill-fated projects, including Seán Dunne’s controversial proposal for the redevelopment of the Jurys site in Dublin’s Ballsbridge and the planned redevelopment of Arnotts and surrounding areas, again in Dublin.
HKR was founded in 1992 by architects Tony Horan, John Keogan and Jerry Ryan. In the mid-2000s it moved its focus from residential to large-scale commercial property projects.
In recent years it has been expanding into the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Last year it won a contract to design an international airport in Jordan.
The company employs 40 people in its Abu Dhabi office, 15 in Prague and 35 in its London office. Last October it said it would close its Manchester office and expand its office in London.
The architecture profession has been one of the major casualties of the recession, as a result of the collapse of the construction boom and the slowdown in public-sector contracts.