simon Allford, partner, AHMM

Simon Allford large 

                                                               (Above: Simon Allford, co-founder and partner of acclaimed architects AHMM. Image ©Devin Blair.)

Started by its eponymous founders in 1989, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), is known for producing aesthetically desirable yet functional buildings that attract clients and awards jurors alike.

The firm, which has offices in London, Bristol and Oklahoma City describes its approach as a “pragmatic, analytical and open working method” that designs “very different buildings for very different people to use in very different ways.” Innovation at the firm is “as much about finding simpler ways of doing things better as it is about finding new things to do.”

This way of working has been applied from landmark new buildings to sympathetically-designed schools, galleries and acclaimed urban developments in both the UK and the US.

Expanding from the UK, the firm has completed projects in Spain and Ghana as well as a number of sites in Oklahoma. AHMM also exhibited at the 2014 Biennale Architettura in Venice as part of 'Time Space Existence' at Palazzo Bembo.

The firm’s work has attracted international praise. The Chicago Atheneum recently selected the firm’s AEP Fitness Centre, which extended an unused basement in Oklahoma City into a sports and leisure hub, for an American Architectural Award.

AHMM’s design for Burntwood School in south west London won the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building, and the company was named the Architectural Practice of the Year in 2013.

The boxing-loving Allford (below) is arguably the most high profile of the firm’s four founders, as chairman of the Architecture Foundation, as well as being a trustee of the Architecture Association Foundation and a visiting professor at The Bartlett and GSD Harvard.

He told the Architects Journal: “I believe my psychological welfare is dependent on my twice-weekly 7am (boxing) sessions. Three-minute rounds are liberally interspersed by a harsh regime of skipping and press-ups. I resent the punishment but never the extraordinary focus of the ‘ring’, which provides me with the great escape from architecture.”

He has worked on projects as wide-ranging as the Chobham Academy on the London Olympic site, the Angel building in north London, three major mixed use projects on Regent Street, and a new University Campus in Amsterdam.

Allford’s essay, ‘ExtraOrdinary’, argued that "it is in the field of everyday building that modern architecture has failed the city."

Allford sees one common thread connecting AHMM projects ‘is about making the readymade bespoke’ which creates generic spaces (the readymade) that are specific (the bespoke) to their particular needs at their particular moment.

More on AHMM here.