A new name for architecture practice as business targets UK-wide expansion

Billy Duncan, Tim Blathwayt, Conor Pittman and Kenny McNally

AN Edinburgh-based employee-owned architecture practice is rebranding and targeting a period of growth as it eyes expansion throughout the UK.

Founded in 1994, AMA Studio (formerly Allan Murray Architects), has overseen high profile projects in Scotland’s capital including the £1 billion St James Quarter, New Waverley and the new Boroughmuir High School.

The practice became employee-owned in April 2020 and revealed it sees the rebrand as reflecting the ‘increased teamwork’ which has developed since then.

Following a ‘robust’ financial year given the challenging conditions of the pandemic, AMA Studio revealed it has an expected pipeline of projects spanning the length of the UK, from Aberdeen to Bristol and London.

MD Conor Pittman said, “The core of the business will always be in Edinburgh, working on the integration of contemporary design within a historic setting, for which we’ve become renowned. That work is now being recognised on a national level, which is helping us expand outward from our traditional ‘urbanist’ label and secure more varied work across the UK – in rural and urban areas and across leisure, office, retail and residential.

“Rebranding as AMA Studio reflects not only this change in direction for the company, but our more collaborative way of working since becoming employee owned. Our team has positively embraced employee ownership and continues to rise to the challenge, everyone is taking more responsibility than before.”

AMA Studio has secured a major residential contract in Glasgow as well as a rural project in the north of England. Director Kenny McNally continues to oversee the next phase of St James Quarter where the cinema, hotel, aparthotel and housing will join the retail offering.

AMA Studio added that it is also investing more into the practice and the development of its team, with a view to becoming ‘leaders’ in 3D visualisation and virtual reality.

Kenny McNally said, “We’ve been working in 3D since I joined the practice in 1997 and it was great to partner with virtual reality experts on the St James Quarter Masterplan, where the ability to show retailers what the scheme would look like was critical. Getting the capacity to deliver VR in-house and as standard on our projects is a major focus and something we’re looking to offer in the not-too-distant future.

“Likewise, our ambition is to become a leading practice in the delivery of net zero, sustainable buildings and spaces with a long-term view of minimising energy consumption. As a practice we are continuing Passivhaus staff training and exploring how our BIM expertise can enable us to continue to deliver high quality projects while reducing carbon emissions.”