An Arup Greeting

Of all the kind holiday greetings that flooded our inbox this year, this one was the most wonderful by far. In its 64 year-long history, the engineering and design consultancy Arup has been involved in creating some of the most iconic buildings and infrastructure in the world. But it has often had to play second fiddle to attention-seeking starchitects. So the firm decided to send us a little reminder that Norman Foster’s 30 St. Mary Axe building (the Gherkin), Herzog & de Mueron’s Beijing National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) or even Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House couldn’t have realized their fantastic shapes without a little behind-the-scenes help from Arup.

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Point taken. Arup is remarkable not just for the enormous quantity of game-changing work it produces each year, but also for how it works as a consultancy. The firm is a fully independent entity: no shareholders to pacify, no investors to be beholden to. Instead, it is owned in trust for the benefit of its employees, who each receive a share of the firm’s profit every year. The organization is held together by its commitment to quality – and to design. Arup puts out an annual Design Yearbook — a portfolio of the fantastic projects it has been involved in through the year. Past issues are available for free download, but for a real architectural treat, we suggest you go check out their just-published 2010 yearbook here.

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