Architecture is related on many levels with mathematics. Since the beginning of time, due to gravitation, heaviness, and the forces of nature, you cannot separate architecture and mathematics.

For Pythagoras, the ancient Greeks and Romans, but not only, and then in the Renaissance period, the pi number, the Fibonacci, etc., had mystical meaning, while the proportions of every element, and of the whole buildings that were built using them, had and still have a very grounded, serene presence, that instills equilibrium and peace to those who visit or inhabit those spaces. Nowadays, we are more concerned with the same mathematics, but in a totally different way. We should build the highest tower in the world, we should beat the record and have the longest indoor swimming pool ever built, we should have the biggest hand-made carpet ever and the list could go on. We are more concerned with quantity, rather than with quality. Our egos go higher than ever. Mathematics generates competition, frustration and restlessness nowadays, not equilibrium, as it used to, in Ancient Greece.

Mathematics of numbers nowadays generates inequality. People flock to visit a certain tower because it has the biggest/highest/most expensive …something. The salaries in the architecture industry are another subject, about which we could write and debate endlessly, and no one would settle about a conclusion.

As we are in the digital era, we want to go public with everything we do in our practice. If we don’t have an Instagram account, we don’t exist. Everything is about how many followers and how many likes we have. As if those numbers would demonstrate our capabilities and would be a testimonial for our success.

As tennis players count the number of trophies they receive, because they are rated and therefore they go up and down on that ranking, so do universities, professors and students alike. There are 4 indicators for universities, according to the site academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper, and H-index (which assesses the impact of a scholars’ or scientists’ published papers). Professors have to prove themselves in order to climb the hierarchical ladder; they have to get a certain score that is based on their academic achievements: participation in different academic activities, publishing articles and books and so on. Students are evaluated with grades and/or credits, depending on the university. All these rankings based on mathematics, statistics and numbers have their subjectivity, there are always good professors that don’t teach at the top universities in the world, there are always impressive students that come from universities that again don’t rank among the first.

According to QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019, the first 10 best Universities in the world in 2019 are:

  1. The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL (University College London) in the United Kingdom
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States
  3. Delft University of Technology / Netherlands
  4. ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Switzerland
  5. Harvard University in the United States
  6. The University of California, Berkeley (UCB) / United States
  7. University of Cambridge / United Kingdom
  8. The National University of Singapore (NUS) / Singapore
  9. Manchester School of Architecture / United Kingdom
  10. Tsinghua University / China

What architects are the most searched on the internet? The site Monograph wrote an article named Starchitect Rankings, to determine the relative popularity and brand value of starchitects, and they use the STAR™ (v0.2) model developed by an architectural data team from MIT.

What is the value of reputation?

Developed by the data team at Monograph, the STAR™ system looks at a series of variables to determine the relative popularity and value of an architect’s brand. Whether you’re a client looking to bring on a talented architect or a student building your education, the value of a starchitect’s brand in business and academia has been fairly opaque. The Starchitect ranking system is the beginning of a data-centric take on architectural brand value.

They take into account the monthly searches, whether the architects received or not the Pritzker prize, notable projects, ArchDaily project data, and of course the Instagram account. But what is interesting, is that they rank only single named architects, therefore, Herzog de Meuron, Allies, and Morrison or others won’t make it to the top, and hence, the ranking cannot be that accurate, yet.

  1. Zaha Hadid
  2. Norman Foster
  3. Le Corbusier
  4. BjarkeIngels
  5. Renzo Piano
  6. Frank Lloyd Wright
  7. Frank Gehry
  8. Rem Koolhaas
  9. Oscar Niemeyer
  10. I.M.Pei

Zaha Hadid is leading this ranking, with 402.1 points, with 2.4m monthly searches, and with 800k Instagram followers, even more honorable, as she is the only woman in this top. Furthermore, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright would be enormously proud to know they are still “trendy” and that their work is still considered inspirational, even in the era of 3d printing.

What are the companies with the biggest number of employees in the world?

The site has published the list with the world’s largest practices ranked by the number of fee-earning architects they employ. Here are the first 10 companies:

  1. Gensler from the United States, with 2627 architects employed
  2. Nikken Sekkei from Japan, with 1869 architects employed
  3. AECOM from the United States, with 1733 architects employed
  4. HDR from the United States, with 1491 architects employed
  5. Perkins+Will from the United States, with 1148 architects employed
  6. Sweco from Sweden, with 1100 architects employed
  7. IBI Group from Canada, with 862 architects employed
  8. HOK from the United States, with 811 architects employed
  9. Aedas from China, with 761 architects employed
  10. DP Architects from Singapore, with 761 architects employed

What is interesting is that 5 out of 10 are from the United States, 3 from Asia and only one from Europe, unexpectedly perhaps, from a small country.

It is worth mentioning that, on the contrary, there are successful architectural practices with very few employees, or sometimes just one, which has tremendous success. Interesting is the case of Glenn Murcutt (1936), from Australia, who even received the Pritzker Prize in 2002, who is a sole practitioner, and who collaborates with few architects when a project requires it.

Mathematical calculations and statistics can be relevant, sometimes to a bigger extent, other times to a lesser extent. They generate competition. Competition is good, it pushes us to strive for more, to extend our limits, to do better, but it depends on the person, because for some, this generates anxiety or even depression, and they are out of the game because of this. Sometimes it’s better to ignore the competition and to focus more on your strengths, on what you know to do better, and to give even better than you gave yesterday. Because the best competition is with yourself. You are your fiercest competitor. You are competing with the ‘you’ from yesterday. And by focusing more on the quality that you can bring to this world, you will be able to reach that state of wholeness and serenity, that’s contained in the golden number.


Ana Mirea is a Riba Part II Architectural Assistant and Ph.D. student, based in London. She has graduated from the “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, and now she undertakes a research based Ph.D. in the field of neuroarchitecture, with a thesis titled The Influence of the Built Environment from Childhood on the Brain.  

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