Architects Journal Summit 2019

This year the AJ put together its first Summit; the theme was ‘collaborate to create’ and it was a day filled with keynote speakers, panel discussions and case studies with the aim of exploring the relationship between architects, clients and their project partners.

All the talks were great, and the theme was maintained throughout the day, but if I’m honest I was left wanting more. It’s great to hear about other projects – especially the really big projects that you only get to read about – but there was a bit too much ‘show and tell’ and not enough time for questions. It would have been good to get into the nuts and bolts of what happened and how, what would they have done differently and why, what worked and what didn’t…

I would have also liked interactive sessions for the audience to work together and explore what collaboration means, what’s missing, how it can and should be done. This would have encouraged some meaningful networking between delegates rather than the usual “Hi I’m… I work at…, where are you from?” conversations.

Will I go again? Maybe, if it’s a bit more interactive. If not, I’ll just keep reading the AJ. Thanks to U+I for hosting the event – it’s a great space!

Here are some of my highlights from the 2019 summit:

“Why we need a shared vision to effect real change”

The first keynote session was an insightful talk by Patricia Brown, Hon FRIBA. Patricia is Director of Central, a consultancy that helps business and civic leaders create thriving places.

She talked about how her team transformed London and secured buy-in for seemingly impossible tasks. One take-home message was if you’re having a meeting and can’t offer anything to get the job done, at least have nice biscuits!! Patricia also expanded on her vision of London 3.0 based on her experience and lessons learned over the last 20 years.

“Why diversity is key to the future of construction”

Another memorable speaker was Roma Agrawal, Associate Director & Author, AECOM. Her passion and knowledge is amazing. Our industry still has a very small amount of diversity compared to others, and we need to break this mould. I loved her analogy of me, a typical white male, walking into a meeting with 12 Indian women and having to convince them that I am the right person for the job. That got me to see things from her perspective! She also spoke about privilege, education and how these things affect us all sometimes without us realising; as hard as it is, there is no reason we shouldn’t live in an equitable world.

“Post-construction and POE”

The panel discussions then came quick and fast, exploring what clients want. The one about post occupancy evaluation (POE) was a personal favourite, with the effervescent Roger Zogolovitch, Chairman & Creative Director, Solidspace, taking part.

He is such a good storyteller, engaging the audience and asking the difficult questions, one of which only Cityzen (out of the whole room) could say yes to… but then I am a bit of an interloper with a building services background!

“No time to waste – why the industry must pull together for a more sustainable future”

Sustainability is a topic close to Cityzen’s heart, so it was another panel discussion that stood out for me. Taking part were:

  • Emily Hamilton, Senior Sustainability Manager, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
  • Clara Bagenal George, Senior Engineer, Elementa Consulting
  • Alex de Rijke, Director, dRMM

Clara’s eloquent knowledge and handle of facts was great to hear and, at the same time, slightly depressing. With our 2030 carbon neutral targets looming, when it comes to larger projects the length of time it can take to get to site (i.e. design time) and length of time to build means we need to be designing carbon-neutral now! However, the technology, will and legislation aren’t in place, so it’s up to all of us to push this forward. I’m afraid Alex de Rijke was not on board with the numbers and wanted a softer approach, which is admirable but judging your audience is everything.

Case Studies

The afternoon’s “How did they do it?” case study sessions were run concurrently across two stages, presenting some of the UK’s most innovative schemes and explaining what led to their success. I flipped between them learning more about the following projects:

Croydon Housing Development

Colm Lacey, Chief Executive, Brick By Brick
Chloe Phelps, Head of Design, Brick by Brick & Common Ground Architecture
Luke Tozer, Director, Pitman Tozer Architects
Sally Lewis, Director, Stitch Architects

City of Glasgow Riverside Campus

Lyle Chrystie, Director, Reiach and Hall Architects
Martyn Bentley, Education Framework Manager, Sir Robert Alpine
Janis Carson, Former Vice Principal, City of College Glasgow

Preston Barracks

Sarah Chitty, Senior Development Manager, U+I
Melanie Hickford, Project Manager, Business Development, U+I

The Bloomberg Building

Alison Cox, Project Director, Sir Robert McAlpine
Helen Chiles, COO, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Kate Murphy, Partner & Architect, Foster + Partners

Victoria Gate

Robin Dobson, Director – Retail Development, Hammerson
Friedrich Ludewig, Founding Director, ACME

Photos of the day are available online here.

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