The LFA is the world’s largest annual architectural festival – running each year from 1st to 30th June – with a programme this year of more than 450 public events run by over 260 organisations and individuals – engaging in one way or another with an audience of over 400,000 people.
At its most basic level, the identity of any world city like London is instantly recognisable by the silhouette of its architecture. From Sydney’s Opera House to New York’s Empire State Building, we recognise and identify our cities by their buildings.
Of course, identity and architecture are much more closely entwined than the look of our cities. The identity and cultural background of any architect has a profound influence on the architecture they create.
Our guest this week is the architect Jennifer Dixon, Architecture Leader for the global architecture and engineering firm AECOM in the firm’s EMIA region – Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, where she leads a multi-national team of over 500 architects.
AECOM provides design, consulting, construction, and management services to a wide range of clients around the world. The firm traces its roots back to the 1920s in Kentucky as the Ashland Oil and Refining Company. From where the company grew into one of America’s largest road construction firms – using the by-products of oil refining to produce bitumen. The company went on to become one of the pioneering integrated construction, engineering and architectural firms in the US.
In the late 1980s a change in corporate strategy led to the spinoff of the of the non-oil side of the business that would become AECOM. In 1990 the company changed its name to the AECOM Technology Corporation – with the acronym standing for Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Maintenance. AECOM became a publicly traded company in 2007 and now has annual revenues of over $18 billion and nearly 90,000 employees around the world. More recently the firm acquired consulting engineers Faber Maunsel and quantity surveyors Davis Langdon.
Jennifer joined AECOM in 2013 to grow the organisation’s architecture business in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa which was then relatively small – at least compared with the firm’s architecture businesses in its other regions.
Jennifer originally studied architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow and at the University of Westminster in London. She subsequently founded Dixon Hughes architects with her partner David Hughes, with the practice later merging with Austin-Smith:Lord where she worked extensively in the Middle East.
Our guest this week is the designer Steven Charlton. In 2008 – in the midst of the global financial crisis – Steven launched the Middle East office of Pringle Brandon, the architecture and corporate interiors firm founded in London by Chris Brandon and former RIBA President Jack Pringle.
Pringle Brandon subsequently merged with America’s third-largest architecture firm Perkins+Will in 2012 – with the London and Dubai offices becoming known initially as Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will, and later simply Perkins+Will. Steven grew the Dubai office from two people to over 100 members of staff.
In November 2017 Steven returned to London to become Managing Principal of Perkins+Will’s now 130-strong London office with the clear aim of repeating his success in Dubai and growing the architecture side of the business.
In this week’s episode we about talk the names of architecture firms and the legacy of their founders. We talk about how things change when you double the size of your office, then double again.
We talk about corporate interiors and large scale architecture. And we also hear about Perkins+Will’s latest acquisition of the Danish architecture firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen.
Our guest this week is the architect John McAslan.
John was born Glasgow and later studied architecture at Edinburgh University before following his father to the United States where he worked for architecture firms in Baltimore, Maryland and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He returned to London in 1980 to take up a job at Richard Rogers’ practice. Four years later he and then colleague Jamie Troughton left to start their own firm, Troughton McAslan. Following Jamie’s return to Scotland, in 1996 John went on to found John McAslan and Partners – as the practice is known today
The practice has delivered a huge body of critically acclaimed work around the world. And was recently longlisted with Triad Architects for the RIBA’s International Prize for Kericho Cathedral in Kenya.
Our guest this week is the architect Rashid Ali. Rashid grew up in Hargeisa in Northern Somalia and then in Manchester in Northern England. He went on to study architecture at Greenwich University and Bartlett School of Architecture, as well as City Design at the LSE. He subsequently worked for Karakusevic Carson Architects – and then at Adjaye Associates – the practice which had been recently founded by David Adjaye – where he worked on a number of high profile projects including the Stirling Prize nominated Idea Store Library in London and the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Denver.
After five years at Adjaye Associates he left to pursue a number of other projects including teaching, research, architecture and urbanism – all encompassed by his practice, RA Projects.
The practice – now know as Rashid Ali Archiects – works on a range of scales and typologies, from one-off houses to cultural centres and exhibition design – and also research work in London, Somalia and across Africa.
Rashid was shortlisted for the Young Architect of the Year Award in 2008 and again 2011. In this week’s episode we discuss the practice’s work on Fin House in London for fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic; we talk about the difficulties and benefits of balancing teaching with practice, as well as the practice’s increasing range of work back in Hergesia in Somalia and across Africa.
Ben Derbyshire was elected by the Institute’s 44,000 strong membership in August 2016 on a platform calling for change – both in the institute and across the profession. After a year serving as president-elect, he succeeded Jane Duncan as President in September 2017.
Ben’s career in practice started in 1973 when he joined Hunt Thompson Associates as a year out student. After returning to university to complete his Masters Degree, he came back to the practice permanently in 1976 and stayed ever since, rising to become managing director and now chair of the practice.
The practice, now known as HTA Design is perhaps best known for its award-winning housing, residential and regeneration work.
Our guest this week made a name for himself working under someone else’s name. For nearly 30 years Ken Shuttleworth worked at Foster & Partners where he led on the design and delivery of such acclaimed buildings as the HSBC Bank in Hong Kong, as well as both 30 St Mary’s Axe – better known as the Gherkin – and City Hall in London.
In 2004 he decided to make a break and leave Foster & Partners. After mulling over a flurry of other job offers he eventually decided to start his own practice. Or rather to start his employees’ own practice. The practice he founded was setup as an employee-owned business – similar to the John Lewis Partnership chain of department stores in the UK – where the shares are held in trust for the benefit of the employees.
Ken continues to make a name for himself – though again still not under his own name. Make Architects, the practice he founded, now employs over 160 people from their offices in London as well as Hong Kong and Sydney. They have produced a huge legacy of buildings ranging for the Copper Box arena for the London 2012 Olympics – to Rathbone Square a vast new development of residential, office, retail and public space in the heart of Fitzrovia.
Our guest this week has led something of a peripatetic life. Born to an Austrian father and a German mother, Christina Seilern grew up in Switzerland before moving to the United States with the intention of studying biology at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. But she soon dropped biology and switched direction to study architecture at MIT and then at Columbia University in New York.
After working for a number of smaller practices, in 1997 she took on a junior job in the model shop at Rafael Vinoly Architects where she rose quickly through the ranks, going on to become a Director – working on major projects including Princeton University.
In 2000 she relocated to London where she was charged with opening Vinoly’s new European Office, steadily growing the office over five years from just her, to a staff of more than 50.
Christina won and oversaw a number of major jobs for the practice including the Curve Theatre in Leicester and 20 Fenchurch Street – better known as the Walkie Talkie – in London.
In 2005 Christina left Rafael Vinoly to setup her own practice as Studio Seilern Architects. For this week’s episode we join Christina in her practice’s light filled offices in West London.
On the programme this week is the architect Tatiana von Preussen. Tatiana originally studied architecture at Cambridge University in the UK. After a year out working for the architecture firm Stanton Williams, she moved to New York to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture to complete her Masters.
In 2009, amongst the turmoil of the Global Financial Crisis that was decimating the construction industry, Tatiana returned to the UK with Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds to setup their own practice vPPR architects.
The practice shot to public attention for one of their first building the multi-awarding winning housing project Ott’s Yard in Tufnell Park, north London – a complex and overlooked infill site where the practice also acted as developer.
Tatiana and her two co-directors have gone on to win numerous awards, including the RIBA London Emerging Architect of the Year Award in 2015 – and were shortlisted the same year for the RIBA House of the Year.
On the programme this week is the architect Annalie Riches – one half of the multi-award winning architecture firm Mikhail Riches.
The practice, founded by Annalie and her partner David Mikhail – are known for their considerable track record of beautifully considered housing developments.
Annalie originally studied architecture at Sheffield University before moving to Paris where she found work at RFR, the architecture and engineering practice founded by Peter Rice, Martin Francis and Ian Richie.
In 1998 Annalie and two friends Silvia Ullmayer and Barti Garibaldo bought a plot of land and designed and largely self-built their own housing development at Whatcott’s Yard – the site of former garages in North London. The scheme went on to win an RIBA Award and the Architects’ Journal First Building Award.
In 2013, Mikhail Riches won the RIBA’s Award for London Building of the Year for Church Walk in London, where the practice had also acted as client and developer.
In this week’s episode, we talk about learning and working in a foreign language. We find out the challenges and rewards of architects working as developers. And we hear about the practice’s plans for the renovation of the Brutalist Park Hill estate in Sheffield.