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Q&A: Mark Whitby - Whitby Bird

When and where were you born?

Ealing,1950.

What is your favourite building and why?

A primitive fisherman's cottage in Pembrokeshire.As a kid I spent three weeks every Easter and six weeks every summer there. It was magical, off the beaten track and by the sea.

What is your favourite restaurant/meal?

Onion soup, homegrown and homemade, or funghi at Passione in Charlotte Street.

What vehicle(s) do you own?

A broken-down 1963 Morris 1000, a Ford Galaxy and four bicycles, three of which predate the Morris and are in a similar condition.

What is your favourite film?

Tootsie.

What is your favourite book?

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, which is a must for anybody who gets their hands dirty.

What is your favourite design classic?

Cox's Orange Pippin ; and the Messerschmitt 109E.

What is the worst building that you have ever seen and why?

The Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower, funded with £14 million of Lottery money and totally unsustainable.

Who or what is your biggest architectural influence and why?

My father (McMorran & Whitby).We grew up discussing architecture and took it totally for granted.

Who is the most talented engineer you have worked with?

Tony Hunt.He showed me that engineering design is not all about reality; it is also about dreams.

If you were not an engineer, what would you have been?

A sculptor.Before I plumped for engineering I was offered a place at Hornsey, and I often consider how my life might have been.

What would your advice be to architectural students?

God is in the detail.

What would your motto be?

Farm as if you live for ever, live as if you die tomorrow.

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