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Gerald Kaye: 'Architects must understand commerciality'

Former British Council for Offices chairman and current development director of Helical Bar Gerald Kaye talks to the AJ after a busy week

Where have you come from?
I started in the late 1970s at Knight Frank, where I got a taste for development and got to do it with John and Peter Beckwith at the London and Edinburgh Trust. I joined Helical Bar in 1994.

What have you currently got on the books?
We are hoping to start on the Sheppard Robson-designed One Mitre Square scheme in the New Year, having just completed the overhaul of 200 Aldersgate by Morey Smith [both in the City of London]. Last week we won a resolution to grant planning for the Barts Square scheme, coincidentally next to 200 Aldersgate and also by Sheppard Robson. And on Monday we exchanged contracts on 207-211 Old Street [described by Pevsner as an inhumanly-scaled monster]. AHMM will oversee the refurbishment and remodelling.

Are you looking for architects for any schemes?
There are three or four buildings at Barts Square where we will want an architect to look at the residential elevations. We prefer to select through closed competitions, asking three or four to pitch with their designs for a particular site, but we would have checked them all out in advance.

Planning permission was granted for Sheppard Robson’s £180 million mixed-use Barts Square development in central London earlier this month (November 2012)

Planning permission was granted for Sheppard Robson’s £180 million mixed-use Barts Square development in central London earlier this month (November 2012)

What do architects need to do to impress you?
Some architects still do what they want to do, rather than what the client wants to do. Architects need to understand the commerciality of what we are trying to achieve.

What are the current challenges facing yourselves?
A few years ago it was far too easy to develop property, with banks spraying money at all and sundry. Now it is the opposite. To get schemes off the ground you have to have a robust business plan and a good relationship with the banks. Planning gets more difficult by the day. Though the government is making all the right noises about easing the system, they don’t seem to be reflected in reality. Developers need early certainty. There are still far too many things required in a planning application. When I first started you could put a red line on a plan and get outline planning consent.

What regeneration project inspires you the most?
Canary Wharf. It is the finest development of its type and has been built to a very high standard. The public realm is first class. It shows what can be achieved with cohesive thinking across a large number of different buildings.

Who is your favourite architect?
The timeless ones – such as Lutyens

What regeneration project inspires you the most?
Canary Wharf. It is the finest development of its type and has been built to a very high standard/ The public realm is first class. It shows what can be achieved with cohesive thinking across a large number of different buildings.

 

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