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Part 2: RIBA London and Central St Martins student mentoring scheme

The second of three blogs from students on RIBA London’s mentoring scheme

RIBA London introduced a mentoring scheme in partnership with Central St Martins back in November 2012. The scheme sees Central St Martins students in the final year of their part one matched up in pairs with architect mentors, offering an insight into practice life.

The second student in our series of blogs, Benjamin Peach, mentored by Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, recalls his experience:

During the time that I was shadowing Swanke Hayden Connell the primary project under construction was a hundred million pound office/retail development situated in close proximity to London Victoria station. The project was at its later stages of structural completion which gave me an opportunity to see the inner workings during a site visit. It was in fact this visit that I enjoyed the most on the RIBA London mentoring scheme – it was a privilege to see behind the scenes of a large scale building. The visit also helped me understand the close relationship that architects must maintain with the building contractor on a project such as this one. 

Alongside shadowing live projects I have also been in for meetings at the architect’s office. Through both set of experiences I have realised the separation from studying architecture and the profession itself, but also the parallels. While visiting the practice I was able to see many of the promotional documents made in preparation for the build. It was here that I could relate my own student work to documents created in an architectural office.

Swanke Hayden Connell Architects have offices both around the UK but also throughout the world. I have therefore been aware of the fact that I have been linked to a practice at the far end of the spectrum in terms of scale. This has enabled me to have a better understanding of how an architect’s role can change depending upon the size of the practice. I now feel better prepared for approaching practices and look forward to my year out.

The architect’s view

Gordon McQuade, director of commercial architecture, Swanke Hayden Connell

As a mentor, I hope I have helped the students to develop a clearer understanding of how to present and package design material for construction and how design information manifests into physical form.

I also hope I have successfully communicated the importance of teamwork, including the contribution of the contractor in delivering a successful end product. The mentoring process has enabled me to look at communicating the design process from a different perspective and it was both interesting and refreshing to engage with students undertaking a similar journey to the one I took myself a number of years ago.

Both students that I mentored asked intelligent questions about the design process in an office environment and I believe the opportunity to view a project on site was beneficial, if not invaluable, to the mentoring experience.

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