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News review: how the profession saw 2010

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Was 2010 a good year for you? The industry tells the AJ about the highs and lows of the last 12 months

Gareth Hoskins of Hoskins Architects
It was the same old, same old story in 2010 of architects shooting themselves in the foot as a profession through the continuing trend of suicidal fee bidding as a result of the economic climate. Come on RIBA,time to start naming and shaming and for once pulling together as an effective voice on the appropriate cost and value of good design.
Favourite Building of 2010:Thomas Heatherwick’s Shanghai seed cathedral for its sheer beauty, presence and confidence.

Hank Dittmarr, chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation
The sheer pace of change has been the story of 2010. The real low point for us was having to reduce the size of the Foundation’s team in response to the recession. However the highlight has been seeing a number of our eco-town projects get planning permission.
Favourite building of 2010: The Gordon Park Shelter in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, designed with the community by our graduates and apprentices and built by our crafts apprentices with local stone and timber.

Glenn Howells of Glenn Howells Architects
Looking back over 2010 I can’t think of a year where we have worked harder, in many cases running to remain stationary. We’ve been working on many projects to get them to be viable in the face of reduced confidence and funding, while the new work we have won has infilled the gap left by delayed or cancelled projects.
Favourite building of 2010: Borer and Lea’s Wales Institute for Sustainable Education, CAT. An understated, crafted approach to low carbon construction so often overstated in ‘sustainable’ architecture. 

Patrick Theis of Theis and Khan Architects
The story of the year for us personally has to be the Stirling shortlist and the surrounding debate. What began as an intensely private project became subject to very public scrutiny. It’s been fascinating and stimulating and a wonderful counterpoint to the daily struggle of small business survival. In January we were down to the bare bones due to projects being put on hold – over one week we received no emails or phone calls and really wondered how long we could survive. We were first cheered up by a mention for our entry in the AJ small projects awards then things really kicked off.
Favourite building of 2010: Of the buildings I’ve seen, Chipperfield’s Neues was by far the most impressive. Also liked the look of Nords’ Olympic substation and hope to get to see it.

Adam Clark of Halliday Clark
2010 was like swimming through treacle. Getting a commitment from clients to definitive timescales has proved even harder this year and the low point came when our Bradford BSF was shelved. The highlight was when planning officers stood up for one of our country house projects in green belt, heralding it as a fine example of modernist architecture. I must have been dreaming.
Favourite Building of 2010: Jean Nouvel’s One New Change.The way natural light penetrates such a deep plan with careful use of polished and reflective surfaces is extremely clever.

Craig Casci of GRID Architects

The story of this year has to be the election and the coalition, as well as the aftermath: the admission of gloom by some; and blind denial of others. Closer to home the Davis Langdon ‘merger‘ is interesting; where big companies eat other big companies until one day huge industry monsters will be left to fight over a sole practitioner from Inverness.
The highlight: starting GRID Architects. The lowlights: watching practices undercutting each other to survive. It is sad as some of them should know better.
Favourite building of 2010: Hafencity in Hamburg for its brave masterplan, practical solutions and public realm.  For an implemented masterplan it manages, almost, to avoid being a zoo.

Ed Vaizey, Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries
My story of the year was the coalition winning the election, as I became a Government minister. The highlight: becoming minister for architecture. The lowlight: it was only for 24 hours.
Favourite building of 2010: Can I have Thomas Heatherwick’s UK Pavilion?

Christina Seilern, principal of Studio Seilern  
2010 was the year of the woman - women getting recognised through the sheer strength of their work.  The Biennale [curated by Kazumo Sejima of Sanaa and Muf’s British Pavilion ], the Stirling Prize [Zaha Hadid], the Pritzker Prize [Sejima again]. The low point was losing work, which is always a great dampener.
Favourite building of 2010: David Chipperfield’s Neues Museum an inspiration in a conservation architecture that does not rely on mimicry and imitation

Alan Dunlop of Alan Dunlop Architects
The highlight of 2010 was establishing my own studio and realising I was the happiest I’d been in 15 years. The lows were being stranded in Seattle for ten days due to the volcano in Iceland and Steven Holl’s recent planning submission for the Glasgow School of Art.
Favourite Building of 2010: David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap’s Neues Museum in Berlin. A beautiful, considered and sensitive example of architectural restraint, understanding of context and craftsmanship.

James Pickard of Cartwright Pickard Architects 

Even with Gordon Browns stimulus measures 2010 has been tough for us with turnover falling around 20 per cent. The New Government cutbacks that have just been announced will lead to around a 30 per cent reduction in public sector construction. Next year is therefore set to be even tougher for us than 2010. International work is now a must. The highlight was winning planning permission and the go ahead to build two new large civic office projects.  
Favourite building of 2010: Thomas Heatherwick’s British Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo was a stunning and beautiful idea

Jim MacDonald, chief executive of A+DS
The decision to withdraw funding from CABE was the story of 2010. I’d only been with A+DS for a month when the CSR signalled the collapse of our sister outfit and there was a lot of speculation we might follow. Thankfully, the Scottish Government sees real value in effective placemaking and remains committed to supporting our work . 
Favourite building of 2010:  The Shettleston Housing Association’s new offices in Glasgow where Elder and Cannon have taken a important historic building and by adding a distinct but sensitive new element created something of real stature. 

Ruth Reed, RIBA president
2010 saw the election of first coalition government for 70 years, an extraordinary alliance of a Tory party with an idealistic agenda of localism based on their observations of the aspirations of their constituencies in the shires and market towns and a pragmatic Liberal Democrat centre party that knows from a long-time electioneering in marginal seat in the shires but also in the inner cities that voter confidence is based on single, simple issues. The effect of this new agenda on architecture and the built environment will be deep and long lasting. The collaborative, consultative approach has turned its back on the expert Quangos and looks to the community for answers and that community includes the professions. The opportunity to influence the detail of policy has never been greater and has made the latter part of 2010 the most exciting and demanding months of my presidency so far.
Favourite building(s) of 2010: Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI in Rome and dRMM’s Clapham Manor Primary School

John McRae at ORMS
I’ll remember 2010 for the phrase ‘I want us to become the L’Oreal profession’. This was a timely reminder from RIBA chief executive  Harry Rich that the profession must understand and demonstrate its value because we are ‘worth it’! Our own highlight was winning awards for our ‘landmark healthcare project’ the Skypad Cardiff. The lowpoint has been witnessing ever diminishing fee levels across all sectors; the profession must act now.
Favourite building of 2010 : The big, hairy fluffy thing i.e. UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo by Heatherwick Studio

David Kohn of David Kohn Architects
The story of the year has been the cutting of state funding for university education in the UK. Fourteen years ago I studied in the States where most students were paying $20,000 a year for the privilege. The UK is heading towards similar fee and debt levels in the future. The experience made me realise the benefits of giving young people the space to think critically about the society they are part of free from the fear of crushing debt.
Favourite building of 2010: Villa Voka, Kortrijk, Belgium designed by OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen. The fine glass prism of the Villa rises straight out of the sloping ground implying that the building preceded the landscape’s arrival.

Clive Dutton, executive director for regeneration, planning and property at Newham council
The story of the year was the launch of the “Meanwhile London” initiative in the Royal Docks.
Favourite building of 2010: Thomas Heatherwick’s Shanghai 2010 Expo pavilion – he is a genius.

Emmet O’Sullivan of AuStudio
The highlight of 2010 was being stranded in Tripoli during the ash cloud in April, along with two colleagues - I hopped on a flight to Malta and had a few days in the fascinating city of Valetta. Our stay coincided with a papal visit. Then it was a matter of planes, hire cars, trains and a ferry via Barcelona, Paris, Dieppe and Brighton to be back at my desk on Monday morning.
Favourite building of 2010: TAKA’s house and mews in Dublin. Such ingenuity in these austere times shows great poise for a young practice.


Amin Taha of Amin Taha Architects
The scrapping of CABE in October was the biggest story - it reflected a retrenched state, abandoning ideals to flaunt its frugality; the desperate taking counsel from the greedy.
Favourite building of 2010:  Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI – having worked on it eight years ago it’s good to see both the city’s perseverance and the practices determination and rigour come to fruition.


Pippa Nissen of Pippa Nissen Studio
The big news story this year has to be the change of Government and the various cuts including to arts funding. The different political climate has impacted on everybody’s lives. 2010 has been a very significant year for me professionally as I set up my own company. Although tough at first with all the admin of a new company, the result has been amazing, much more aligned to what I want to do, and the kinds of projects that I want to work on.
Favourite Building of 2010: Theis and Khan Architects building on Bateman’s Row. As I walk past it every day between my daughters’ school and work it reminds me that good design can spring up in unexpected places.


Peter Buchan, chief executive Ryder Architecture
The highlight for me was my daughter getting the lead role in her school play - there hasn’t been too much good news around - and winning our first major projects in central London which was a complete surprise.  We’ve obviously made it. The low point was the general election result.
Favourite Building of 2010: Our own Newcastle City Library because it was a welcome move into cultural buildings and a hugely enjoyable project. And Chipperfield’s Neues Museum – a masterful fusion of new and old and clearly a labour of love.


Chris Romer Lee of Studio Octopi
The low point of 2010 was the Baby Gaggia [coffee machine] breaking. A highlight was joining Twitter, promptly followed by getting a new project from one of my tweets and thus proving to the studio that tweeting is in fact work not just following the twitterati.
Favourite Building of 2010: Was undoubtedly our Park Avenue South, house extension in north London.


David Partridge, joint chief executive of Argent Estates
The election of the Coalition Government and the Comprehensive Spending Review has to be the most important event, not just of 2010, but of the decade.  It will have a far reaching impact on all aspects of the built environment – planning, regional development, the provision of housing, schools and the government estate, to name but a few. My highlight of the year was the completion of our deal with BNP Paribas Real Estate  at King’s Cross Central, which will result in a new 350,000 sq ft office building right next to St Pancras International Station. It’s been a great announcement to make towards the end of 2010 – it’s just a shame we’ll have to wait until the New Year until we announce the other deals going through.
Favourite Building of 2010: The Hive in Manchester – designed by the team from HKR who are now 5plus and developed by Argent.  

Gordon Carey of Careyjones Chapmantolcher
The story of the year was Anne Widdecombe’s run in Strictly Come Dancing. It shows how mischievous the British Public can be. Being a triple winner at the RIBA Awards was highlight. A low point was saying aurevoir to some old friends.
Favourite Building of 2010:Broadcasting Place by Feilden Clegg Bradley and our Granary Wharf  Candle tower. Both built in Leeds, my City of birth. Both different – the first being very sculptural and the second very contextual.

Lindsay Urquhart of Bespoke careers

The story of the year was the Royal wedding of course. In the world of architectural recruitment the biggest news would unfortunately have to be our competitors Adrem going into liquidation in January followed by SIV in November. But 2010 had been good for us all things considered and final quarter was up 100 per cent on last year.
Favourite Building of 2010: It’s nowhere near complete but I’ve loved watching The Shard going up on my doorstep in London Bridge.


Mark Taylor, development director at Renewal
The story of 2010 was seeing the first shoots of recovery after the recession, contractors completing buildings and the Shard changing the London skyline
Favourite Building of 2010:Broadcasting Place, Leeds by Feilden Clegg Bradley. At the Leeds Architecture Awards, the judges described it as ‘architecture with a capital A’.


Honor Massarella, development Director at Igloo Regeneration
My highlight is starting on site on our BBC’s Drama Production Village and the Welsh Assembly’s Digital Media Centre at Porth Teigr in Cardiff Bay.
My personal low point of this year was when it was announced that people could no longer walk on the Ai Weiwei sunflower seeds exhibition in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern.  Ai Weiwei’s 100million hand made porcelain sunflower seeds are just stunning and gorgeous and fabulous to look at, but to actually scrunch through them or pick them up to let them fall through your fingers was mind blowing!
Favourite building of 2010: My latest crush is on the spacious courtyard at the heart of the Royal Veterinary College in London designed by Architecture PLB


Ron Bakker, partner at PLP Architecture

2010 was terrific. It was rewarding to see the work of those at PLP received so enthusiastically within the architectural community. It was also great, in these troubled times, to get Deloitte’s Amsterdam Headquarters underway. However I didn’t enjoy watching Holland try to win a World Cup without concentrating on beautiful football.
Favourite Building of 2010: Spence Associates’ Infinity Bridge in Stockton. It reminds me of skipping pebbles on the water as a child.

Richard Jones, managing partner at construction consultants Jackson Coles
Davis Langdon’s loss of independence was the story of 2010; the choice between boutique consultancies and the large corporate offer has never been clearer
For us a highlight was re-recruiting some of the people we’d had to let go in the downturn. For supporters of Middlesbrough FC, the whole of 2010 has been a low point I’m afraid.
Favourite building of 2010: Carmody Groarke’s pop-up restaurant Studio East at Stratford was a really special place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with family & friends.


Hilary Satchwell, architect and director of Tibbalds
My story of the year has been the BSF schools funding fiasco and the impact of a new ideology on real people who had already been planning much needed improvements to their schools. Although the BSF programme has some very good aspects, it certainly also had its problems. As a story it had it all - high profile mistakes, controversy, accusations, and a real impact on people’s day to day lives.

Favourite building of 2010: Although it’s only just topped out, my favourite building is already the Shard for its sheer audacity and frankly for the technological and construction achievement of building such a difficult thing in such a small space.


Mushtaq Saleri, co-Director Studio Three Architects
Raising tuition fees will of course directly affect architecture students more than any other – they spend such a long time on the course and invest proportionally more of what little they have left on materials and presentations. Just when we thought we’d got somewhere in trying to make our profession become more representative of society – will this setback mean we are going to be discussing the white male middle class domination of architecture for generations to come?
Favourite building of 2010: MVRDV’s (and Mole Architects) Balancing Barn in Suffolk. It is a bit of a show pony, but it’s been a long time since I’ve managed to sufficiently interest non-architects in a new building. My mum read the AJ that week.


Sarah Williams, director at Aedas
The Story of the year for me has to be the value of design in schools and the role architects have played as espoused by Toby Young and Michael Gove. As an architect who has worked tirelessly in this sector and has seen first hand the benefits school design can have for pupils, teachers and the community, it is extremely frustrating that even now so little is understood about the benefits of good design in schools.
Favourite building of 2010: The Neues museum by David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap. It’s a masterclass in renovation, sensitivity and integration. A real beauty.


Chris Littlemore, chief executive of Archial
The low point was spending a, thankfully short, period of five days in September with our business in administration, despite fine creative talent and amazing hard work from all in our business to prevent it.  
The highlight was the purchase in September of the majority of our UK assets by the privately held Canadian business, The Ingenium Group. By combining forces with The Ingenium Group, we join a global company that shares our passion and expertise in both design and project management. We have been through a difficult process but we have come through rapidly, stronger and in better shape to move forward as part of a larger, more stable organisation.
Favourite building of 2010: Our Carnegie Pavilion at Headingley cricket ground [desiogned with Will Alsop]. It is a fine example of a dual-use building that demonstrates an ability and willingness to think creatively to identify innovative ways of achieving clients’ goals, maximizing built space, and seeking and finding solutions to sustainable challenges.

Giuseppe Boscherini the director of consulting, Woods Bagot
The story of the year relates to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s ‘war of words’ with architects. I’d like to link the general  issue raised of “whether architects truly add value to buildings’ with another recent story about the  decision to eliminate the wrap around the new Olympic 2012 stadium, as part of a massive cost saving. This had architects debating the design implications, while Olympic Minister Hugh Robertson observed: ‘Let the architects argue over it. That’s what architects do.’ Not to mention, of course, the removal of funding from CABE. Is design being earmarked as a superfluous luxury in the current cost-cutting drive, with project management and cost consultancy taking the lead?
Favourite building of 2010: Bennetts Associates’ transformation of the Grade II* listed home of the Shakespearian theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The project demonstrates adopts an innovative approach to audience participation, resolves a sensitive re-use/refurbishment brief and is beautifully detailed.

Gavin Thompson, chief executive of Buro Happold
The story of the year has to be ZERO-E, Buro Haploid’s joint venture with Woods Bagot and one of the most important developments in urban design for carbon reduction for at least a generation. The industry hasn’t quite woken up to it and what it means to them yet but it will…
Favourite building of 2010: Where to begin? We’ve been involved in high-speed railway schemes such as the four stations for Saudi Arabia’s Haramain to stunning buildings including Foster + Partners Khan Shatyry in Kazakhstan, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Bennetts Associates’ Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford and the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Roger Stephenson co-founder of Stephenson Bell

The story of 2010 was the Wikileaks phenomenon because it’s so close to the Millenium Trilogy by Stig Larrson which were the best books of the year for me. The highlight of the past year was starting to build Chetham’s School of Music after working on it for five years. The low point was the Government’s negligence towards most things cultural.
Favourite building of 2010: The Neues Museum by David Chipperfield Architects - a complex work of huge significance which takes Scarpa’s approach to ‘new with old’ to an even higher level.


Charles Holland, director of FAT

Highlight of the year was finishing our Thornton Heath Library project. It took five years but I’m proud of the result.  Another highlight was teaching at Yale again and, in particular, being at the fabulous Learning from Las Vegas conference there in February. The lowlight was probably being trapped in a snowbound Heathrow airport for a day and losing my baggage on the way to get there. Interesting news stories were the election and the subsequent ransacking of the public sector and cuts - particularly to higher education but also to affordable housing, benefits, school building, the list goes on……
Favourite building of 2010: MVRDV’s balancing barn. It’s loon-tunes cartoon directness was particularly refreshing in the earnestly worthy context of British architecture. 





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