Tuesday, 20 March 2012

New Dawn

I am sitting in our Leeds office overlooking the River Aire which brings to mind that further down the river was Carey Jones leading architectural practice in the North of England.

Unfortunately last week Carey Jones Northern Business went into administration. This is particularly sad and poignant to me personally as when I was a student Carey Jones was the pathfinder practice in Leeds.

They were a very commercially focussed practice and delivered some great buildings over many years.

Being a north easterner I am particularly fond of both of the buildings which they completed behind Central Station.

The business as strong as Carey Jones failing in this market is an indication of how difficult business is within this recession.

The loss of an organisation such as this has a personal impact on so many people as well as impacting on loss of skills in the industry.

Many more businesses have been lost in recent months with names such as Brown Smith Baker one of the oldest established architectural practices no longer trading.

I am sure the reasons are many and varied and maybe in the future someone may look into what right and wrong things for a construction related consultancy business to do through a recession are.

One thing is for certain that there is still a long way to go for everyone and we are far from out of the woods. The practice of architecture which I joined in the 1980’s no longer exists and the market which our new graduates enter is completely different.

One of the attractions when setting out on the journey to be an architect was to own your own business. I think that in the future this will be increasingly challenging. It is also the case that after many graduates have seen the challenges of their colleagues in recent years it may be that owning your own business is not what it is thought to be.

I believe in the years ahead the polarisation of construction consultancy will continue. There will be a need for small nimble practices who produce beautifully crafted architecture.

At the other end of the scale there will be global businesses providing skills across the globe at the highest level.

The current market place is speeding up this transition and polarisation and we sit and face the fall out from this adjustment month on month.

From a personal perspective it is sad to see this evolution occur however I am also excited by the opportunities which change in the industry can bring.

The depressed nature of the construction industry has forced individuals and companies to consider things which several years ago would have been unthinkable. New technology and procurement routes are encouraging innovative thinking which I believe will ultimately improve the product which we deliver to our customers as an industry.