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Architects of their own (international) success

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Design, North West, Olympics London 2012

I was thrilled to hear that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) will be holding its prestigious Stirling Prize ceremony in Manchester for the first time on 13 October. I look forward to following the events on TV as they reveal the best new building in Europe designed by a RIBA-chartered architect.

The shortlist looks stunning, including the hugely impressive London Olympics Stadium designed by Populous. The stadium was one of the stars of the whole show and I expect it to be just as much a star of the Paralympics which kick off later this week.

But let’s not forget the extraordinary feats of the Paralympians themselves as they show us what guts, hard work and dedication to their sport can achieve. A big cheer for Team GB again as they go in search of yet more gold medals.

RIBA is the world’s leading organisation on architecture and the built environment, bringing together the key practitioners. Interestingly it has just launched its new strategy for 2012-2016 and it was good to see that, right up front, it has one of its main priorities as focusing on international trade.

The North Westhas a fine tradition in finding inspirational architects, not the least of which is Norman Foster (a Manchester boy) who is famed for designing the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok and Beijing Airport.

I will forgive him for depriving us of the thrilling approach to Kai Tak Airport, the old but fondly remembered airport in Hong Kong. I always used to try to get a seat on the right hand side of the plane and I swear you could almost reach out and pick the washing off the lines of the apartment blocks on the approach to the runway!

The region is home to the biggest community of architects outside of London and we’ve been able to help two terrific companies, BDP and Fairhursts, to establish their presence overseas.

BDP began in 1961 in Preston but now has studios in Manchester, London and overseas in China, UAE and India. A lot of the international expansion was spearheaded by David Cash, BDP’s Chairman, whose company I have had the pleasure of sharing on various panels on how to do business in China, much as I have had the pleasure of introducing Ian Fitton, the Chairman of Fairhursts, who has spoken eloquently about their success in establishing themselves in UAE and China.

The opportunities for architects are enormous around the world and it’s good to know that the North West is maintaining its profile in overseas markets thanks to the talent and enthusiasm of RIBA members all round the region. I fully expect Team GB to win many medals in the Paralympics and look forward to seeing which building wins the Stirling Prize in October. If we had an Olympics for architects I would predict that the North West would be bringing home its fair share of medals.

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