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EmailBag Archive

Katharine Griffith,  student at GMIT Letterfrack – Jan/Feb 2014
Katharine Griffith has a Honours Degree in Furniture Design and Manufacture from GMIT Letterfrack, having graduated 2013. From Killaloe in County Clare, she also has a City & Guilds qualification in Traditional Boatbuilding 2006 from Falmouth Marine School, Cornwall College, Cornwall UK.

GMIT furniture award winner Photograph by Aengus McMahon

Plan: What inspired you to go down the route of Furniture Design and manufacture in the first place?

KG: I have always been interested in design and making things with my hands. I studied art at school and a few years later I completed a course in traditional boat building, this course gave me a love of woodwork and equipped me with good woodworking hand skills. I decided to go down the route of furniture design and manufacture in order to develop my design and making skills and be able to concentrate on smaller, more individual projects.

Plan: Why did you opt for GMIT and how does the course link to your ambition?

KG:  I opted for GMIT because of its reputation as a centre of excellence in Furniture Design and Manufacture. I liked the fact that it is a relatively small college, which means that there are good relationships between lecturers and students and staff members are always willing and able to help with any questions or problems that students have. The course offers a broad base of knowledge so that everyone’s ambitions are catered for, from starting your own business to working for large-scale production companies.

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Angela Brady PRIBA – February 2012
Angela Brady was born in Dublin and graduated from the Dublin School of Architecture. She set up in private practice with Robin Mallalieu forming Brady Mallalieu Architects 20 years  ago, an award winning design led practice specialising in contemporary sustainable design and based in London.

angela brady

Will the situation improve for architects in 2012 (even slightly)?
Yes if we learn to diversify and use our communication skills to help the general public be aware of savings they can make on making their homes more energy efficient.

How can the profession maintain high standards of design when the economy and budgets are so tight?
Good design does not cost money, we cannot afford to do things twice so get it right first time and build to last.

Is below cost bidding a problem – is it getting worse or better and what can be done to address it?
A good business firm will not under cut for short term business as all will lose out in time.

Do you feel architects provide value for money?
Architects bring great value in realising the potential of projects. We have vision skills and innovative ways to save money now and in future.

Plan Magazine is available on subscription, contact Catherine at info@planonline.ie

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Simon McGuinness – September/October 2012
A good start is half the battle, says Simon McGuinness Certified Passive House Designer at Simon McGuinness Architects and lecturer in DIT. Equipping young architects with the skillsets, experience and attitude to go out and compete in the current workplace is no easy challenge these days, but it is one that Simon rises to on a daily basis. He talks to Plan Magazine about  the challenges facing both young and seasoned architects  at the moment.

SimonMcguinness

How would you best describe the current market for architectural services
Recent estimates based on fee data suggested that the total market for architectural services in Ireland is currently 10% of its 2006 peak. No other sector has suffered a 90% reduction in demand for its services. That cannot exactly be described as buoyant, but it is not without hope.
 
How are you adapting course content to reflect the needs of today’s design projects
We have just completed the first year of a springboard-funded Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Modelling and Energy Retrofit. This is an entirely unique course, unique in Ireland and unique in Europe. It prepares qualified and experienced architects and architectural technologists for the task of retrofitting our current building stock to the highest international standards of energy efficiency, with low levels of greenhouse gas emissions and consequent fuel cost savings for occupants. In designing this course, we have responded to a pressing need to upskill the architectural profession with specific predictive modelling skills necessary to undertake energy retrofit projects in an efficient and safe way. These are projects are notoriously easy to get wrong, especially in our unique climate. Widespread failures are predictable, given the huge change in technology involved in moving from a construction industry derived from a traditional form of masonry construction with little or no energy performance characteristics, to one which is at the top end of the scale of energy performance.

What is the situation in terms of graduates emigrating
Graduates with digital modelling skills are in high demand in the UK at present. The Far East, Middle East and Australia are developed digital modelling markets and such skills are invaluable in securing employment.

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Patricia Power – May 2012
Patricia Power is the founder of the Patricia Power Quantity Surveying and Project Management Practice. Prior to her current role, Patricia spent 12 years with a large Quantity Surveying/Project Management Practice.

Patricia Power - Surveyors Journal

Tell us about how you got involved in “Room to Improve”
Patricia: Dermot Bannon, had developed a painful habit throughout the first four series of completing beautiful work – but often well beyond the original budget. Audiences winced at televised meetings where budgets soared and clients came under financial strain. I got a call asking me to consider testing for the position of quantity surveyor on Room to Improve. It was a big opportunity and it was helped enormously by the fact that she and Dermot “clicked” right away. I try to stay  on top of the costings and has a very straight way of telling Dermot what is possible – and what is not.
 
Isn’t the relationship between architect and quantity surveyor likely to be difficult on occasion?
Patricia: “I have no difficulty saying ‘That won’t work. We can’t afford it. You’ll have to find another way’. I’m so used to saying it that it just isn’t a problem. And Dermot has been very good to recognise that reality. He has found the solutions.”

What can be done to encourage more women to come into the wider building industry?
Patricia: Promotion and marketing is the key, using the current women within the industry to promote and encourage others to get involved, and thus encouraging those within it to stay and advance. I do a lot of work with the SCSI to assist in this manner, the feedback from women and young girls is incredible, along with the Room to Improve Show, this is slowly informing the public of what a QS does. This is also a job for women, getting the message across and opening up what might have been a closed male dominated industry.

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Tony Reddy – June/July 2012
Tony is chairman of Reddy Architecture, a leading architectural practice with offices in Ireland, and the United Kingdom and that has just celebrated 30 years in business. He is also a founder of the Urban Forum and a founder Director of the Academy of Urbanism.  He speaks to Plan Magazine about this 30 year journey, including some bumps along the way, and where he sees it going.  

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What’s your feeling about achieving 30 years in business?
For our team at Reddy Architecture+Urbanism, and for me personally, there is a real sense of having achieved something significant.  During the era of the Celtic Tiger our practice grew steadily and we completed many interesting and challenging projects. However the achievement of surviving the last four years is particularly significant.While we had previously experienced the ebb and flow which is normal for the architectural profession no one could have anticipated the scale of the economic crash which occurred in 2008 and  the cataclysmic collapse of the  Irish property and construction industry. For our practice the implications were very severe as we adjusted to the reality, from mid- 2008, that many projects were being cancelled and a number of our clients were going out of business.

We went through a very difficult period as we reduced in size from over  200 staff to 40 and experienced significant salary and overhead cuts. However by the end of 2009 we had adjusted the practice to the point where our business had stabilised and we adapted to the new reality of  architectural practice in a changed world.

While we temporarily withdrew from Eastern Europe we managed to keep our five Irish offices open and in 2010 opened a London office, which is our base for UK and international work. We have slowly grown back to a total team of 52, allowing a number of colleagues to re-join us. I feel that I am privileged to be in practice with a talented, committed and professional team of colleagues and looking forward to future challenges.       
 
Are there particular milestones during the journey, elaborate?
We have been fortunate to have completed many significant projects, particularly from the mid 1990’s, in both the private and public sectors. We value all our clients but projects which have been particularly significant  include Temple Bar West End, the Eircom Building, Heuston South Quarter, DCU Postgraduate Centre, Cork Maternity Hospital, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre and McDonagh Junction, Kilkenny.

How is business at the moment?
We are fortunate at present to be working on a range of interesting projects. The main ones would be:
Educational projects including Primary and Secondary Schools, Research Buildings at NUI Galway Office Headquarters  for CWU, Facility for Boston Scientific/ Stryker in Cork, offices for Ernst & Young and Google’s EMEA Headquarters ( with HLW International) in Dublin, Masterplans for Connolly Station in Dublin and Aldgate in London, Mixed Use development in Rostov, Russia.

Plan Magazine is available on subscription, contact Catherine at info@planonline.ie