Urban Edge is delighted to introduce Ben Doherty as a new Associate Director.
Recently returned from Australia where he was Senior Project Leader for Smart Design Studio in New South Wales, Ben is a specialist in the design and delivery of high-end multi-residential schemes, such as the much-heralded 178 apartment Connor building at the gateway to one of Sydney’s most popular urban precincts. Prior to his time in Australia, Ben worked on a number of large-scale residential schemes in the London studio of Horden Cherry Lee, including Newfoundland, a 58 storey residential tower in Canary Wharf.
Ben’s initial area of focus at Urban Edge is on the later living sector, utilising the knowledge, techniques and methodologies gained from experience on major projects to evolve, develop and improve efficiencies and processes.
“I’ve been really impressed with the enthusiasm and willingness to learn at Urban Edge,” says Ben. “I see a real opportunity to apply some of my skills to the practice, especially on some of the large-scale projects, and introduce some of the processes and ways of working from other studio environments that I know work really well. It’s about introducing something new and fresh, perhaps offering a slightly different way of looking at things and seeing whether that approach can make a difference.”
Moving back to the UK and experiencing the challenges of remotely managing a team on the other side of the world via video communications, Ben’s glad to be back in a thriving studio environment.
We have recently remodelled our current office space to create the optimal working environment for our staff following the upheaval of the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst health and wellbeing have inevitably been key considerations in the reconfiguration, it was clear that the office should no longer be just a place to sit at a desk, but a space to encourage culture and community, promote collaboration and improve operational efficiencies through the natural communication of information and ideas.
“After the last two years, where many staff have been working from home and there are new faces they’ve never even met, I’m sure it’s like coming into a totally new studio environment,” says Ben. “The ability to work remotely does have some positives, but nothing beats sitting with your team and discussing work holistically. I love being in a studio environment where everyone’s feeding off each other. And when I say studio, I don’t mean a bunch of people sat around desks; a studio for me is all about collaboration, detail paper, sketching, architectural drawings and material samples that you can immerse yourself in. If everything is just digital, it can feel a little removed.”
As someone who has a passion for the visual nature of design, one of the first things Ben has introduced to our studio are magnetic whiteboards where ongoing work will be pinned up and staff will be encouraged to come together to review and analyse as a team. “It’s about collaboration, people coming together to read plans and drawings holistically rather than locally – it’s the perfect mechanism for improving design quickly and efficiently,” explains Ben.
Moving forward, Ben will be looking to apply some of the same efficiencies and processes across all the sectors in which we operate. He also wants to play an active part in encouraging the next generation of architects. “I love mentoring and I spent a lot of time mentoring Part I and II architecture students at my previous practice. I think back to some of those individuals who mentored me early on in my career and helped give me a greater understanding of design, technical detail and delivery and I can think of no greater compliment than being able to pass on that knowledge and everything I’ve learned since.