20 Sep 2012

60 seconds with...Bill Ritchie, Director at Atelier Ten and BCO Scottish Judging Chairman

Bill is a fellow of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, he has extensive experience of major public sector projects including schools, housing and hospitals, and commercial projects including offices, shops, cinemas and hotels.

He will be taking on responsibility for the BCO Scottish Awards in 2013, so we spent 60 seconds quizzing him about his judging experiences to date:


How long have you been a member of the BCO and what do you see as a key benefit?

I have been a member for approximately six years and have been involved with the Scottish Chapter Committee for the last four years. I also represent the BCO on the Scottish Property Federation’s Policy Committee for Building Standards and Sustainability.

There are many benefits of membership but learning through the research portal and attending tours are a great way of keeping abreast of the ever changing challenges of good office design.

You have been on the Scottish judging panel for three years, what do you see as the biggest challenge of becoming Chairman?

The judging process has been well-honed over the years and, in my experience, provides a great deal of rigour to what otherwise could be quite a subjective process. The biggest challenge is to ensure that there is a healthy competition. Last year’s regional results demonstrated that competent well delivered schemes win awards – not necessarily the most expensive projects.

What is the hardest part about being a BCO judge?

The most difficult element is having to select only one winner in each category. I can recall on a number of occasions wishing to recognise more than one scheme. Timing can be the key to success and a number of schemes have not been awarded due to the number of entries in a category in that particular year. There is no enjoyment in seeing some great developments going unrewarded.

What is the best part about being a BCO Judge?

The best part has to be the license to see and hear what the best in the industry is doing. It is tantamount to industrial espionage! I also really enjoy the open debates between judges hearing what appeals to each member of the panel.

The Entry Guide asks entrants to describe how the office lifts spirits, is there a past awards entry that made a particular positive impact on you? And if so, why was this?

I think this is one of the most important questions which we ask. The office environment has seen many changes from the drab grey interiors of the 70’s. We are witnessing a transformation in office design with offices becoming colourful – even fun spaces which encourage communication and enhance productivity. Virgin Money’s award winning refurbishment on Charlotte Square in Edinburgh last year was of particular note where a respectable St Andrew Square historic and listed building was transformed into a contemporary space which the client, staff and visitors clearly enjoy. Hard Rock Cafe style Virgin branded memorabilia adorn the main staircase and visitors lounge, which looks more akin to a boutique hotel.

What advice would you give someone planning to submit an entry for the 2013 Awards?

Go for it! The application process has been streamlined this year and we are working to give more prominence and publicity to those who participate. Given the current economic climate, the number of entries is expected to stabilise so there has never been a better opportunity to win a coveted cube!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out as a BCO Judge?

Be yourself. Each judge is picked to bring their own particular knowledge and experience to bear and this is the key to ensuring that the review is as broad an assessment as possible. (My other advice would be get in training – four days in a van with little time to eat, drink or check emails can be punishing!)

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector?

There are many great sources of inspiration that we see through judging or attending tours. Design teams are using more sophisticated simulation packages to deliver low energy or fire engineered solutions whilst architects and interior designers are constantly raising the bar delivering more flexible and creative environments.

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine?

I am lucky with a very understanding wife and two teenage children who still have some time for me! We endeavour whenever possible to catch up over our evening meal together – although that seems to be getting later and later these days.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I am a terrible Karaoke singer but that doesn’t stop me giving the odd and very bad rendition of Kenny Roger’s Ruby!