17 Sept 2012

60 seconds with...Nigel Clark, Technical Director at Hilson Moran and Chairman of the BCO London & South East Regional Judging Panel

Nigel has been involved in the design and construction of buildings for over 30 years. He has considerable experience in the energy performance of buildings, fa├žade design solutions and the application of low and zero carbon and renewable technologies and regularly provides advice on all aspects of building design in the UK, Europe and the Middle East with an emphasis on tall buildings and environmentally progressive buildings.

He became Chairman for the London and South East BCO Judging panel in 2012 and following his first year as Chairman we spent 60 seconds finding out more about his experience as a judge and what drives him in his career:

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

As a company, we have been members of the BCO since 2001, although my own individual membership dates from 2007. As a significant proportion of our work revolves around commercial offices, the BCO is a very relevant and influential organisation to us. It’s for that reason that I was happy to contribute to both the Guide to Specification and the Fit Out Guide, as I think they are important documents that set the standard for developers, designers and occupiers to compare themselves against.

You have been on the London and South East judging panel for two years and Chairman for one, what has been your favourite moment so far?

It’s really difficult to try and pick a favorite moment because I have genuinely enjoyed the whole experience so far. I think the number of people who have said they would like to put themselves forward as Judges next year must rate highly in my series of favourite moments as it means the importance of the Awards is increasing every year, if more and more people are willing to commit the time necessary to be a Judge.

What is the hardest part about being a BCO Judge?

I think short listing from the submissions is very difficult and it’s really important that as Judges we are as diligent as possible in arriving at the list of buildings which are to receive a visit.  All the entrants will have done a lot of work to submit their entry and not to be shortlisted will inevitably be disappointing to them.  The other aspect is trying to get around almost 40 buildings in five days, it’s a very intensive schedule which needs to be organised with almost military like precision. I will never forget the itinerary I saw in my first year of judging, in some cases we had five minutes to get from one building to the next, but we managed it in four!

What is the best part about being a BCO Judge?

I think it has to be the opportunity to see a wide range of buildings which I probably wouldn’t get to see in any other way. Being able to view what others are achieving is a great way of seeing how you are really doing compared to others. Also it’s good to have the opportunity to meet other colleagues and professionals that you haven’t had the chance to work with previously.

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

The one entry that I will never forget is the Graeae Theatre Company, which is a disabled-led theatre company in Hackney.  It was only a small project, entered in the Projects up to 2000sqm category, but seeing what had been achieved on a tight budget and feeling the passion of the users and their excitement at having a new home was about as inspirational as it gets.  The fact it became the national winner as well as the regional winner must have meant others felt the same.  The attention to detail and the innovative ways that colour, light, touch and even smell had been used to give all the users, whatever their disability or impairment ways of moving around and using the building was just amazing.  I think all the judges felt the same as when we came out; we all looked at each other, not quite knowing how to put it into words.

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

With the quality of the entries always being so high, it is really important that the written entries highlight the unique aspects of their project that set them apart from the competition. Because of the number of entries we get in the L&SE Region, we always have to shortlist on the basis of the submissions only, so it is really important for entrants to set out their unique points in a clear, concise and easy to read manner. The spread of questions will give everyone the opportunity to put forward whatever aspect of their project they feel goes beyond just good practice.

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

My advice would be to try and look behind the words or smart desktop publishing of a submission and look for something that is genuinely innovative or unusual and sets them apart from the competition. The Awards are meant to reward best practice and this can come in so many forms, it can take a bit of digging to find it sometimes.  I think that’s why it is so important to have a mix of skills on the judging panel, as everyone spots something different, so collectively, hopefully we don’t miss anything.

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

There have been a number of people who have inspired me over the years but I wouldn’t want to pick out individuals although they all had a few things in common. Firstly they all had a fantastic understanding of what was necessary to make a project special, way beyond their own individual background or training, and secondly they were incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about what they did and obviously enjoyed every second of it.  That type of passion brings out the best in everyone involved and being part of a team with that type of drive is a great feeling and inspires you to strive for even better things.

What is your guilty pleasure?  (Something you enjoy but feel a bit guilty for. Possibly an embarrassing taste, whether it be music, fashion, food etc)

I gave up long ago feeling guilty about doing anything I enjoy, others will have to take me as they find me, I guess it’s one of the advantages of getting older. My son plays inline roller hockey at a high level and having been a taxi driver most weekends whilst he was a teenager, I can’t really give it up, so now help out with managing one of the youth teams and often find myself being team Waterboy to the seniors. Despite all the wisecracks I get, I wouldn’t miss it for anything when you watch a group of youngsters really working hard for each other and enjoying success through sheer hard team work, it’s an important life lesson I hope they never forget.

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