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!

19 Sep 2012

60 seconds with...Chris Kimber-Nickelson, Head of Development Management at MEPC and BCO South West, Thames Valley & South Wales Judging Chairman

Chris is responsible for driving forward MEPC's development arm of the business; all development and refurbishment projects through inception to completion; and maintaining MEPC's development management systems at the leading edge of best practice.


He will be taking on responsibility for the BCO Awards in the South West, Thames Valley & South Wales 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 of the BCO for 3 years now. The main benefit is being able to share open discussion across the broad range of property and construction related issues with respected peers in the industry.


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

This will undoubtedly be the coordination of 4 very busy property professionals.


What is the hardest part about being a BCO Judge?

Taking in and processing all of the information that is imparted to you in the brief time you have to see each entry…and the travelling!


What is the best part about being a BCO Judge?

Meeting enthusiastic and committed project team members who are genuinely excited, and rightly proud, about the clever and innovative ways in which they have delivered good office space….and the cakes!


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?

My personal favourite of all the entrants was the Aardman Animations office in Bristol. The attention to detail was immense and I would love to work in a building where Wallace is the voice of the lift!


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

You need to cover all the bases as the general standard is high. BCO compliance and good environmental standards are ‘givens’ now and where projects win is when they demonstrate how they have gone the extra mile in several different ways.


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

It is not an undertaking to be taken lightly. They are long days, it is hard to carve out the time, and your fellow judges will likely be up for a good spirited debate!


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

I think that there are a number of inspirational ‘placemaking’ projects such as the redevelopment of Kings Cross and the Mills Bakery Royal William Yard in Plymouth which the judges visited this year. These types of project can make a real community difference across a much wider area than the site alone.


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

I am a bit of a Blackberry addict, but I would love to live without it!


What is your guilty pleasure?

One of my hobbies is Morris dancing…it doesn’t get much more embarrassing than that!

17 Sep 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.