03 March 2020
Meet Architect, Rebecca, and Architectural Technician, Harriet from Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. They recently delivered an inspiring school design together. The scope of the project was to refurbish the building's Design Technology area, creating a contemporary modern learning environment. #InsideAtkins caught up with them to find out more:
"I've been at Atkins for one and a half years. When I saw the job advertised, I already had a friend in Atkins' London Education Team, who told me how supportive and creative it was. After this, I knew I wanted to work here. I love being an architect and able to see a tangible result for my efforts. My days are interesting and varied, with each day being different."
"I've been at Atkins for just over three years. I started in Newcastle as a fairly recent graduate, and I transferred to London two years ago. It's great having colleagues who I can go to for advice from different offices."
Most people have heard of an Architect. But what is an Architectural Technician, and how did you become one?
Harriet: I work mainly on the later stages of projects, drawing up details and writing specifications. I'm interested in the materials used in construction and how things work together. I really enjoy working closely with other disciplines to create a cohesive project during the design and construction stages. I studied Architectural Technology at University, and now I'm working towards my chartership.
We love the results of the school refurb. What was the best thing about this project for you?
Rebecca: We've been told that the staff and students think the new areas are fantastic. It's so nice to know that our designs are having a positive impact on their day-to-day lives.
Harriet: Being able to participate in design team meetings, client engagements and site meetings. This allowed me to feel confident about my work and contribute positively.
How did you support each other on this project?
Rebecca: Harriet has a keen eye for detail and made sure that our proposed vision for the spaces could be built.
Harriet: Working with Rebecca has been great. She fully involved me in all elements of the project and valued my opinion throughout, which has really helped me develop. We communicated well together, making us an effective team.
What aspect of the project makes you feel the most pride?
Rebecca: The central graphics room. We updated the existing wooden ceiling with new lighting that follows the furniture layouts. Just by removing doors and part of a wall, we've transformed it into a light, spacious and flexible teaching room.
Harriet: The before and after images really highlight the dramatic changes to the building. The final teaching spaces are amazing, and I'm really proud that we created such wonderful classrooms where students can thrive.
What is exciting and unique about what you've achieved?
Rebecca: Harriet and I were lucky to have a client who embraced our proposed colour scheme. The vibrant colours are unique to this project and help to create exciting teaching spaces.
Harriet: I agree with Rebecca, the skills the students learn in each room differs greatly, so it worked well to create zones using colour.
What inspired you about each other during the project?
Rebecca: Harriet's passion for learning about the detailing of the proposed design was a continuous motivation to produce an in-depth, coherently detailed project.
Harriet: Rebecca is incredibly diligent and organized. She taught me how important that is when it comes to managing a successful project. Her memory is fantastic, and the whole design team benefitted from her ability to remember all our meeting discussions.
What kept you challenged?
Rebecca: As this was a refurbishment project, the room sizes were already defined, therefore proposing layouts to meet what the client needed took careful design.
Harriet: Unforeseen situations on-site during the construction. The contractor is reliant on us to work out the best solution to allow work to continue on time. Solving these can be really time-consuming and need a swift turnaround of information for the design team.
What are you able to do now that you weren't able to do before the project?
Rebecca: Before the project started, I was very nervous when talking publicly. I had to present to the client many times on this project, which enabled me to gain confidence and ease.
Harriet: I learnt a lot about specification writing, as that was my responsibility on the project. I had to ensure I thoroughly researched all the materials and components that we required. I've worked on specifications and clauses, but it was my first time writing one in full.
What has Atkins helped you discover about yourself?
Rebecca: I can have confidence in my ability to design and lead projects.
Harriet: What I value the most, that I can grow my confidence, and also I can pursue the career I desire.
What do you love about working at Atkins?
Rebecca: The passion for design, the project and career opportunities, the support, and the understanding of well-being and a work-life balance. Compared to some of the previous firms I've worked for – Atkins is incredible at supporting staff, and goes above-and-beyond to nurture our careers.
Harriet: As Atkins has offices all over the country and world, it allows us to travel for new work opportunities and offers a vast range of project types and sizes. The support we have throughout our careers is really valuable.
Our vision is to see more women taking the lead and growing their careers where their interests lie. So we're investing in our women at all career stages and making our workplaces better for everyone. To see where you'll fit in, apply here.