I joined to be the principal architect for the Dubai Metro and to establish a transportation architecture team for Atkins in the Middle East.
What did you do before you joined Atkins?
I studied Architecture at Leeds Metropolitan University and qualified as an architect in 1995. I left the UK to work overseas in 1997 and haven’t been back since! I have been fortunate to work in Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia and the UAE. Over this period I have specifically focused on rail projects and have acquired a comprehensive, specialist knowledge of the unique challenges of designing and building rail stations. My experience covers underground and above ground stations, high speed rail, light rail, tram, monorail, maglev projects, rail station refurbishments, bus stations and marine projects.
How would you describe your role and responsibilities?
My experience covers design development and management on transportation projects from feasibility through to completion. In addition to my technical capabilities I have also been heavily involved with bid management, cost planning, risk assessment, internal governance, due diligence, value engineering, team building, team management, resource planning and team leadership. Whilst specialising in architecture and station planning I have a solid understanding across all technical disciplines including fire and life safety, sustainability, MEP, crowd modelling, acoustics, lighting, underground engineering and structural engineering.
I have acted in the following roles whilst with Atkins in the Middle East:
- Regional Director of Architecture - Middle East Rail - Director of Architecture, Dubai Metro - Design Management Director - Central Market Abu Dhabi and Riyadh Metro - Technical Authority for Architecture - Doha Metro Red and Gold Line, Lusail LRT, Riyadh Metro, Mekkah Metro, Kuwait Metro - Bid Manager/ Director for Major Transportation projects.
How do you describe what you do to friends and family?
I like to keep it simple; I tell them I’m an architect and if they need more than that I tell them I design stations! Due to the specialist nature of my experience, my kids (and some friends) call me MetroMan (the super hero from the movie Megamind!)
Do you have any professional accreditations?
I am a registered architect with the ARB and a member of the RIBA.
Projects What key projects have you worked on?
So many! Riyadh Metro Package 3, Doha Metro Red Line South, Doha Metro Gold Line, Lusail LRT, Doha Metro major stations bid, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Kolkata Metro, Kuwait Metro, Dubai Mall Bridge, Abu Dhabi Bus Stations, RTA Abra Waterbus and Ferry Stations, Pearl Qatar Maglev Stations, Palm Jumeirah Monorail Station, Central Market Abu Dhabi, Dubai Metro, Epping to Chatswood Rail Line in Sydney (ECRL), Parramatta Transport Interchange in Sydney, Mei Foo Station and Yen Chow Street Station in Hong Kong, KCRC Ma on Shan Rail Extension, Circle Line Singapore, MRTA Bangkok Underground, BTS Overground Skytrain System.
What are you currently working on?
Riyadh Metro, Doha Metro Red Line South and Gold Line.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Helping my team to progress their careers with Atkins in line with their aspirations. Gaining a directorship in Atkins within four years. Building and managing an architectural team for Atkins that at its peak held 60 staff. Establishing a team that is now considered to be one of the strongest transport architectural teams in the world. Being part of the team that developed the design of the Epping to Chatswood Rail Line from concept to completion, and seeing it win numerous national and international architectural awards. Delivering the Dubai Metro.
What’s the most technically challenging project you’ve worked on at Atkins?
All of the projects I work on are technically challenging so it’s hard to choose the trickiest one! I think it must be King Abdulaziz International Airport High Speed Rail Station. At 120m wide and 600m long it’s one of the largest stations in the world. It also has numerous interfaces with utilities tunnels, LRT, roads and the airport itself. The Dubai Metro and Epping to Chatswood Rail Line come in as close seconds.
The Atkins factor How has your career developed at Atkins?
My career with Atkins has been an amazing journey. I joined as a principal architect and was given a huge amount of responsibility on the Dubai Metro. I embraced this opportunity and established and managed a team of 60 staff for the project. I have been promoted twice and am now the regional director for architecture in the rail sector.
How have you been supported during your career development?
I always had the support and guidance I needed from my managers to enable me to develop my career. I have been given the freedom to take on as much responsibility as I was comfortable with (and that turned out to be a lot!) They fully supported me in growing a large architectural team in the region. They have helped me to develop in my field of expertise and in so doing I have gained a wider exposure within the Atkins ‘family’. This support resulted in two promotions over the space of four years and I proudly became a director in 2011.
How do architects and Atkins make a difference?
I love working on rail projects as they are used by millions of people everyday. The quality of our designs therefore has a big impact on the quality of people’s lives around the world. I think as designers we have a unique opportunity to be leaders in the effort to develop a more sustainable world as we are involved in almost all types of infrastructure projects. When we deliver these projects with innovative design solutions that focus on sustainable design we can have a positive impact on the world for generations to come.
How would you describe the culture at Atkins?
When I joined Atkins I was told in the induction presentation that nothing would make Atkins happier than if we (the new recruits) stayed with the business until we retired. I had never been told this before by an employer and I think it differentiates the way that we think about our people. Atkins is all about its people and we have developed a culture based on honesty, integrity and transparency.
At Atkins’ Global Design Centre (GDC) in India, we’re proud to be the center of excellence for the SNC-Lavalin Group. We’re well into our digital transformation journey, so when we came to work on the mega Project Neon – it was our opportunity to show off the quality of our work and our passion for innovation.
Jerel Rackley is a Transportation Engineer who, since graduating from Texas A&M University in 2002, has spent his career serving agencies in the design and oversight of roadway projects. He has been at Atkins since August of 2011 and is a recent graduate of the Building People Leaders program. He took some time to share his experiences about the Mentoring Program.
The Purple Line is a new 16.2 mile, light rail transit line, running east-west between Bethesda, Maryland, and New Carrollton, Maryland. The first direct suburb-to-suburb rail link in the region, the project will connect five major activity centers just north of Washington DC with a total of 21 stations and platforms. It will also link commuters to existing transit, helping to ease the notoriously congested Capital Beltway region.