Moving from Richard Ellis was something of a sea change. At Richard Ellis, Mike Warner and I ran a department of 30 staff .

At Heron, I had a staff of one, the very talented and hard working Paul Hirst. But it was an amazing team. Tim Binnington in charge of us all, with Graeme Newman as his Letting Director, Andy Burnie as Management Director and me as Building Director. Lurking in the shadows was the figure of Tony Royle. And at the top of the building was Gerald, with his two secretaries busily churning out the green memos with which he tortured us all.

It all took years off my life but I learnt a lot. How you have to rely on your consultants, so you choose them carefully. How you can never be sure who your friends are and who your enemies are. And above all, that a team that trusts each other can achieve an awful lot. And we did.

But, I had to learn about shopping centres! I had never designed one, hardly been in one because I hated them, so it was off to the the RIBA library and pick up all the text books and glossies that I could. I devoured them, disussed them with Tim and Graeme, threw them away and then really started to learn. We did all sorts together. Victoria Station, Walthamstow Shopping Centre, The Marlands in Southampton, but I have chosen to illustrate this section with The Bridges in Sunderland.

An RIBA award prize winner in the 70's this mixed housing scheme and open shopping centre was a disaster. People did not like shopping there because it was windy and wet. There was a fair chance of being hit on the head by a beer bottle thrown off the tower blocks above. And it was dismal and unexciting. The concrete 'spider ramp' architectural feature being particularly hideous:-

So we demolished it, and covered the centre in, all to designs by Leach Rhodes Walker:-

I felt I had done my bit for the environment! And it really looked pretty good. And the people of Sunderland flocked to it, so that was nice.


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