WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff – Skylines magazine

In October, my regular client WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff sponsored a host room at the annual conference of the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats in New York. I went along, listened in on two days of presentations and then turned it into a 72-page magazine, to be distributed to the company’s clients and partners worldwide. The overall theme of Skylines is the renaissance of tall buildings. There’s an unprecedented high-rise boom, but the new generation of towers will be very different from those that preceded them – not only in their giant scale but in the kind of spaces they offer, both in the sky and on the ground. Skylines explores what this looks like, from the perspective of designers, developers and city planners around the world.

WSP PB_Skylines cover

How the world might not end

If you think green building is a niche topic, head down to Ecobuild. It’s not only one of the largest events in the UK, but the largest in the world focusing on sustainable construction and architecture. More than 50,000 people came to ExCeL in east London for Ecobuild 2011 – and when I was there, most of them were trying to fit into the conference hall where Brian Cox was speaking. But there were a great many other contributors over the three day programme, with a very diverse range of views and interests. I edited a blog on the Ecobuild site in the months leading up to the event, which meant I got to talk to them about all sorts of things including why climate talks fail, the truth about eco-cities in the desert and why Christmas houses might not be a total sustainability nightmare…

“I’ve seen 45 minutes of curling since I got here”

Even the most obsessive-compulsive bridezilla would be out of her depth in the world of events insurance. Brokers who specialise in major events start earlier, plan more thoroughly, produce more paperwork, and obtain more detailed weather forecasts. And no event is more thoroughly insured than the Olympics – which will have been a relief to the organisers of the Vancouver Winter Games when they ran out of snow. I spoke to the broker who was running the behind-the-scenes operation to find out what happened

“Give everyone in Britain £1m to spend”

Why have a brainstorming session when you can hold a Dragons’ Den? That’s the thought process that seems to be taking place in organisations across the public and private sectors, and social housing is no exception. And as I discovered in this article for Inside Housing, no Den would be complete without sneery judges and emotionally scarred contestants…

Fred Goodwin shreds his own office

So it turns out that Fred ” the Shred” Goodwin is as much of a menace to building projects as he is to banks, according to the developer who built RBS’s flash new office in Manchester. I invited Allied London’s construction director Graham Skinner to speak at the latest of Building’s Phase One networking events for young construction professionals last Thursday at Spinningfields in Manchester. He said Goodwin had taken a special interest in the architecture – though unfortunately not the structural engineering, as he demanded a crucial column be removed from the lobby after digging was well underway. Perhaps there’s a clue there…

Seminars in cyberspace

In November, as part of my events editing role at Building magazine, I devised, planned and presented four “webinars” as part of our Virtual Grad Fair – kind of a clunky version of Second Life but probably more useful… Half-conference call, half-Powerpoint presentation, the webinars were viewed by several hundred students over the course of the fair, and are now available on demand. If you can be bothered to create a user ID, you can hear about working abroad, graduate schemes, work placements and how women who didn’t study construction are getting into the industry anyway. And whatever happened to Second Life? I spent a week there back in February 2007 – the architecture wasn’t up to much and urban sprawl reigned

Site canteens, jenga, watermelons and karaoke

One of the best things about being features editor of Building magazine (March 2005-2008) was organising ridiculous stunts, like this site canteen competition, a jenga tournament and the £6 house , inspired by John Prescott’s £60,000 housebuilding competition, where the winning team hollowed out a watermelon and constructed a picket fence from cucumber. But the most surreal was the Pub Olympics, where construction types got far too competitive over a quiz, table football, pool and karaoke. It culminated with a prominent construction lawyer belting out “Delilah” and making the cover…