Insights on Architecture from Alumni
Thursday, 14 October 2021
Alumni architects Emma Roden, Chloe Granger and Fiona Hazlitt joined members of the school and local community on Zoom to share their experience of this varied and rewarding career. The talk was the first of this year’s Perspective Lectures: a series of free half-termly public lectures organised and hosted by the Girls’ Division and the School’s Development Office.
After a brief welcome from Mrs Lynne Kyle, Head of the Girls’ Division, Year 13 student and aspiring architect Vanessa Wong gave a brief introduction to the three speakers for the evening before handing over to them.
Chloe Granger (Class of 1998) is a Director of Crosby Granger Architects Ltd and also a Technical Advisor for the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings). She opened her talk with a brief overview of her career as a conservation architect: she said that she has always loved old buildings, and studied architecture in the hopes that she might get to work on them. She was one of a small number of scholars chosen for a nine-month touring scholarship with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and later became an AABC accredited architect, meaning that she is able to work on grant-funded projects. She has in the past worked on high-profile projects in Manchester such as the Cathedral and John Rylands Library.
Chloe talked a little about how conservation projects are managed, from condition surveys to stone repairs and replacement, conversions and upgrades to heritage management and management plans. She has worked on churches, which she called the ‘bread and butter work’ of conservation architecture, but also on castles, ruins, estates, mill conversions and new-builds using traditional materials. She said that ‘conservation and sustainable architecture is the way forward’ and that those wishing to enter this career need to be dedicated, passionate and ‘in it to make a difference’. Particularly with climate change being such a key issue, she said that designing and developing healthy and efficient buildings using appropriate materials is the way forward.
The second speaker for the evening was Fiona Hazlitt (Class of 2017), a fifth year student currently completing a Masters degree in Architecture at the University of Nottingham and due to graduate in July 2023. Fiona’s journey into architecture began during her A Levels: in the summer holidays she worked for Cassidy + Ashton, the company that built the Junior Girls’ School and Riley Centre at Bolton School. She went on to complete her fourth year placement with the same company, working as an architectural assistant in 2020-21.
Fiona talked through her experience of studying architecture at university so far in some detail. She spoke about the different projects she has completed, including an exciting second year project in which she helped to build a school in South Africa! She also advised aspiring architects on what to consider when applying and the skills to develop in preparation for the course, such as time management.
The final speaker was Emma Roden (née Platt, Class of 1990), who is now a Director of Kimble Roden Architects Ltd with 25 years of experience. She began her talk with an overview of her career, which like Fiona included work experience at an architect’s office during the Sixth Form. She also talked about her experiences in both large and small companies, the difficulties of navigating the recession and being made redundant in 2008, and the pros and cons of setting up her own practice.
Emma was able to give an interesting insight into the day to day work she does: she talked through a variety of documents and showed how she communicates a new space to clients through drawings and models. She also spoke about coordinating contractors and the challenges of organising a project.
She described architecture as ‘the perfect blend of creativity and problem-solving’ and said that this career ‘combines arts and sciences in a way no other profession does’. She said that having an impact on the way that people live is ‘really, really rewarding.’
In terms of the skills needed to be a good architect, all three speakers agreed that hard work and diligence are very important, but also compassion, patience and interpersonal skills are vital. They also said that being able to think around problems and consider things from many different perspectives are useful abilities.
A question and answer session then allowed the three speakers to address any queries from the audience. Chloe, Fiona and Emma shared the A Levels they studied and Fiona elaborated about the design portfolio that is required as part of the application. The three also talked about the challenges of finding a fourth year work placement, and Emma and Chloe were able to describe what might set someone apart from other candidates. They spoke about the ‘key tools of the trade’ and also shared some more details about favourite or particularly challenging projects.
To bring the evening to a close, Vanessa and Mrs Kyle both offered their thanks to the speakers on behalf of the school community.
The next Perspectives Lecture will focus on the healthcare profession and will take place on Zoom on Tuesday 14 December 2021.
The Architecture Perspectives Lecture, including the Q&A, can be viewed in full on Bolton School TV or via the play button below:
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