2008 Reform Club Debate

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The Reform Club, 104-105 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5EW
28 February 2008 – 6.00pm for 6.30pm start

“This House believes that better architecture will result when architects reclaim their position as leaders of the Design Team, and lead the integration of engineering into the building design process.”

Review of Event by Peter Scher

CHAIR: Chris Gilmour, of HBG Construction

Chris is an Architect and Marketing Director of HBG UK, one of the largest construction companies in the UK turning over £1billion per year and a leader in the delivery of major projects in both the public and private sectors. HBG is the UK arm of BAM the sixth largest construction services and property group in Europe.

He has over 35 years experience in the industry particularly in the commercial, retail, education and health sectors and has particular responsibility for the Education and Health teams within HBG.

He is a Director of BE the leading industry reform group in collaborative working as well as a Director of the BCO.



John Cooper, of Anshen & Alllen

John Cooper has been a Director of Anshen & Allen since 2001 and has led a number of ambulatory care and larger acute hospital projects, including the recently completed St. James’ University Hospital in Leeds, the largest cancer centre in Europe.

He has recently been the architectural director-in-charge of a number of large PPP bids, including the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, and the New Hospital Pembury for the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which will be the first 100% single bed NHS hospital in the UK.


Jaime Bishop, of Steffian Bradley

Jaime Bishop completed his education at The Royal College of Art, after previously studying at University of Bath and TU Delft.

He has worked at Tectus and Coda before moving to Steffian Bradley Architects where he is an Associate Director.

Over the last six years Jaime has gained expert knowledge of healthcare design particularly primary care design and multiple tenancy regeneration projects typified by the LIFT program. Most recently Jaime was a primary designer for the new £151 million Walsall Manor Hospital PFI.



Phil Nedin, of Arup

Phil, is a chartered mechanical engineer, leader of ARUP global healthcare business and building services group in Cardiff, UK, and President of the UK Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estates Management (IHEEM).

He has a wide experience of working on healthcare facilities in both project management and technical advisory roles. Sustainability and developing low-energy alternatives are key drivers in his work.

His particular area of expertise is working on an integrated approach to create optimum therapeutic environments in the design of healthcare facilities.


Chris Shaw, of MAAP Architects

Christopher Shaw is a registered architect with 25 years experience. In 1991, Christopher became a founding director of MAAP Architects.

Much of his recent energy has been directed towards business development. He speaks regularly on the design of environments for mental health and acute hospital care as well as acting as professional advisor to NHS Trusts.


The Event was sponsored by: hbg

14th ANNUAL REFORM CLUB DEBATE – 28th February 2008

The annual Debate is one of the many innovative and valuable initiatives of Ray Moss, our organisation’s founding Chair. Ann Noble, the present Chair, opened this year’s event by congratulating Ray on his Award for Lifetime Achievement, an honour bestowed for the first time at the 2007 celebration of Building Better Healthcare. Her congratulations were warmly endorsed and applauded by the house. As it turned out this was the high point of the evening.

The formal debate is a game of words between two sides for a participating ‘house’, played according to well-established rules and under the control of the chairman, an official referee. A predetermined ‘motion’ is set for one side to propose and for the other to oppose in speeches to persuade the house to agree. The members of the house join in and then decide the game in a vote at the end. The quality of the game depends on the wording of the motion and the skill and determination of the players.

Many previous Reform Club Debates have examined important contemporary controversies, providing members with informed arguments by expert advocates in passionate verbal contests. HBG Construction sponsored the event this year and the motion proposed that “this house believes that better architecture will result when architects reclaim their position as leaders of the Design Team, and lead the integration of engineering into the building design process.” Chris Gilmour, A Director of HBG Construction, chaired the debate which was opened by John Cooper of Anshen and Allen proposing the motion. Opposing it was Phil Nedin of Arup UK. The seconders were Jaime Bishop of Stefian Bradley for the motion and Chris Shaw of MAAP against. About seven members contributed from the floor of the house eliciting some further responses from the platform.

The topics of design team “leadership” and “the integration of engineering” have been debated in architecture and construction circles for as long as I can remember with no notable outcome or clarity. As for “better architecture”, the term has no meaning that we could ever agree to debate. All the platform speakers are successful in practice and it was clear that they all shared the same values for architecture and the construction process. John Cooper made a good advocate for architects, drawing on extensive and well-analysed experience in a characteristically amusing chat. Phil Nedin, from an impressive engineering background, was also very sound and balanced in his argument. I could not discern any real disagreement between them or any need to vote one way or the other.

From the floor of the house Phil Gusack made his usual attempt to enliven the debate by bringing up “PFI” and “American business models” but to no avail. There were some forty people attending and since most were architects and already sure supporters of the motion the vote was a foregone conclusion. There were 28 for, seven against and four abstentions. But as a game it was the equivalent of a practice knock-up within the football club.

Peter Scher
March 2008


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