“Sky” Photographs taken by Jeremy
September is a special month here at gcp as it marks the company’s birthday! This year is our 32nd anniversary and to celebrate we will be reflecting on past staff events over on social media.
As part of this celebration, we have conducted Director-interviews to add to our meet-the-team series. First up is Jeremy Pilling, Architect and Managing Director who, since completing his professional qualifications in 1984, has lived and worked in the Bristol area. Jeremy has a wide network of local contacts and was a Council Member for the Avon Branch of the RIBA between 1992 and 1998.
Jeremy worked for eight years with JT Design and Build, a Bristol based construction company specialising in development through Design and Build. This experience provided Jeremy with an excellent understanding of commercial design and cooperative working between design and construction teams.
In 1987 Jeremy founded gcp Chartered Architects with Graham Carruthers, initially established in Bath. Jeremy has led the company through its growth, incorporation in 1994 and relocation to Bristol in 1998. Jeremy is the senior Director and majority shareholder of the company with principle responsibility for financial and business management.
Jeremy has delivered a wide range of projects, managing complex developments through all project stages. Jeremy is passionate about finding new uses for redundant buildings and giving tired buildings a new lease of life. He is particularly knowledgeable about planning regulations and has helped to achieve consents on some complex and sensitive sites in a range of settings.
Jeremy is always keen to consider multiple options for a project weighing up their relative feasibility in terms of cost benefit, whilst striving to achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of the quality and practicality of the design. Sometimes the solution may be to challenge the problem and rewrite the brief. Frequently his advice has been to reorganise a building or a site in a smarter way, build less from scratch and achieve a viable solution well within a budget.
Morning Jeremy. Considering your impressive CV and professional experience, not to mention leading gcp for 32 years I think it would be difficult to capture everything in one interview! Today I’d like people reading this to get to know you a little better on a personal level, so could we begin by hearing about what inspired you to pursue architecture?
My dad was a local authority planner and being an architect was the only thing I wanted to do from the age of about 14 apart from be a footballer of course!
And apart from professional footballer, if you weren’t an architect, what would you be?
Rich – Ha ha!
Well you managed a smile from me, self-confessed hater of cheesy jokes, so perhaps comedian might have been an option as well! Why don’t you tell me some of the things you like to do in your spare time.
Playing golf, learning to play the piano, skiing, swimming, cycling, drinking, cooking and gardening and I do like seeing new places – sorry – I wish I had some more spare time!
Fantastic. My favourite thing to ask in these interviews is “tell me something we might not know about you” – do you think you could?
I collect cigarette cards and have nearly thirty thousand of them.
Wow. This one gets me every time. Considering I’ve worked alongside you for twelve years now, spending most of that time sitting in the same section maybe I need to start paying more attention!
As much as I like the jokes and fun facts, I hope you don’t mind if I ask a few more serious questions about your time in charge of gcp. I’d really like to hear about a favourite project that you’ve worked on to date.
There have been so many projects that I have really enjoyed but probably Lisson Grove Medical Centre in Plymouth in the 1990s. Life was a bit simpler then!
I can agree with that – I was still at school then (and it’s not often I get to say that, believe me !). Moving on quickly before I get a pencil thrown in my direction, what’s your proudest personal achievement?
Not quite a personal achievement but I am proudest of my children and their strength and independence.
Lovely and it’s thirty-two years old for the company this year – older than your children. How has gcp changed over the years?
It is better organised and has developed systems which allow staff to work efficiently and to their strengths.
And what has been your best moment at gcp in the last year?
Resolving the roof construction at Swindon Town Football Foundation pavilion and a staff ‘camping’ weekend away down in Devon.
It’s been a colourful 30 years. Looking forward for a moment, where do you see the future of the practice?
I am going to work hard to usher in employee ownership in 2020 and believe the business has now developed a core strength which will enable it to thrive irrespective of minor or temporary vagaries of the market.
Thanks Jeremy, I couldn’t agree more. We really have a strong, diverse and dedicated team here and I think we are all looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings. I won’t keep you for much longer, but maybe before you go you could tell us what you are looking forward to in the next year?
Seeing my daughter move into her first house, manage the transition to employee ownership and plans to visit New York and New England again next September.
Exciting! To finish – and this is a tough one considering there will be lots to choose from – could you share a special memory or moment from your time at gcp?
Probably the effort everyone put into our 30th year events in 2017 but over the years definitely the people who I have had the pleasure of working with – you know who you are!
Lovely, what a nice thing to end on. It really sums up what is at the heart of our successful team, the people who we work with and the relationships we have forged over the years.
As part of the interview, Jeremy was asked to pick three, favourite and iconic projects that he’s worked on. He chose:
Junction 3, a regeneration scheme comprising a new library, crèche, work space units, apartments and houses. The bold shapes and bright colours brought a new lease of life to the area which had suffered from neglect.
He chose this because it was very challenging to build but a huge achievement and the project went on to win several awards.
Filwood Green Business Park was designed by Stride Treglown through to planning stage and then we took on technical design stage working for Midas Construction. This is one of Jeremy’s favourites because of what the building provides - small units for start-up businesses where they can develop and grow.
Jeremy’s final choice was Bristol Water HQ.
Bristol Water’s offices were in desperate need of refurbishment when we were instructed. gcp’s relationship with Bristol Water goes back to 1999 when we embarked on the design of a new fishing lodge at Chew Valley Lake. The relationship continued and in 2010 we were asked to prepare a feasibility for a refurbishment of the head office building.
The iconic 1960s office building was revived with a new extension, over-cladding of the existing envelope and full internal refurbishment. On completion, two hundred network staff joined their colleagues under the same roof for the first time to enjoy the stunning new facilities.
This is one of Jeremy’s favourite projects because it is the perfect example of recycling old buildings and creating something new and improved. The finished article is hugely successful.