RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Peter Loader

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

RIBA South/South East’s Student Mentoring Scheme 2013/2014 Record

Initial Meeting 14/11/13
I met with my mentor for a short introductory chat at UCA. Both myself and my fellow mentee felt very comfortable talking with him and he seemed as keen as we were to get to know us and talk about our education. He was able to describe his working life and how he reached the point where he is, as head of a small firm specialising in school design, in a short yet compelling discussion. What we felt was most helpful was our mentors eagerness to help our own career paths, even at this early stage, with helpful insights into the profession and advice on how what to do after our degrees. Our mentor was also very interested in our own work and particularly our dissertations, and was able to offer a new perspective on some of our ideas.

First Office Meeting 21/11/13
Soon after the first meeting we visited our mentor at his Faversham office. This was my first experience in an architect’s office so for me it was a fantastic opportunity to see how a smaller firm functions and what to expect in my year in industry. Our mentor was very informative and eager to fill us in on how his practice worked and the projects that they were involved in. What impressed and surprised us most was the honesty and frankness in which he described his work life, allowing us to get both a broad and truthful grasp on all aspects of office life, from design to consultation and even the finances of the practice. This was incredibly refreshing, and although our mentor did describe some architectural horror stories, this did nothing to deter us from entering the profession, his enthusiasm and commitment to his work was inspiring. We were also shown portfolios of past work, much of which the practice had undertaken prior to our mentor taking it over, and so it was very interesting for us to see how he is transforming the work and design ethos of what was once a quite different practice.

First Site Meeting
My third meeting with was based around a site visit to the construction site of one of my mentor’s current projects. We met at Hartsdown Technology College in Margate, where the practice has designed a new Sixth Form building containing classrooms and social areas. The building was only just beginning to form, with steel structure, metal decking and staircases recently erected. This was a fantastic opportunity to explore the elements of a building and see how the details we draw in studio are translated into real systems. My mentor was able to explain how everything would fit together, and the sequences involved. This has helped me gain a real sense for the construction process and the guts of a modern building. I was introduced to the on-site agent and contractor, who works with my mentor regularly. It was fantastic to hear about the build process from his point of view, and how a construction schedule was drawn up and managed, which has fed directly into my Management & Practice module. The on-site agent also discussed managing the different teams of contractors involved, their areas of expertise and the benefits of working with a multidisciplinary team. I was also told about the architect-client relationship on the project and the importance of a close working relationship with architect, client and contractor. The building is due to be finished in a few months, our next meeting will be exploring the end result.