Head of Project Management & International
Ralph is a Chartered Civil Engineer specialising in Development and Project Management. As his career and experience has grown, the significance of being an engineer has become ever more apparent, and practising “the art of directing the great sources of power in Nature for the use and convenience of man”, ever more relevant. This has come to the fore on a couple of current regeneration schemes where the demands of creating carbon zero communities and sustainable living come into focus, and being able to access Ralph’s experience from the health sector has been vital to bring this healthy living agenda into a number of our current mixed-use communities, focused on a preventative health agenda, accessing quality diet, sport and exercise while providing quality social housing for the community, alongside the complimentary life-science requirements of the schemes.
What’s the proudest moment of your career?
Delivering the Millennium Seedbank for Royal Botanic Gardens Kew at Wakehurst Place, designed by Paul Williams of Stanton Williams Architects. The building and project achievements will be a legacy for RBG Kew, the World and the Planet. More recently he has delivered multiple healthcare projects across the world, which similarly have made great differences to the local population.
What are your passions outside of work?
My wife and children, Cycling, bridges and travelling – particularly to Africa and seing the wildlife there – we have just returned from the Okovango Delta – stunning place.
Jazz and walking with our Irish red-setter in the country.
How did you get into construction?
My father had his own QS business and my mother worked for Wiltshiers and then Tarmac Contractors. I was surrounded by the Construction Industry – and it was just natural that I became a Civil Engineer.
Do you have a favourite building?
Utilising and melding historical form and function was brilliantly achieved by Norman Foster with the iconic refurbishment of the Reichstag Building in Berlin ! The vision for the transformation of the Reichstag is rooted in four related issues: the Bundestag’s significance as a democratic forum, an understanding of history, a commitment to accessibility and a strong environmental agenda for its time. As found, the Reichstag was mutilated by war and insensitive rebuilding. Fosters explained that this retrofit project takes its direction from the original fabric; the layers of history were peeled away to reveal striking imprints of the past – stonemason’s marks and Russian graffiti − scars that have been preserved as a ‘living museum’ on the lower level. But in other respects it is a radical departure; within its heavy shell, it is both light and transparent, with its activities all on view.
The general public and politicians enter the building together and the public realm continues onto the roof in the terrace restaurant and in the cupola, where ramps lead to an observation platform, allowing people to journey aloft symbolically above the heads of their political representatives in the chamber. The cupola is now an established Berlin landmark with an incredible vista across the city. Symbolic of its rebirth, it also drives the building’s natural lighting and ventilation strategies. At its core is a ‘light sculptor’ that reflects horizon light down into the chamber (almost like an inverted light-house), while a sun-shield tracks the path of the sun to block solar gain and glare. As night falls, this process is reversed – the cupola becomes a beacon on the skyline, suggested to signal the strength of the revitalised German democratic process.
Who inspires you?
Santiago Calatrava, – with his incredible ability to merge engineering and architectural form into stunning bridges and buildings – have a look at the bridges he designed over the Guadalquivir in Sevilla.
What skills and characteristics do you look for in people?
I look for team players, articulate with strong communication skills, and with a high degree of emotional intelligence. Project Management is fundamentally about people management, (while taking technical excellence as a given).