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High Speed | Design Monitoring

Ensuring High Speed 2 delivers on its aspirations to be a world-beater in design falls to the Design Panel.

The High Speed 2 (HS2) Design Vision, launched last March by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, sets out how all involved with the project will help to drive this ambition.

It aims to instil design excellence in every aspect of the project to help it reach its social, economic and environmental potential. 

The project’s ability to adhere to this vision will be policed by a 40-strong independent design panel of extraordinary quality, chaired by eminent architect Sadie Morgan. 

And Morgan is super-excited by the challenge.

Rendering of Euston station

Rendering of Euston station

Euston station entrance design

“The UK is renowned for its engineering expertise; so what an extraordinary opportunity this is to bring the best from around the world and make something world-beating – not world class; world-beating,” she reiterates. “What an achievement that will be.”

Morgan explains that her panel is intended to act as a “critical friend” of HS2 and its work.

“My remit is to make sure HS2 delivers on its design vision. Ultimately I report to the secretary of state so I think my role is taken extremely seriously.

That is not to say we are not critical. We are a critical friend

“We have a huge responsibility to the general public to hold HS2 Ltd to account. HS2 needs to work not only for its passengers, but for all the communities it affects. 

“It should respect and enhance the environment and stand the test of time,” she says.

But she wants to emphasise the “friend” part of the panel’s critical friend role. “I’ve been quite clear with the way I’m going to run it – and that’s through mentoring, inspiring and enabling rather than gate post reviewing.

Delivering a vision

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get the message across that this is not a pin up and take down exercise. This is about how we can help deliver on a vision. 

“That is not to say we are not critical. We are a critical friend. But if that criticism is done in a collaborative and supportive way, and if we have trust and have inspirational leaders, then we can help make things less costly; we can address community concerns; and we can make this the best it can be.”

It’s all about collaboration. “The message is: ‘what you do may be great. But let’s take that, add our skills and ideas and see how we can take it even further’. With the will and proper mentoring every single person is able to lift themselves and deliver more,” she explains.

Tight programme

She also is well aware of the need for rapid decision making. “The programme is incredibly tight. So the design panel needs to be light on its feet; making sure it isn’t holding anything up. Hence waiting and reviewing, with the prospect of sending someone back to start again, is not the clever way of working.

The key, says Morgan, will be getting good design into the project’s DNA. That will happen by working to ensure management systems are engineered to enable teams to deliver the highest quality of design.

And by quality of design she means much more than architectural design.

“Architecture is a red herring. That’s my background but it’s not reflective of the panel itself,” says Morgan. 

Army of experts

She has picked her 40-strong army of experts representing many different design disciplines to oversee the design development of HS2. It is a real mix, with procurement experts, engineers, designers, landscape architects and more.

The real challenge is going to be starting with, and maintaining, a future-looking approach.

 “In order to achieve the highest quality of design we need to be future-proofed,” she states. “We have to design now for 20 years ahead, so that in 20 years this feels like a modern, extraordinary railway.

And Morgan stresses that the influence of the design vision extends beyond the stations. 

“We are very much focused on the route between the stations and the communities that are affected. So we must commission, for example, bridges and hard landscaping that is the best it can be.”

And while Morgan accepts that much of the design will be standardised, that should not mean standard designs.

“This railway has to be designed to best value. But it has to be well designed – whether there is standardisation or not. Everybody has to step up to deliver that kind of industrialised process – contractors, suppliers. Everybody has to step up to the mark. And if everybody is cognisant of that then we will be stronger than the sum of our parts and that’s where you get your value.

“It happened on London 2012,” she states, which is handy given Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive Sir David Higgins is now HS2 Ltd chairman. “Sir David saw the value of championing design and making sure individuals –whether contractors, architects or designers - continually challenged on highest quality all the way.

“You cannot underplay the role of design champions. Sometimes you just need that someone who lifts the mood,” she says. And do that, and the results will be there.

“It is super-exciting,” she says. “The talent we have available is incredible. “So if HS2 is able to take the best of the expertise that is on offer and collectively use that expertise… it is so exciting.”

The panel

HS2 Independent Design Panel members

Sadie Morgan, Chair of the HS2 Design Panel

Sadie Morgan is a co-founding director of the award-winning practice dRMM Architects, renowned for creating innovative, high quality and socially useful architecture. As of November 2015, she is also a member of the newly formed National Infrastructure Commission, led by former Cabinet Minister Lord Adonis.

Paul Appleby

Paul Appleby advises design and masterplanning teams on the integrated sustainable design of buildings and communities. He has worked in the construction industry as a consultant, lecturer and researcher for 45 years, including 25 years’ consultancy experience running practices specialising in healthy buildings and sustainability.

Reuben Arnold

Reuben Arnold is senior vice president, marketing and customer experience, at Virgin Atlantic Airways and is responsible for the airline’s customer experience offering in the air and on the ground. He also oversees all aspects of design across the business, including cabin interiors and airport environments.

Hiro Aso

Hiro Aso is an award winning UK-based specialist in the architectural design and delivery of regenerative transport hubs. He has been involved in major railway infrastructure projects in the UK since the iconic Jubilee Line extension in London in the 1990s.

David Bonnett

David Bonnett is a consultant architect with a background in both local authority and private practice. He has run architectural projects from inception to completion for housing, offices and public buildings. During 14 years working with local authorities he pioneered many aspects of accessible design.

Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an architect with over 15 years’ experience in designing and leading a range of major infrastructure projects. He worked with John McAslan for 15 years and then in 2006 co-founded Landolt + Brown. His project experience includes King’s Cross Western Concourse which he led from inception to the early stages of construction.

Patricia Brown

As director of niche consultancy Central, Patricia Brown works with a range of cross-sector clients, who draw on her understanding of the dynamics of cities and the inter-connection of business, public services and communities. She is deputy chair of the mayor’s Design Advisory Group.

Tony Burton

Tony Burton works on a wide range of community and sustainability projects and has 25 years’ experience on the boards of conservation and community based charities. He is Executive Chair of Sustainable Homes, and an independent member of Tarmac’s sustainability panel.

James O’Callaghan

James O’Callaghan is an authority on the structural use of glass. He is perhaps best known for his highly innovative glass stairs, bridges, façades and other structural elements in a range of Apple’s flagship retail stores including Tokyo, Sydney, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York and London.

Caroline Cole

Caroline Cole runs Colander Associates, a consultancy that bridges the divide between clients and their consultants. She works with architects, landscape architects, designers and engineers to help them to run effective creative businesses.

Annie Coombs

Annie Coombs is a landscape architect and Fellow of the Landscape Institute, with a master’s degree in planning. She worked in Asia for over 15 years, most recently as managing director of the Asian businesses of an international environmental consultancy, sitting on the main board.

Nathalie de Vries

Nathalie de Vries is an architect and urbanist. She is director and co-founder of globally operating architecture and urban planning firm MVRDV, which she set up together with Winy Maas and Jacob van Rijs in 1993.

Dan Epstein

Dan Epstein is the director and founder of Useful Simple Projects, a design led consultancy for that works with organisations and on major urban development projects to develop sustainability strategies and identify opportunities for innovation.

Daisy Froud

Daisy Froud is a spatial and cultural strategist. She supports communities, clients and architects in developing briefs for architectural projects, in undertaking research to inform decision-making, and in conducting meaningful stakeholder engagement and community-led design review.

Richard George

Richard George is the managing director of Interfleet Technology. He has had a long and distinguished career at a senior level in the transport industry. Previously he held the position of Director of Transport for LOCOG, the organisers of the 2012 London Olympics.

Johanna Gibbons

Johanna Gibbons is a landscape architect and founding partner of J & L Gibbons LLP. She is a Fellow of the Landscape Institute and serves on several advisory panels including Historic England, The Forestry Commission, and Cambridgeshire County Council.

Clive Grinyer

Clive Grinyer is Customer Experience Director in the Design Office at Barclays plc. Clive leads design teams in developing new digital services and experiences based on creativity, design thinking and customer insight.

Tom Holbrook

Tom Holbrook s design practice has developed an approach to strategic thinking that explores the dynamic between architecture and the scale of infrastructure and landscape. The relationship between research and practice has encouraged design innovation and a fresh attitude towards conservation, environmental sustainability and complex regeneration projects.

Glenn Howells

Since establishing Glenn Howells Architects 25 years ago, Glenn Howells has built a strong reputation for designing innovative buildings and shaping areas of cities. He has led the practice, with studios in Birmingham and London, to win many major design competitions, and over 120 awards from industry organisations.

Hanif Kara

Hanif Kara combines structural engineering practice with teaching, currently appointed as Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology at Graduate School of Design, Harvard. As design director and co-founder of AKT II, his particular ‘design-led’ approach and interest in innovative form, material uses, and complex analysis methods have allowed him to work on numerous award-winning, pioneering projects.

David Kester

David Kester runs the strategic business consultancy DK&A which specialises in orchestrating design and innovation projects within business and government. David has 20 years’ experience leading world-class creative organisations.

Martin Knight

Martin Knight is a leading UK architect specialising in bridge and transport infrastructure. He established Knight Architects in 2006, following nine years at Wilkinson Eyre Architects, where he was responsible for bridges including the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Alister Kratt

Alister Kratt is board director at LDA Design, a global environmental design business based in the UK with projects around the world. He specializes in large, multidisciplinary projects and development in sensitive contexts.

Alistair Lenczner

Alistair Lenczner is a highly experienced cross-discipline designer who has worked on many building and infrastructure projects internationally. Alistair has been instrumental in the design of projects such as the new Wembley Stadium, the Millau Viaduct in France and the Haramain High Speed Railway Stations in Saudi Arabia.

Mike Luddy

Mike Luddy was appointed Managing Director of the Royal Docks in 2011. The Royal Docks is responsible for managing the largest enclosed docks in the world, as well as setting the vision for, and working actively alongside other partners to create and implement, a number of significant regeneration projects.

Selina Mason

Selina Mason is a masterplanner and architect and board director at LDA Design, which she joined in 2014. She has a wealth of experience commissioning and delivering complex urban masterplans. She led the design and delivery of London’s post-games transformation masterplan for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and then the London Legacy Development Corporation.

Peter Maxwell

Peter Maxwell is a chartered architect, town planner and urban designer. He has 15 years’ senior level experience, and has led the implementation of major projects, programmes and best practice to a consistently high standard in the UK, Middle East and New Zealand.

Kathryn Moore

Kathryn Moore is the President of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) and a professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University. She has published extensively on design quality, theory, education and practice.

Marie Bak Mortensen

Marie Bak Mortensen is Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation at the RIBA, where she is the creative lead for public-facing exhibitions and events. Marie moved to the UK in 2009 to develop and deliver strategic national programmes and partnership exhibitions at Tate.

Lucy Musgrave

Lucy Musgrave is the founding director of Publica and a leading practitioner in the fields of urbanism and the public realm. Over a 20-year career, Lucy has played a key advisory role in policy recommendations, strategic planning and urban design frameworks, and in the advocacy of design quality.

Greg Nugent

Greg Nugent joined LOCOG in May 2009, serving as chief marketing officer for the London 2012 Olympics. Overseeing the design, research and polling teams, Greg was responsible for everything from customer relationships to the look and feel of the Games.

Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens is a co-founder of WilsonOwensOwens Architects (WOO), a firm committed to championing design and delivering exceptional projects through collaboratively challenging preconceived ideas of process, application, and execution.

Tina Paillet

Tina Paillet is an international real estate executive with over 25 years’ experience in the real estate field, and is currently head of UK and North America for Generali Real Estate (GRE). She is in charge of steering the group’s activity and diversification strategy within the UK and North American business unit.

Carol Patterson

Carol Patterson is an OMA director and country manager for the UK. During her 15 years at OMA, and preceding 10 years as a New York architect, she has managed the complexity of historical preservation, political turf wars, and challenging logistics under budget and deadline pressure.

Luke Pearson

Luke Pearson is an industrial designer and founding partner of the London design studio PearsonLloyd. The studio works in environments that have demanding spatial, ergonomic and social needs, such as healthcare, aviation, workplace and cities.

Sam Richards

Sam Richards is Head of Urban Integration at Crossrail, a post he has held since 2008. In this role he has led and managed the largest programme of urban realm improvements associated with an infrastructure project in this country.

Jonathan Sands

Jonathan Sands OBE is chairman of Elmwood, a leading brand design consultancy renowned for winning more Design Business Association Design Effectiveness Awards than any other consultancy in the history of the scheme.

Ann Sawyer

Ann Sawyer is an architect and access consultant. She has been involved in inclusive design for many years and set up Access=Design in 2005. She has extensive experience covering design, audit and management of accessible built environments, strategic access planning and project brief preparation, as well as training in access, inclusive design and disability issues.

Sir Nicholas Serota

Nicholas Serota has been director of Tate since 1988. In this period Tate has also broadened its field of interest to include twentieth-century photography, film, performance and occasionally architecture, as well as collecting from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Les Sparks

Les Sparks was Director of Planning and Architecture at Birmingham City Council from 1991 to 1999 and Director of Environmental Services at Bath City Council from 1980 to 1991. In 1999 he was appointed as one of the founding commissioners of CABE, leading its early work in setting up regional networking.

Martin Stockley

Martin Stockley is a leading authority on the application of engineering in the design of the built environment. As a practising engineer he has worked on the design of major civil engineering, on buildings (both new and historic) and on streets, parks and public spaces.

Ben Terrett

Ben Terrett is the Group Design Director at the Co-Operative Group, a British consumer cooperative with a diverse family of retail and businesses including food, insurance, funeral care, legal services and electricals.

Raymond Turner

Raymond Turner is an internationally recognized authority on design leadership and management, and their strategic value to business, government and society. He has worked in the design industry for 40 years as a designer, design manager, consultant and corporate director of design leadership.

Paul Watson

Paul Watson is an independent planning and urban design consultant who advises major players in the development industry as well as supporting the Planning Officers Society as a Past President and advising the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Simon Wright

Simon Wright was appointed Programme Director at Crossrail in July 2014, joining from Network Rail, Infrastructure Projects. Previously Simon was Director of Venues and Infrastructure at the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Beatrix Young

Beatrix Young is an architect and partner at Farrells, an internationally recognized firm that has designed some of the world’s most celebrated and iconic buildings. Beatrix has over 15 years’ experience leading multidisciplinary teams and covering a broad range of project types and budgets.


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