New ICE president Sir John Armitt has urged the civils profession to embrace change.
The former London 2012 delivery chief used his presidential address last night to call for rapid progress in the industry.
Armitt was recently named as a National Infrastructure Commissioner and will lead the ICE for a year.
He said: “In the last 50 to 60 years we have seen major developments in other branches of engineering: in communications, medicine, energy, and in new materials and their applications.
“There is today a tendency to believe that anything is possible and an impatience for improvement and change. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our industry. Over recent decades we have been too slow – or too conservative – when compared to other disciplines.”
Armitt also called for industry to spend more time thinking about the reasons for infrastructure projects.
“When talking about major infrastructure projects, I often refer to the why, what and how,” he said.
“I argue that too often we like to focus on the what and the how; which appeal to our natural sense of design and delivery, or to a client’s desire to see quick physical results. But we do not spend long enough on the why. Why do we need to build? Why this project over alternatives? Why is this 70-year solution appropriate, or will 20 years do? Can we make more efficient use of existing infrastructure?”
Read the full speech here.