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Video | Armitt urges civils industry to modernise

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.

Sir John Armitt's Presidential address highlights

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.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Mark Wray

    At Innovate UK ( we are very keen to support this drive towards higher levels of innovation and collaborative working in the built environment sector. We offer support through funding and connecting to find, prove, grow and scale opportunities to form successful businesses.

    To find out more about our past projects from the last 8 years - see -

    Our current investment opportunity in this sector is for feasibility studies under our "Cities Integrated by Design" which similarly explores why do we continue to deliver infrastructure systems in isolation when the greater value is in integrated solutions. See - for details.

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