Paul Reed and Suzanne Blair Associate directors at GT3 Architects
What were your career ambitions growing up?
PR: From a very early age I had ambitions to be an architect. I was always very interested in art and design, constantly drawing anything and everything. Alongside this, I have always had a strong interest in both sciences and maths. Architecture seemed to be a perfect outlet for both the creative and methodical aspects that I enjoyed.
SB: I think I went through every career possible; from air hostess to zoo keeper, but often dwelled on creative roles. I developed an interest initially in subjects like product design before finding out more about architecture through a fellow student a school.
What attracted you to your current role?
PR: I was excited by the opportunity to join a young, agile practice with a strong culture and to play a strategic part in its continued growth.
SB: GT3 Architects had just formed following a merger which seemed like a great opportunity. I saw the chance to get involved in a growing business and be part of the team that shaped and developed it.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
PR: Within any role there are always going to be certain aspects that you find more difficult than others, whether it be project or people based. Personally, my biggest test is to balance both of these equally but these challenges are what keep the role fresh and interesting!
SB: Switching from non-project activities in to project mode takes a lot of mental focus and it’s also sometimes tricky to get your head around the business side of things. Having trained as an architect and not in anything business related, it can take some time to understand that side of things!.
What are you currently working on?
PR: My background is as a sports and leisure architect. I am the associate director responsible for supporting the growth of our work in this sector and I am leading a number of leisure schemes both locally and nationally, alongside an R&D project into a community led leisure concept. In addition to this I am very much enjoying my lead role on the Gateshead town centre master plan which has an added incentive as it is my home town.
SB: As a team leader I oversee several projects, from a £20 million leisure centre in East London, which is on site, to a 18 storey residential tower in Newcastle that’s close to going in for planning, whilst also developing a bespoke consultation strategy for a community hub near Manchester. I’ve also recently taken on the role of Education Lead within the practice to grow that sector.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
PR: When you are busy, deal with things in bite size chunks. It’s one that I pass down to others I work with as I think it immediately allows perspective on a situation.
SB: Look after yourself first – it’s easy to slip into the habit of always putting everyone and everything first and thinking that this is the best way to support them. However, if you’re not ok yourself then you’re not usually much use to anyone else at work or at home.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
PR: I’d like to grow our sports and leisure expertise into other sectors of higher education and elite sport, whilst positioning ourselves as a thought leader in the sector. Continuing to grow the practice in a sustained manner whilst maintaining the practice culture is important to me.
SB: I always hate this question as I like to stay open minded to what opportunities might come my way. At the moment we’re undergoing a lot of strategising at GT3 to shape the future of the business and there are some exciting opportunities emerging out of that. I was born and raised in the North East and now live in city centre Newcastle and would love to become more involved in what is happening locally through the various industry groups and initiatives that are out there.