We are pleased to announce that Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture, Jim Drinan, Executive Director of the American Planning Association, and John Comazzi, Associate Professor of Architecture in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, have been appointed to the AAO Board of Directors. This month, we're featuring a Q&A with Peter Murray.
1. For our members who haven't met you, please briefly describe yourself.
I trained as an architect but have spent most of my career writing about architecture and communicating its delights and benefits to a wider audience, rather than practicing it. I have edited and published a number of magazines including the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal; I curated exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts on architects like Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, James Stirling and Tadao Ando as well as one on Inhabited Bridges which led to the current proposal for a Garden Bridge across the Thames designed by Thomas Heatherwick. I’ve written a few books including The Saga of Sydney Opera House, The Manser Houses (Michael Manser is the UK’s version of Craig Ellwood) and, about to the published, The Leadenhall Building, the latest office building from Richard Rogers’ team.
I am Non-Executive President of Wordsearch, a design and communications company specializing in real estate and architecture. I started the company in 1983 and it has grown into the largest consultancy of its kind, operating globally with offices in London, Singapore, Sydney, Beijing and New York and working on a range of large scale urban projects including One World Trade Center and Hudson Yards.
I am Chairman of New London Architecture center, Chairman of the London Society (similar to MAS in New York), Deputy Chair of my local amenity society in Bedford Park (the first garden suburb built in 1875-85) and a member of the London Mayor’s Design Advisory Group. I am a keen cyclist and in 2013 cycled from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place London, England (yes, we flew from New York to Shannon, Ireland) and am involved in campaigns to increase the quality of cycling infrastructure in London and to improve road safety for vulnerable road users particularly in the face of the dangers created by construction trucks.
New London Architecture's 1:2000 scale model of central London.
2. As a way to get to know you, what are you working on now or what recent projects would you like to share with our readers?
Right now I am Master Architect in the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects, which is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. These are ancient guilds, some of them dating back to the 13th century, which regulated skills and quality and supported apprenticeships in the trades and professions. This involves supporting architecture students, outreach to schools, commenting on new buildings in the City of London, funding scholarships and prizes, and promoting London as a global creating and construction skills hub. It also includes lots of dinners in the magnificent Livery Halls (an all too secret treasure), speeches and dressing up in traditional Livery dress.
Company of Chartered Architects Installation Lunch: L-R Richard Brindley, Senior Warden; Peter Murray, Master; Richard Rogers; Stephen Wagstaffe, Renter Warden; Barry Munday, Junior Warden.
The New London Architecture Centre’s program revolves around the London Plan which is written by the Mayor. A new Mayor takes office in May 2016 and thus we will have a new plan - a lot of our work will be involved with promulgating the policies proposed for the plan and driving the debate among the public and professionals to help shape a city that can accommodate its exponential growth while creating better places and buildings.
3. Tell us about the skills and expertise that you bring to the AAO Board.
I have long term experience in explaining and debating architectural and urban issues. The NLA has an interesting commercial model and event structure which we are pleased to share with other similar organizations.
4. What excites you most about AAO?
Sharing information and ideas with like-minded people and organizations.
5. What impact do you hope to see AAO achieve by the end of your board term?
I hope that we will have created a well-connected network of centers in Europe and Asia that can contribute to delivering the aims and supporting the global program of AAO.