December 7, 2018
In December 2017, Peter Swift merged his business with Dunwoodie Architects to lay the foundations for a stronger combined business built on the history of the 28-year-old practice, with Peter joining Laura Ruxton as a director.
“My career in architecture began when my father took me around building sites, leading to us building our own house and me subsequently considering a career in architecture. It also enabled me to speak with some knowledge in my university interviews on the practical side of the profession. I do vividly remember being able to recite the dimensions of a brick, which clearly clinched the place for me,” he reflects.
Following seven years studying, Peter started work at the Alan J Smith Partnership, followed by Couves Ltd, before becoming a director at Dewjoc Architects and then starting on his own in 2011.
“I did this in the middle of the recession, so setting up my own practice was a bit of a risk. However, I had maintained relationships which paid off quickly as I was appointed by McAleer & Rushe to take the £100 million Newgate Centre in Newcastle to planning.”
The move to join with Dunwoodie Architects satisfied the needs of both parties, as Peter explains: “I met with Laura last year after I had been researching shipping container developments. I have lost projects in the past as I was no longer with a larger organisation but was determined that this was not going to happen again. I knew the strengths of the team from having worked there previously so was aware they had the attributes that I needed.
“The timing was ideal as Laura was looking for someone with experience to help her develop the business,” says Peter. “We are very different people. Laura has worked at Dunwoodies since coming to the UK fromColombia 13 years ago and has helped establish the practice in the highly specialised area of healthcare architecture, to the extent that the practice is now widely recognised as an industry leader.”
Peter and Laura want to grow and strengthen the healthcare side of the business but Peter’s arrival is intended to expand the practice’s coverage into other areas – primarily commercial and retail where he has wide experience.
In their first few months, Dunwoodie has successfully delivered consultancy services to the Maltese Government for a 350,000sq ft Outpatients Building (where Laura presented the scheme to the Deputy Prime Minister) and also developed the Stack shipping container development in the centre of Newcastle.
“The timing of these two projects wasperfect for us,” says Peter. “They sum up what we are trying to do with the business, ie continuing with the long established and much respected healthcare side of the practice, but also changing perceptions almost overnight by delivering such a high-profile contemporary development in the city centre.
“This is something we want to build upon, with other similar schemes in the pipeline.Whilst Stack is by no means the highest-value project I have been involved in over the years, it is without doubt one of the most high profile. We are fast approaching the end of our first year in business together but really couldn’t have expected to get off to such an exciting start!”