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My working day: Brent Rees of Nightingale Associates

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The architectural technician works in the picturesque setting at Harwell

My current position as an architectural technician at Nightingale Associates began in early summer 2010. I previously graduated from Bristol UWE in 2006 with a degree in Architectural Technology and Design, with a one year placement in an office near Cheltenham. The following four years were spent gaining experience on the other side of the Severn Bridge in my homeland, at another practice based in Cardiff.

A typical day in the office starts at around 8:30am, although this can vary considerably if I choose to cycle in place of taking the car from Oxford to the picturesque setting at Harwell. First duties of the day involve checking and filing emails, before assessing and prioritising upcoming tasks.

Having a technical background, I frequently work in the later stages of projects from planning through to completion

Having a technical background, I frequently work in the later stages of projects from planning through to completion. The later stages mean I am able to utilise my technical knowledge and organisational skills to provide detailed design information, resolve site queries and coordinate consultant information. The other benefit is attending site meetings and the reward of seeing the building design come to life.

I currently work on a mixture of science and healthcare projects, both of which have provided the opportunity to work on some complex projects at varying scales. An example of which is the £20m Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst; a pair of buildings incorporating a mixture of laboratory and office space for emerging bio-tech companies.

The envelopes included seven different cladding types ranging from photovoltaic panels, to zinc shingles, to inflatable ETFE pillows, providing some challenging detailing and construction issues on a very tight programme. Another contrasting example is the Royal Berkshire Hospital Linac Extension; a much smaller project worth £3m. The provision of a new linear accelerator bunker with ancillary spaces to link two existing listed buildings required working with new radiation shielding construction technology on a very busy and compact site.

The latest development in my office is a Building Information Modelling (BIM) project at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kettering, on which I am playing a key role. The shift from using CAD to BIM for construction project delivery is very topical, and this is providing an exciting opportunity to develop new skills and help implement the new workflow.

During my time with Nightingale, I have also been appointed as quality manager for the Harwell office in order to oversee items relating the company’s Quality Assurance certification, which runs in parallel with my architectural duties. I have also been fortunate enough to spend six months on secondment in Boston, Massachusetts at the local IBI Group office.

My working day usually concludes after 5:30pm when I will often go for a run around Oxford, or occasionally play a game of 7-a-side football for the Nightingale team against other construction company teams in the area.

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