Richard Waterhouse on the digital revolution and embracing change

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What has been your biggest career challenge?

Stepping out of being an architect and moving into construction information with NBS. When I first arrived, NBS was a paper-based business; it hadn’t really entered the digital realm. We worked out what problems we could solve for our customers, and key was making it easier for cross-industry collaboration. We then had to create the tools to do this.

What one thing would you change about the industry?

Achieve true collaboration, using technology as an enabler rather than a barrier. The old adversarial relationships between design and construction teams fail everyone, including clients. 

What’s your favourite building in the world?

The Guggenheimin New York (pictured, below). 


What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Be adaptable and keep learning new things. History shows us that people and businesses that do not change become irrelevant. Would you like to lead the change, or suffer the consequences of it?

Who do you most admire in the industry?

Anne Kemp of Atkins/UK BIM Alliance. She has an amazing ability to see the best in people and to turn detractors into advocates. 

What famous building do you wish you’d worked on?

Anything by Santiago Calatrava. His combination of architecture and engineering creates both beautiful spaces and buildings that define their locations.

Which famous building do you most dislike?

Much as I recognise the need to maintain examples of different architectural styles (and we should), I really struggle with examples of brutalist architecture.

What’s it like being you?

I’m from a large family (a seventh son and a twin) and I enjoy team sports. This is now more about watching than playing, especially through my sons, George and Oliver, with rugby and hockey. 

What’s your most prized possession?

We don’t regard her as a possession but Ruby, our French bulldog, gets me out into the countryside and on the beaches, is a wonderful companion and is always pleased to see me! 

Richard Waterhouse is chief executive of NBS