Tim Bowder-Ridger tells Building about horses, Seiko watches and his love for Norman Foster


What has been your biggest career challenge to date? 

The conversion of Centre Point Tower, one of London’s most iconic buildings.

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? 

Diminish the male domination quicker than we are doing at the moment. Also, the planning and procurement process: it seems to dilute and weaken all the best design ideas when it should be supporting and encouraging them. But, then again, crude cost-cutting being described as “value-engineering” is a constant irritant – call it what it is! 

Most helpful advice you were ever given? 

“Don’t let the b*****ds grind you down” – from my father in 1985.


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What’s your favourite building in the world? 

Right now, the Prada Foundation in Milan (right), after having a good look at it at Design Week this year. Great mixture of new and old. Some parts pristine and some gently – but not over – restored.

Who do you most admire in the construction industry? 

Norman Foster: he just keeps giving with such energy and interest in the world.

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

The Neues Museum in Berlin by David Chipperfield. It is a beautiful example of layering the history and personality of a building and ensuring it stays relevant, without falling into a pastiche trap.

What’s it like being you? 

Frustrating … I should be doing more.


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Name three things that you like. 

Horses, cold dry sake and Rothko paintings.

What trait do you most dislike in yourself? 

Being impatient with people who just don’t get what seems to be obvious. 

And in other people? 

Not getting what seems to be obvious.

What do you think your best quality is? 

Taking what I do very seriously, but not taking myself too seriously (another thing my father insisted on!).

Do you have a life philosophy? 

The glass is always half full.

What’s a secret skill we don’t know you have? 

Falling off horses without hurting myself (at least not too much).

What’s your most prized possession? 

My father’s coaxial Seiko watch from the 1960s. He was a soldier and it travelled the world with him through thick and thin.

Early bird or night owl?

Early bird now. I used to be both.


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What’s your favourite food? 

Japanese. I spend a lot of time in Japan and have discovered just how good food can be, through the use of super-fresh ingredients and their simple treatment.

What would your super-power be? 

Being able to draw beautifully and very quickly.