Ray Crane, former chairman of Arup USA, has left to start a US office for Australian consulting engineer the Meinhardt Group.
The move ends a 22-year stint at the multidisciplinary consultant, 12 of which were spent with its American arm. His new employer is opening its own New York office and wants Crane to set it up.

He said he was "hellishly excited" with his role, which he is due to take up in January next year.

"A lot of people have said I am crazy making this jump. It's an opportunity to do something brand new, which is very unusual."

Crane stressed that the move was nothing to do with dissatisfaction with Arup. He said: "It was not for lack of opportunities. It allows me to start from scratch."

The slowdown in the US economy, which contracted 1.1% in the last quarter, is a good time to begin a new venture, according to Crane. "Office space is cheaper, and more people out there are looking to leave their jobs."

A lot of people have said I am crazy making this jump. It’s an opportunity to do something new, which is very unusual

Ray Crane

He added that the downturn would lead American architects to seek work in burgeoning markets such as China. He said his new office could work with Meinhardt's operations in China and Hong Kong.

Crane recently played a significant role in the rescue effort after the World Trade Centre disaster (see news, 21 September, page 13). He also headed up Arup's "extreme events mitigation taskforce", which was examining regulations on tall buildings in the wake of the attacks.

In a statement to employees, Arup chairman Bob Emmerson said Crane's departure would be keenly felt. "Ray has been part of Arup for a long time and his contributions have been many. His energy, enthusiasm and commitment will be missed."