Exclusive: Tall buildings expert Steve Watts and head of offices Iain Parker both exiting the firm
Two of the leaders of Davis Langdon’s prized London-based commercial team are exiting the firm.
Building can reveal Davis Langdon’s head of tall buildings Steve Watts and head of offices Iain Parker – who between them count the Shard, the Leadenhall Building and JP Morgan Chase’s Canary Wharf headquarters to their credit – handed in their notices this month and will depart 30 April.
Building can also reveal Davis Langdon’s former head of the UK southern region Peter Boote is also leaving to join rival firm Mace’s cost consultancy division. The three directors are the latest in a raft of senior figures to depart the firm since its 2010 takeover by Aecom.
Almost half of Davis Langdon’s former equity partners in Europe and the Middle East – 35 out of 74, or 47%, according to Building’s analysis – have now left the firm since it voted through the takeover.
Former partners have previously suggested the high level of departures is directly linked to the Aecom takeover, but Parker and Watts denied dissatisfaction with Aecom was a factor in
Davis Langdon’s London office, which has traditionally focused on commercial work, has been disproportionately hit by departures, with 19 out of 30 former equity partners leaving.
Watts and Parker have been running Davis Langdon’s London commercial team - alongside Aecom’s head of real estate in Europe Alex Davey - for four months, after former head of commercial Paul Allen departed in November.
Watts said he would continue to assist Aecom on “a specific international project over the coming months”. “Having had the privilege of working on some of the best projects - with the smartest people - in the industry, I am going to try something new, different and fresh,” he said.
Parker said he had decided to move on to “pursue new challenges”. “I have been very lucky to have led on so many great schemes with so many great people, both internally and externally,” he said.
Peter Flint, Aecom’s buildings and places lead in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said Davis Langdon’s commercial team had “huge strength in depth” and would be bolstered by new appointments and transfers from its Middle East division in the coming weeks. He added the firm has “seen all our clients and we have [transition] plans in place”.
He said: “London commercial is a very important part of the EMEA market. We’ve had great success in London and we continue to have great success in London and it continues to be a focus.”
Steve Watts has been at Davis Langdon since 1997. He was involved in the early stages of the Pinnacle and is a board member of the world’s leading authority on tall buildings, the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Parker has spent his whole career of 26 years at Davis Langdon and has worked on London’s Bishops Square in Spitalfields, One London Wall and 125 Old Broad Street.
Boote leaves after he was moved into a different role based out of the Southampton office in the autumn, after the firm scrapped a level of regional managers for the North, South and London.
The reorganisation saw former head of the north David Daly depart the firm, while former head of London John Lewis was relocated to lead Davis Langdon’s project and program management business in Asia.
Steve Watts said: “After over 15 years with the firm, and having had the privilege of working on some of the best projects - with the smartest people - in the industry, I am going to try something new, different and fresh.
“I am grateful for the opportunities and incredible experiences that I’ve enjoyed, from leading our teams on the HSBC tower at Canary Wharf and The Shard at London Bridge to heading the global Tall Buildings Group.
“I will continue to assist AECOM on a specific international project over the coming months. I will also maintain my positions at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, including final preparations for its annual conference, which this year comes to London on 11-13 June (in which AECOM among others is involved).
“I will leave with happy memories, and my best wishes for the business in its future endeavours.”
Iain Parker said: “After 26 fantastic years at Davis Langdon I have decided to move on to pursue new challenges. I have been very lucky to have led on so many great schemes with so many great people, both internally and externally, and I have been fortunate enough to have worked with great clients and architects who continue to have a passion for creating great buildings - many of which define the London skyline”.
“I am looking forward to the next chapter in my career where I will be looking to re-create similarly fantastic experiences. I wish the firm continued success for the future, and depart knowing that it has been a truly special place to work.”