Mark Shirburne-Davies becomes contractor’s head of architecture and carries out design policy review

Laing O’Rourke has poached a former design director of BAA for its newly created post of architectural director.

Mark Shirburne-Davies has been carrying out a review of the contractor’s design procedures and will present his findings to Ray O’Rourke, its chairman, and Tony Douglas, its chief operating officer, later this month.

It is expected that he will recommend that basic design work carried out by external consultants be brought in-house.

Shirburne-Davies said: “We want to make the process easier. We still get huge inefficiencies over the design, which often sees the company doing them again.”

Laing O’Rourke’s education business will pilot the system from the new year. Shirburne-Davies recommended that its projects use more standardised designs. He said: “Not every school has to be designed from scratch. There have to be some common components across the board.”

Douglas brought Shirburne-Davies across from developer First Base, where he was development director, at the end of October but the move was kept secret while he completed his review.

Douglas and Shirburne-Davies worked together at BAA, where the latter was development and design director until the autumn of 2007. Douglas had left his position as managing director of Heathrow airport to join Laing O’Rourke earlier that year.

Prior to his stint at the airport operator, Shirburne-Davies spent 14 years at Terry Farrell and Partners. Among his projects were the Kowloon Airport in Hong Kong, on which he was the project architect, and Paddington Basin in west London.

Shirburne-Davies said: “Laing O’Rourke needs to get modern methods of construction embedded early on so designs reflect that.”