The award-winning architect, Howarth Litchfield (HL), is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a raft of new project wins.
The practice is experiencing one of the most buoyant periods in its trading history, despite the uncertainty reported in other sectors of the economy.
Originally cutting its teeth on hospitality, commercial and medical practice work – sectors which helped develop both the architecture and interiors aspects of the business – HL now takes on projects across a broader range of specialist areas including education, residential, conservation and ecclesiastical.
Within the education sector, HL has recently finished a junior school in Morpeth, has just begun work on the remodelling and refurbishment of the Royal Grammar School’s sixth form building and recently, three ecclesiastical projects have come its way for alterations and extensions to churches in the Sunderland and Co Durham areas.
With a particularly strong reputation for its heritage and conservation work, HL is currently working on several notable projects including the redevelopment of Neville Hall in Newcastle, the Shildon Railway Museum in Co Durham, and in Gosforth, the conversion of a former coach house to create eight prestige apartments – each of which is likely to fetch in the high six figures when construction ends in 2020.
Commissions continue in the luxury residential sector and clients trust the discretion, integrity and skill that HL brings to this unique sector.
In a year that has also seen the purchase of new premises at Belmont Business Park, which have made a huge impact on how staff feel and collaborate, the future looks bright, according to managing director, Jonathan Yates, who says there are many more projects in the pipeline across all sectors.
Talking about HL’s success, he says: “I joined Howarth Litchfield 28 years ago and the business has continued to evolve and grow. For example, interior design has always been a cornerstone of our design offer and when I joined, the interior designers produced the most amazing pencil and water colour sketches. Now they use a virtual model.
“We have always sought to be ahead of the game in our use and operation of 3D tools. The advent of BIM and 3D modelling has led to greater control and efficiency and recently, adding VR to the client end user experience so that they can walk around the development to see the spaces some considerable time before site execution, is bringing obvious benefits.
“Awareness of the business has also been enhanced by a series of high profile and award-winning projects across various sectors over the years, so I believe we are the go-to firm for many clients, which is most gratifying.
“It’s been great to build a successful and dynamic design practice in the North East that is recognised nationally for its quality of work. The hunger for more success keeps me motivated in a job I simply love.”
Jonathan Yates, who joined the firm one year earlier than fellow director, Neil Turner, believes the next five years will be like no other as society faces dramatic changes across the world, which will impact massively on how we perceive our future.
Neil Turner adds: “We will continue to grow the HL brand across architecture, interiors, building surveying and who knows what else. We are most certainly moving ahead with our vision for growth and welcome the challenges to come.
“We will also be expanding the work force. We currently have 28 staff and are committed to growth – when we find talented people with the right fit. We have recently taken on two Part 2 graduates who are getting stuck into a whole range of designs from conservation to multi-million-pound urban regeneration opportunities in London.
“We also have a good mix of projects from £2m up to £33m. This allows us to use and further develop our breadth of experience. You can’t get too comfortable in business; you must keep on moving and constantly adapting to change.”
Jonathan adds: “It’s amazing really, to think I started here as a graduate architect in 1990 and I am now the oldest in the team … how did that happen? But it is still great fun and every day is so different, which keeps the creative passion flowing.”