An Interview with James Webster (Special Projects Lead)

For our final blog in celebration of World Architecture Day at the beginning of this week, we have spoken to James Webster, an Architectural Technologist at GSSArchitecture who leads our Special Projects Team.

“I expressed an interest and aptitude for art and technical drawing at a young age, which was noticed by others who suggested that I would grow up to be become an Architect. After studying one year of BA Architecture, I favoured the technical side and changed my course, obtaining a HND in Architectural Technology.  My first job thereafter was surveying and adapting existing historical buildings for a Country Estate, during which I obtained a BSC (Hons) in Building.

I have worked in the industry for about 24 years, with 18 years spent at GSSArchitecture so far! I moved to GSS from a small practice as I wanted to work in a larger practice, where I hoped I would be able to expand my career prospects and remuneration. 

As Special Projects Lead, a typical day in my role involves managing many accounts, at various stages of different projects. The projects taken on by the Special Projects Team are usually based around maintenance, adaption and restoration of existing buildings ranging in age, with a specialism in dealing with logistically challenging projects. The nature of this work means that the team I manage usually need to work to tight deadlines. I make sure to regularly attend site, along with meetings with clients and other stakeholders, in order to ensure all projects are moving forward successfully.

Some of my favourite parts of my job involve taking a project from initial brief right through to completion, by acting as the sole liaison to all the various parties involved. I also enjoy the process of adapting existing buildings to meet new needs, against the challenges of keeping sites live during the construction phase. These projects allow the buildings to be more suitable for the current needs of the client, so it is very gratifying knowing your work has made a difference.

I’m currently working on the construction phase of improvements to the building fabric of the Grade II* Listed Hind Hotel, in Wellingborough, as well as detailed design for the re-ordering and refurbishment of a large Church. Working in the Special Projects Team means I cover a wide range of sectors every day, including Heritage, Commercial and Education, so there is a good amount of variety in my role.

My advice to anyone looking to begin a career in the industry would be to try and undertake some work experience. It may be worthwhile considering an apprenticeship, as an alternative to high university costs. There are a range of different options available to anyone looking to pursue a career in this field, so it’s important to research these and choose something that is best suited to how you learn.”

Make sure to check out all of the blogs and interviews we carried out this week, to get a more in depth look at some of the other roles within GSSArchitecture. Keep an eye on our social media channels for updates and announcements on the latest projects being carried out by the Practice.