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11. David Marks (LGB '71)

Posted By Alumni Office, vendredi, 6 mars 2015

David MarksMarks Barfield Architects

> Founded 1989

 1. What is your company’s product/service?
We provide architectural services. We aim to put into practice the philosophy that good design has the power to transform the quality of the environment and to improve people’s lives.

Last year we celebrated the practice’s 25th anniversary. In some ways if feels like only yesterday when my wife, Julia Barfield, and I set up the practice. In others, it feels like a lifetime ago; so much has happened, and we’ve experienced so many changes in the world of work as well as in our private lives. Today, virtually all of our work is won through competitions, although ironically our biggest success to date, the London Eye, came out of a competition we didn’t win. In fact, nobody won that particular competition as the judges deemed none of the entries were good enough!

We work across many different sectors, from arts and culture to education, transport, infrastructure (bridges), offices, sports, and leisure attractions. It is wonderfully energising to be engaged in so many different and varied projects, both in the UK and overseas. Together with our studio team, clients and other consultants, we focus on providing an architecture that is sustainable, imaginative, and a pleasure to experience – dreaming, designing, and making real, buildings and structures we can all stand all behind and feel proud of.

2. Where was it founded and where do you now have offices?
The first thing I had to do was persuade Julia to join me. At the time, Julia was happily working in one of the most famous architectural practices in the world, headed up by Norman (now Lord) Foster, and on some pretty prestigious jobs, including the headquarters for Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong, and the Royal Academy of Arts Sackler Galleries in London. I was working on a couple of back extensions and a roof extension. A little bit of competition there!

We started working from a one-time woodshed and model-making shop we built on the side of our South London house to make models for other architects and engineers, before moving (Julia was expecting our second child) to a large light-filled open-plan studio in Clapham Common where we have been for the past 25 years.

3. Number of employees at peak (and now)?
We work with about 25 other architects, designers, and managers. Prior to the global financial crisis we were up to 40-strong.

4. What was the hardest thing about building the company?
I think we have been very lucky. We had early successes. We have worked with great people in a very supportive environment. It’s a cliché, but true that every journey starts with the first step. You won’t know unless you try. You have to be willing to fail, and set realistic as well an unrealistic goals. Try not to make excuses, do work hard, don’t take no for an answer, but be willing to make sacrifices. And never underestimate others. Over the past 25 years we’ve been up, we’ve been down, we’ve been round and round. We’ve won and we’ve lost. We’ve laughed, cried, worried, celebrated, pondered, and partied. We relish a challenge. We never thought, wow, that was hard.

5. Where do you see your company in three years?
Looking forward I hope there will be more to come.  I hope we can continue to focus on providing an architecture that is sustainable, imaginative and a pleasure to experience.

6. Do any other Ecolint alumni work with you?
I am not aware that anyone from Ecolint has applied – not yet, anyway.

7. In what ways (if any!) did your Ecolint education help you in founding a company?
The school of course had a profound influence on me, as it provided both my primary and secondary education. I had some great maths and art teachers, and believe I was very privileged to be at Ecolint and have an ‘international’ and diverse education, which I almost certainly didn’t recognise for what it was at the time. Looking back, what I can say with certainty is that what really matters are the bridges you build, the relationships and experiences you share, and what you can give. 



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Tags:  architecture  design  london  UK 

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