Priya Rawal, Founder and CEO of The luxury Property Forum sits down with ADAM Director Robbie Kerr to talk about what inspired him to join the practice, what sets ADAM Architecture apart from others in the luxury property sector, some of the greatest challenges he has faced, highlights of his career so far, plus more.
The full interview can also be found on the The Luxury Property Forum website:
Robbie it is such a pleasure to catch up with you today and great to have ADAM Architecture as a member of The Luxury Property Forum! To start can you tell us a little more about ADAM Architecture?
ADAM Architecture. We are the leading practice specialising in Classical and Traditional architecture, and contextual urban design. The practice has offices in Winchester and London, recently moving into new offices in Somerset House, and is run by six directors. Each of us leads our own projects with our own design ethos, but we all work together under one banner of Classical and Traditional architecture.
We are global leaders in what we do – there are very few who can deliver Traditional and Classical architecture in the articulate way we do. Our projects range in scale from private houses and the restoration of historic buildings, to commercial and public buildings, to masterplans including village extensions and major housing developments.
Thank you Robbie and what inspired you to join ADAM Architecture?
After having had the opportunity to work for a variety of practices such as Foster & Partners, Arup and work Hong Kong, when I came across ADAM Architecture it was the ethos and culture at the firm that struck me first and foremost. After a year, having joined during my Part 1 in January 2008, I realised that the architectural approach was one that really gave me pleasure. In the past 14 years that I have been with ADAM Architecture (having returned throughout my studies), my architectural interests have grown and developed, and they continue to develop.
Well almost 15 years says it all! So what would you say sets ADAM Architecture apart from others in the luxury property sector?
We are the largest practice that specialises in Classical and Traditional architecture. A discipline that many aspire to, but few have the track record of over 70 years that we do at ADAM Architecture. There are very few practices that can deliver projects of the variety that we can, to the exacting standards because we have the size of a practice that can take the project from initial inception through to final completion, coordinating and ensuring every detail is considered.
Please can you tell us what would be a typical day in your working life?
I wake at 6am and that is where a “typical working day” stops; my days are never the same because I have such diverse projects, from a masterplan for 3,000 homes to altering a Church in Oxford, running our London office at Somerset house, and being involved in the running of the whole practice with 100 people which brings its own challenges.
I usually arrive at the office at about 7:30am. I use the quieter times at the beginning and end of the day for some drawing work. During the day I have meetings with clients and consultants, I look over the shoulder of developing schemes and projects, have team meetings and project meetings. Evenings are either spent finishing off the drawings I should have finished during the day, going out to networking events or industry events and spending some time with my family, as well as trying to find some time for exercise.
And we are delighted to have ADAM Architecture at The LPF networking events! Robbie, what are some of the greatest challenges you have faced in your business so far?
I am fortunate to work with a company that’s a group of friends, and some of my fellow directors who have 40 years’ experience have seen, done and experienced many activities which small business or practices may face more regularly. I have the wonderful ability to turn to them for advice.
Being the youngest director in the practice threw up some challenges of perception, but again, I have been fortunate with the support I have been given.
Facing the harder realities of the tough decisions of HR and managing staff is certainly a challenge, not always an enjoyable part of the business, but an essential part of it.
And finally, it can be challenging dealing with clients when things don’t go smoothly on projects. There has been quite a number of those over the years.
Well it seems you have taken those challenges in your stride and you are always learning! And what are some of the highlights you have experienced since joining your company?
Having the opportunity to become a director of ADAM Architecture was a particular highlight for me, to be able to join the table with architects such as Hugh Petter, George Saumarez Smith, Nigel Anderson, and Robert Adam who was a director at the time, who all have established reputations of delivering amazing buildings which is just incredible.
I also feel immensely proud seeing some of my first buildings complete, such as the restoration and alterations at my parent’s house, the redevelopment at Deans Mews in London and my first one-off country house being recently finished.
Must be amazing to see your visions become a reality. So who inspires you?
I have had some wonderful mentors over the years, such is Eoin Cox at Woodschool (now Real Wood Studios) in the Scottish Boarders, the late Sir Philip Dowson, and Roger Ridsdill Smith who now heads up the Engineering team at Fosters, but who was incredibly generous when I was at Arup.
Architecture-wise, Lutyens, Michelangelo, Soane, Carlo Scarpa.
Is there any advice you would have for people looking to become an industry leader in the luxury property, what would that be?
“Believe in what you do, focus on the detail, and keep your ears and eyes open.”
Excellent advice! And in an ideal world, what does the future hold for you and your business?
We hope the future holds exciting growth, as well as more opportunities internationally and in London to deliver exceptional, classical, and traditional buildings.
We are sure that the future is bright for ADAM Architecture. Thank you so much Robbie. Finally, what does “luxury” mean to you?
Aspiration, exquisite detail, perfect execution, and precision.