Autumn 2017 marked the diamond anniversary of the original founding of FPCR. Phil Rech looks back at the highlights of the practice over the last 60 years:
In 1957, Gordon Graham, then senior lecturer at Nottingham University School of Architecture, and future President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, established Architects Design Group (ADG) selecting some of his brightest students to join the practice. These included Ray Faulks and Ray Perry.
The practice rapidly became involved in large scale energy infrastructure projects including numerous power stations, (West Burton in Nottinghamshire, Pembroke in Wales and Littlebrook at Dartford on the Thames – where ironically FPCR are now part of the demolition and redevelopment team). They were responsible for the bulk of the Natural Gas Transmission network across the U.K., ranging from the massive onshore terminals through to the compressor stations (effectively jet engine installations which drive the gas along the pipelines). The scale and nature of this work led the practice to employ their first ecologist and landscape architect, since very high environmental standards were essential.
I joined in 1983, and my first jobs were Aylesbury Compressor Station and the Barrow Onshore Terminal on Morecambe Bay. Along with Ian Culley (who was responsible for bringing the practice into the world of computers and CAD, later continued by Tony Pearson) I became a partner in 1985 – and so ADG became Faulks, Perry Culley and Rech, later being abbreviated to FPCR.
Award winning diverse energy schemes encompassed coal (Harworth Colliery in Nottinghamshire) nuclear fusion research (The Joint European Torus at Culham in Oxfordshire) and onshore oil. The highly sensitive Dorset Onshore Oil project, which included Brownsea Island, proved to be very successful, and much of this was due to the comprehensive ecological baseline mapping and monitoring that was carried out by FPCR – a model for much of the work that is done today across the country on development projects.
Subsequently, the practice has expanded to provide an extensive Aboricultural service, complementing Landscape and Ecology.
Innovative award winning housing had also been an important element of the practice workload, and this led to the first large scale residential masterplanning appointment for the expansion of south west Basingstoke, where over 3000 new homes have been delivered together with schools and community facilities. The open Hampshire landscape demanded the creation of substantial green infrastructure at the outset, and major native woodland belts were utilised to subdivide neighbourhoods and to provide recreational resources. This pioneering approach has led to many commissions across the country, and FPCR have been involved now in delivering over 50 thousand new homes.
Gary Holiday, Tim Jackson and Suzanne Mansfield became partners in 2000 and have been instrumental in the on-going growth and diversification of professional services provided by FPCR.
Of all the residential projects, Garendon Park on the west side of Loughborough was perhaps the most challenging, with FPCR originally appointed back in 1989.Outline consent for the mixed use scheme was granted in 2016, and includes the restoration of the 17th century park as the centrepiece of the green infrastructure framework.
The practice is now heavily involved in masterplanning the new generation of Garden Villages and Cities, including Spitalgate Heath (Grantham), New Marston (Stratford), Harlow South, Six Hills (Melton) and Bucklesham Heath (Ipswich).
Other diverse infrastructure projects have continued to form an important component of FPCR’s workload, ranging from airports (The Diamond Hangar at Stansted), roads (the A46 from Leicestershire to Lincolnshire), bridges (The Blue Bridge at Flintham) through integrated rail freight terminals (East Midlands Gateway, West Midlands Interchange) to reclamation schemes such as Glasshoughton and “Conkers”, the focal point visitor facility for the National Forest.
This huge breadth of unparalleled long running experience means that FPCR continue to thrive, growing the management team and opening new offices as necessary around the UK to meet clients’ expanding needs. We will also add additional related professional skills when the opportunity arises so that we can offer a more inclusive service for clients. Here’s to the next 60 years……