For International Women's Day this year, we sat down with our Global Creative Director, Jacqueline Beckingham for an insight into her career, those who have inspired her and where she wants to go next.
1. Jacqueline, you now lead Benoy’s Global Creative Team, what’s your advice to young women in the industry who are looking to reach the same heights?
When I was entering architecture school, I never imagined that I would achieve the position that I have today. I am really fortunate to have entered a profession which I continue to feel passionate about and love being a part of. I think that my advice to both young women and men in this field would be to really enjoy what you do on a daily basis – it’s amazing that we get to design the buildings and cities of the future.
Learn all that you can about the profession, don’t be afraid to ask a question or speak up, or to make a mistake. We all learn from them. Architecture is really an old man’s (or woman’s) profession and it takes practice. There really is no better job out there!
2. Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?
I continue to be inspired by some of my favourite architects and designers who are pushing the boundaries of the design profession. It's a diverse bunch, people like Gehry, Koolhaas and Marc Newson. But, I’ve also been inspired by those individuals that I’ve worked with professionally that have been generous with their time, and have mentored and provided me with support. Some of these architects and designers I have known since the outset of my career and they continue to be a big inspiration.
3. How do you think the industry has changed since you started out?
There have been many obvious technological changes, like the shift from drawing boards to CAD, and the ability to visualise in 3D with relative ease as we design buildings.
It’s important in this industry to stay relevant and up to date with the technological changes, which can be quite a challenge. But the fundamentals of design have not changed, and so ultimately the design process is still the same.
4. Your favourite project from your portfolio and the reason why?
My favourite project is still Westfield London. In part because it represents a great achievement by the design team from Benoy, after what was a complicated and difficult process. But, mainly because I still feel a sense of excitement when I walk into the main space and realise that our design became a reality!
5. Where to next? Where have you set your sights in terms of future projects and places you’d like to work?
I’m still getting used to my new role as Global Creative Director and am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Every project represents an opportunity, but those where we are entering new sectors or new markets are especially exciting.
RoyalMount, a scheme we are currently designing in Montreal, Canada is of particular interest for those reasons – it’s a huge opportunity to revitalise a brownfield site close to the heart of town. An exciting mix of uses which include Office, Hotels, Leisure and Retail will link directly into an existing metro station and create a very walkable destination.
I particularly like the challenge of projects which are located in established urban areas which will benefit from revitalisation. This will be the case in much of North America. Cities that were traditionally auto-orientated are now starting to embrace public transportation and the opportunity to have districts which are walkable.
It's an important transition in many of these established cities and represents an opportunity for Benoy to exercise our placemaking and urban design skills.