Just a Minute with George Buchanan
George Buchanan, director and lead architect at George Buchanan Architects, is the latest subject of SCN’s Just a Minute feature.
How did you get started in the industry?
I had wanted to be an architect since I was 11 years old. I always loved technical drawing at school and realised I was good at it. I left school at 17 to study architecture at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, and I’ve been on the drawing board doing what I love ever since.
What is your biggest professional achievement?
Definitely has to be building such a collaborative and hard-working team. It’s very true that ‘great things in business are not done by one person – they’re done by a team of people’. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by a team of professional, friendly and very creative people.
The most stand-out project for me personally has been our masterplan at the former Ruchill Hospital on behalf of Bellway Homes which is transforming unused derelict buildings into 300 new homes centering on the old water tower. This is a particularly challenging site which many have attempted to develop before so we’re proud to have overcome barriers to deliver high quality homes in the area.
What is the best advice you have received?
“You can’t get Champions League results with Sunday pub team preparation.”
What do you like most about your job?
The ability to drive positive change in our client’s lives, particularly through our affordable housing projects. Our designs aren’t just bricks and mortar, they’re homes that people can grow with and create life-long memories in. We receive a lot of heart-warming feedback from tenants and homeowners to share their transformational stories and thank us for creating comfortable homes that they love.
And the least?
Facing challenges with the ever-changing planning process which can often slow down the development of homes. Despite the challenges, we always persevere to ensure our designs achieve high standards while aligning with planning regulations.
What tends to be your biggest design inspiration?
I’m a big fan of the architecture in Denmark, Netherlands and Spain, which tends to be clean and crisp with a bit of quirk thrown in! I also admire the confidence and “can-do” character of design across the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Tell us something about yourself that makes you stand out in this industry?
Our love and commitment towards the residential sector. We fully appreciate the incredible difference that our projects can make to people and put all of our efforts into creating designs that will bring joy and happiness to our client’s lives. It’s extremely rewarding to see.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far? Anything you feel has changed your company for the better?
The Covid pandemic has been the biggest challenge our practice has faced, but it’s also been a key driver in our positive progression. When the pandemic hit, I grasped the opportunity to invest in leading technology that would strengthen our service for clients. We introduced hybrid working software so that we could continue to work collaboratively as a team from home and clearly communicate with clients.
We also invested in virtual reality, CGI and video technology to fully illustrate our designs and now offer these high quality visuals as standard practice. We’re based in Glasgow and are working with a client in Perthshire so even now, our approach to hybrid working has been fantastic in allowing us to work closely with them.
Hobbies and interests?
Outside of work, I enjoy family time and watching films. I’m also a big fan of football and love watching my son play for his youth football team.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Costa Blanca in Spain is a great place to unwind and relax, with a warm climate to escape the Scottish weather. If I’m not in Spain, I usually take a European city break. Cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna are brilliant for just walking the streets and enjoying the architecture. Although my wife would argue that it is the fantastic restaurants that are the major draw!
What is your favourite building?
I’m torn between two buildings. I love the Richard Roger’s futuristic Lloyds Building of London, with its amazing expression of elements like staircases and ventilation pipework on the outside. Equally, I’m a big fan of the simple, minimalist elegance of the 432 Park Avenue in New York by Rafael Vinoly. The strict repetition of the same window components for the full 96 floors.
Which newsletters/bulletins do you receive?
- Building Design
- Scottish Construction Now
How would you change Scottish Construction Now?
I really enjoy the daily emails from Scottish Construction Now and Scottish Housing News. It’s a great way to take a quick break and to catch up on what’s happening in the industry.
My only request would be to focus on positive stories – there are too many doom-mongers out there already.
Do you read a daily newspaper?
I stopped reading newspapers around 10 years ago. The negativity is dreadful.
Which social media sites do you use and which do you find the most useful?
I enjoy scrolling through architectural imagery on Instagram, whilst Facebook is great for keeping up with old friends and colleagues. LinkedIn is useful for business development and research.