Simon Hosts the University of Portland
Simon has recently hosted a visit from Portland State University. Here we are sharing the story that was published by the University to detail his visit. Simon is also the Chair of The Hertfordshire Association of Architects and through this role works closely with the University of Hertfordshire.
Local architectural RIBA practice Simon Knight Architects hosted students from Portland State University last month as part of a continuing affiliation for the last 5 years. Simon’s wife is American and her brother-in-law lives in Portland, Oregon. Through this connection Simon was introduced to Associate Professor Matthew Gabhardt, who also lives in Portland.
Matthew’s program brings students from Portland State University studying urban planning and real estate development to England to talk to local experts and tour innovative projects. The concept behind the course is to challenge what students know, or think they know, about how planning and development function, or should function. Associate Professor Matthew Gebhardt says: “My hope is to change their perspective on what is possible and for them to come back with new ideas that they can use in future classes and professional practice.”
Many of the tours during their visit to the UK are of large regeneration projects. While certainly interesting, these do not give the students a sense of the vast majority of design and development projects. The smaller projects that Simon Knight Architects are involved in are more like the projects they are likely to work with and give a much better and more granular understanding of how the design, planning, and construction process functions in England.
Matthew says: “Simon does a fantastic job of walking students through the relationships that the students will encounter in practice, such as developer and architect and architect and planner. He also takes us to works in progress, which allows discussion of why certain design decisions were made, which is really helpful for the students. He is extremely generous with his time, getting to know the students and engaging them in a dialogue about projects.”
“Simon’s projects are also excellent examples of a key course theme: adaptive reuse. With growing concerns over the climate impacts of demolition and new construction, there is enormous and growing interest in how we can creatively reuse existing buildings in ways that meet current needs and improve their efficiency and resilience. One of the reasons we love visiting Simon is the projects he shares are not only great examples of adaptive reuse, but also involve heritage preservation and
community context, which demand creative and compelling designs.”
Simon has enjoyed hosting Matthew and his cohort every year and exchanging different perspectives, whether they be cultural or legislative. This year the group walked down the historic Fishpool Street, where SKA have recently submitted a planning application for an exciting new-build house and then onto the Rose & Crown pub in St Michael’s, which the architects have applied for permission to renovate and extend. The tour inevitably ends at one of St Albans beautiful pubs where discussions continue whilst enjoying a drink. Simon says: “It seemed particularly special this year, given a two-year hiatus due to covid, and it was so great to continue this unique connection.”