Leading the way on BIM-related practice and research
RISING STARS 2016 COHORT
Partner, Cullinan Studio
Part 2 completed 2008
A number of practices entered more than one member of their teams to RIBAJ Rising Stars, but only Cullinan Studio has two in the winning cohort. Brendan Sexton represents a distinct strand of young architects who have been experimenting, testing, training colleagues and gearing their practices up for BIM over the last few years, and he has been given the opportunity to take it further with extra research.
From working on the BFI Master Film Store, in just six years Sexton established himself as a ‘lead partner’ on technical and BIM-related practice and research, says his nominee, senior practice partner Robin Nicholson. Beyond BIM this means ‘helping rethink the way a reluctant construction industry delivers high quality buildings’. In his work Sexton has brought together disparate parts of construction, from the Teambuild finals in 2010 to negotiating the ‘seamless’ integration of BIM with the contractor’s team on the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) for Jaguar Land Rover, and on projects for Tata Motors and WMG at the University of Warwick. The latter, an £80m project, is Cullinan’s first level 2 integrated BIM model, built by Sexton and his team, working with Arup, Balfour Beatty and its supply chain.
Sexton’s referee is Gavin Edwards, the university’s programme manager for WMG. ‘He has cemented that rare skill of absorbing detailed technical requirements while delivering elegant solutions that work at the strategic level,’ Edwards says. ‘Brendan’s leadership on BIM/visualisation has transformed the way we work. His early visualisations made designs immeasurably more understandable and facilitated better decision making.’ The NAIC project has seen tests of BIMspace, a technology Sexton developed with the help of an Innovate-UK research grant. It is a multi-screen environment for sharing and commenting on BIM information. Balfour Beatty has made it available on its supervisors’ tablets at NAIC – remarkable for a fledgling technology – and allowed suppliers and subcontractors to engage directly with it. BIMspace is now being developed as a business proposition.
What would you most like to improve about the industry?
Communication processes we developed using the latest technology have allowed clients, contractors and designers to effectively interrogate the model and become far more engaged in the process. Contractors now understand the building in greater detail much earlier, resulting in far fewer mistakes. Cost savings and fun have been injected into projects.
Who would you most like to work with?
Elon Musk would be an interesting character to work alongside. He has a striking ability to take niche creativity and talent in people and use it to transform industries. His success in creating PayPal has made him an unstoppable maverick, resulting in shock waves across each sector he turns his attention to – be it designing the world’s fastest train (Hyperloop), reducing the cost of space travel through SpaceX, or redefining the future direction of automotive design with Tesla. The construction sector needs people like Musk, who have vision and bravery to embrace new ways of doing things and blow the dust off our industry.