Working on the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard: A Part 1’s Perspective

Part 1 architectural assistant Isabell Fogden spent her first few months working at the Dexter Moren Associates office in Camden. Here she shares her experiences of working on site at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard.

What’s a typical day for you? I get to The Shard for about 9am & head up to the 8th floor where Mike, John & I are based with the Shangri-La in-house team. My day is then normally split between visiting the hotel site and working back at the office. I check in on day to day progress with the client or contractors to survey the work and try to anticipate any potential problems before they happen. The rest of my time is spent consulting and revising construction drawings. Our job is really to ensure that the design intent is achieved which is something I’ve not had first-hand experience of before; taking drawings with you up to site, looking at what’s in front of you in 2D and then checking what’s actually built.

How different is working on site to working at the office? Working on site is very different, very exciting. You’re in the middle of all the action, constantly talking to clients and  contractors, you’re the go-to person for any enquiries – it’s a great opportunity.

How has your time at The Shard helped you develop your skills? Working at The Shard has helped me gain in confidence. I’m representing DMA in a new environment where different things are constantly being asked of me. I’ve got a much greater sense of responsibility for the job and representing the practice on site.

How has working at The Shard differed to other projects you have been involved in? When I first started at DMA I was working on feasibility studies for residential projects & large hotel projects producing drawings. My work here at The Shard is very different. I came on board at a stage when the team were translating design drawings into construction drawings. The jump from working on feasibility to construction meant I had to quickly grasp the history of the project and be able to answer questions immediately. The biggest challenge has been cross referencing between drawings with what’s actually being constructed on site and making sure everything is correct – building up that knowledge has been quite a challenge.

What’s the most challenging thing about working on this project? The Shangri-La has very complex design layouts. Every single room is different. Challenging but fun!

What’s the most exciting thing about working on a project of such a large scale? The fact that it’s such a high profile project – an exclusive hotel & prestigious building. You’re very aware that everyone is keen to deliver the project at the highest standard.

What tip would you give to any future Part 1 student? Keep asking questions. You will bore people but it is very important you stay inquisitive. The more questions you ask the more you will get out of the experience.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Be helpful at all times – everyone has the same end goal of realising the project so do whatever you can to help.

What would be your dream project for the future? Probably a residential project or hotel mixed with a school, or something that benefits the community. I’m very interested in how buildings interact with the wider urban community, I think that’s possibly a future avenue for hotel design.