Transforming conceptual designs into reality: collaboration is key to the role of an Executive Architect

Continually evolving legislative requirements, changes in design trends, and a growing multitude of additional project influences, such as sustainability, heritage and specific performance constraints, means that the coordination of the technical design process when delivering high quality, imaginative building installations is more complex than it has ever been. 

That’s where our role as Executive Architect comes in! 

Essentially Woods Hardwick’s team are architects who aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty, and have the technical ability to oversee the practical delivery of the project design coordination and build phase. We assist the Client and the Interior Design team, or the Contractors, in taking projects from initial concept – managing the complexities during planning stage; coordinating the various stakeholder requirements and consultant outputs in the technical design phase; assisting the Cost Consultants throughout the procurement process; and working collaboratively with the contractor when the project hits site – ultimately acting as a coordinating conduit between all of the project contributors.

Working closely with all the key project designers, we can help to create a fully deliverable design from the very beginning of a project. We passionately believe it is the responsibility of the Executive Architect to understand what elements of the design are most important for the Client, and equally our design partners, so that critical details that relate to particular functional, aesthetic or spatial requirements are protected and integrated throughout. This demands a collaborative and cooperative approach with the design team, contractors, project team and Client from conception through to completion. 

Once the concept vision or even the initial brief has been developed, we will work closely with the key designers to break down and understand all of the project information and aspirations to enable us to effectively take responsibility for the more pragmatic project information requirements and any associated scheduling and specifications. We constantly review project specific issues, creatively solving any challenges as the scheme develops by embarking on the design and delivery journey together as a team.

Typically, an Executive Architect’s scope includes:

  • Due Diligence viability assessments of the existing building to ensure that the initial Client aspirations are feasible from a compliance perspective
  • Production of LA compliant information to support Planning Applications and Listed Building Approvals
  • Full suite of technical drawings and specifications for the base build elements of the project (our most successful projects are those where we work closely with the designer from the outset – and through to completion) 
  • Obtaining permissions (landlord, freeholder, other stakeholders, etc) through detailed sign off procedures.
  • Production and management of Building Control Submissions
  • Coordination of third party consultant designs, such as structural, MEP, Acoustic, Fire, and inclusion of any salient information within the Woods Hardwick detailed design package
  • Quality Control, both of the design and the quality of workmanship and execution on site during the build process
  • On-site trouble shooting, rapid response to contractors queries and regular site interaction through to completion.

At Woods Hardwick, we constructively challenge all elements of the design to assist in making the design more efficient or to provide more appropriate solutions, without materially changing the overall concept or Client vision. 

Covering many different building typologies, from listed buildings such as Harrods, Knightsbridge, The Maine in Hanover Square to the modern installation of BXR Gym’s at 22 Bishopsgate, one of our key roles is to assist in the cultivation of an effective and collaborative relationship between Clients, designers and contractors, coordinating the expertise and specific scheme requirements of the whole project team.  When undertaken effectively this ensures the success of each project that we design and delivery journey together – here are some soundbites from some of the exceptional teams we work with.

The Designer

Throughout the design and construction process of the new 5th Floor Hair & Beauty Salon, Sparcstudio knew that they could always call upon Woods Hardwick for calm, considered guidance and technical advice. With Woods Hardwick taking responsibility for design coordination, construction/build detailing, fire strategy/integrity, statutory approvals etc Sparcstudio were able to focus on the creativity and finer details of the interior fit out.This collaborative approach undoubtedly resulted in an outstanding finished project that all involved can be very proud of!

Neil Fairplay, Director, SparcStudio


The Project Manager

Woods Hardwick has done an exceptional job as Executive Architects on Harrods Hair and Beauty Salon development. The team has a deep technical knowledge with a forward thinking approach. Throughout the project the team proved their strong ability in providing solutions to complex issues and excellent communication in advising and explaining often complicated technical details.


Magda Sidlo, Senior Project Manager, Gardiner & Theobald


The M&E Consultant

In an industry that has become highly specialised and complex, the emerging role of the executive architect has become increasingly crucial to the delivery of a successful design and a successful build. Understanding and knowledge are an important part of the role, but so is the right character to be able to communicate with all the relevant consultants, client representatives, specialists, contractors and manufacturers – who all have their own language. Woods Hardwick has always excelled in this role and those soft skills stand them apart from their peers in the industry. We have completed complex projects on fast deadlines with challenging clients with Woods Hardwick – and working with Calum and his team has always been a case of “one less thing to worry about” because of the effectiveness of what they do and the enjoyment we get from working with them.


Evan Shiels, Founding Director, WB Shiels 


To find out more about how we can support your project, contact Calum Wilson or Diane Cox.