Our friends in the north


1st February 2019



GSSArchitecture is celebrating its 140th anniversary as an architectural practice throughout 2019. This month, Jonathan Hunter, Partner at the practice who oversees projects in the North West and Yorkshire, takes the opportunity to reflect on his time at the practice since he joined in 2001.


I joined the practice as a full time employee, following two successful summers of work experience. Work experience remains very important to GSS today. It was this that unlocked my career and we are still committed to making sure these same opportunities are available now, for the next generation of architects and technologists.

I'm particularly excited by the wealth of young talent within the practice at present and will watch with interest over the coming years to see how the younger generations of our teams begin to flourish. Ultimately, they are the future of this practice and so long as we continue to support them and provide them with the same opportunities that I was given when starting my career, then the future looks very bright indeed.

As the partner responsible for overseeing the North East offices, I am currently involved in many projects, ranging from £250,000 extensions to £50m landmark developments. Some of our more high profile projects include the £50m new Teaching and Learning Centre for the Faculty of Medical Science at Newcastle University as well as the nationally important Innovation Centre for Ageing and Data at Newcastle Helix.

I'm immensely proud of our achievements in the north since opening our Harrogate Office 10 years ago and subsequently our Newcastle office in 2016. We have been extremely well supported by a growing team of loyal and committed individuals, many of whom have played key roles in the Harrogate office since it first opened. Combined with several recent senior appointments, we have a really strong team leading us into the future.

Aside from growth, I love the fact that our practice maintains a much wider focus beyond just designing buildings. Longevity and sustainability of the practice is crucial and this year we celebrate the 140th anniversary of the firm. Long-term continuity of the business remains a critical focus for us moving forwards and we continue to invest in our staff and their wellbeing.

I am very proud of our continued support and commitment to the communities in which we live and work. This year, we have implemented an initiative called Volunteer 140 to mark our anniversary. The initiative forms part of our annual charity sponsorship programme and we have committed to completing a total of 140 hours of volunteering over the year through a range of staff volunteering activities across all five of our regional offices. Our staff voted for Mind as our official charity partner for 2019 and we are currently planning several charity challenges for 2019, including the 140 mile Coast to Coast Cycle Ride.

For me, what differentiates us from the competition is our attention to detail and our technical capability, which underpins the delivery of great architecture. It is one thing coming up with an eye-catching design concept, but it is essential to convert that into a deliverable scheme for it to become true architecture. This is one thing we do exceptionally well at GSS and that leads to the delivery of outstanding, high-quality projects for our clients.

The devil is very often in the detail and through continued investment in training, innovation and new technology; we can keep driving forward the quality of our designs and finished buildings.

I guess in many ways, I have built my life and my career around GSS. I'm passionate about its success and the people that make up the practice. Ultimately, I wouldn't be living in Yorkshire with my wife and two children without the opportunities and security that GSS has presented to me over the years. In that way, I owe the practice a debt of gratitude.

To me, GSS is much more than just a job or place of employment. I'm proud of what the company represents and what has been achieved over its 140 years. As only the 21st partner in the long history of GSS, I hold the responsibility of passing the practice on to the next generation as a vibrant and forward-thinking organisation, committed to the same long-term values and ethos that has stood it in such good stead for so many years.

I'm excited about the current wealth of opportunity for continued, sustainable growth in the short, medium and long term. It is true that there is some uncertainty around Brexit and the future of the national economy, but uncertain times always lead to new possibilities and the opportunity to innovate. There is a lot to be learned from our 140-year history about growing and maintaining a healthy business, despite the prevailing political climate and we will continue to draw on this experience whilst looking to the future.

For more information about GSSArchitecture and to keep up to date with its latest projects and activities visit www.gssarchitecture.com