Buildings and Places, Healthcare, People Spotlight, UK&I

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting an associate director from our Buildings and Places (B+P) business line in the United Kingdom and Ireland (UK&I) and providing you an insight into his inspiration and work.

As AECOM’s healthcare lead for North of England, Chris is responsible for developing business and client relationships, positioning for strategic pursuits, being a focal point for clients and design partners, developing sector plans with the UK&I leader, as well as managing project delivery.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry

My introduction into mechanical engineering came from early careers guidance, where I was introduced to the role of a building services engineer and how they can influence the built environment. This includes designing systems that provide a safe and comfortable environment, working closely with the architect to influence and optimise the building envelope and implement sustainable engineering strategies to reduce lifecycle energy consumption.

I entered the industry through an employer sponsorship programme, which allowed me to attend university while working in a full-time role. I trained as a mechanical engineer, working alongside electrical and public health colleagues within the building services team.

This introduction provided me with the ability to apply my learning on complex projects daily, which was invaluable and enabled me to use my knowledge of complicated engineering subjects.

I have always been passionate about working on complex building and infrastructure projects and introducing energy and low carbon solutions to ensure that they operate sustainably.

Throughout my career, I have actively pursued employers that share my passions and can provide me with this experience. When I saw the career opportunity at AECOM, I was keen to join the company, which would provide me with the experience and challenges I craved and help me to develop the next chapter of my career journey.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

Working within the healthcare team at AECOM has allowed me to work on many rewarding projects. We have recently been involved in delivering a new state-of-the-art Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, a visually striking specialist cancer treatment facility in Liverpool, UK.

My role in this project was leading the delivery of the building services engineering, which included developing complex design strategies, coordinating specialist services, and developing low-carbon design strategies to ensure that the building could operate as efficiently as possible.

Central to this design concept is a glazed curtain walling system that provides patient areas with a strong connection to the external environment and provides views across the city. In collaboration with the architect, a high-performance walling system was developed that maximises natural lighting and reduces glare without compromising patient comfort.

Cancer patients can be sensitive to light and temperature—patients may overheat or experience photophobia as a reaction to their treatments. Patients can also experience sensitivity to room air movement through lower body mass. To assess patient visual and thermal comfort, we undertook dynamic simulations to ensure that the specification of the façade systems was balanced against operational requirements, energy performance, and ability to provide a comfortable patient environment.

The success of this project is due to the team of dedicated AECOM professionals that worked hard to ensure the design solutions we developed fully met the client’s specific operational requirements.

The hard work and efforts of the AECOM team helped to develop excellent relationships with the client, design team and construction partners. Our collective efforts ensured that the design team provided the client with a fantastic award-winning building that transforms the way cancer services are provided to the Liverpool and Merseyside regions.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

I am fortunate to see the positive impacts our hard work and efforts can provide to a community or region—and our work in Liverpool and the surrounding Merseyside region is a prime example. Merseyside is one of the UK’s most deprived counties, which can lead to health issues within the population.

For example, cancer rates within Merseyside are seven percent higher than the national average. This includes extremely high rates of lung, trachea, and bronchus cancers, 59 percent higher than the national average, and although rare, incidence rates of liver cancer are 75 percent higher than national average.

The clients’ existing cancer facilities were located on the Wirral peninsula. The project case for change identified they were isolated from modern medical and surgical practices. The new facility would be linked to the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital development to provide greater linkage to research (bench to bedside) and to the patient’s journey (diagnosis to discharge), with services located on the same site, with the same team.

Since opening, the cancer centre has been offering pioneering clinical trials and care for more complex and seriously unwell patients, which could not have been provided without the linkage to the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Patients are now benefiting from clinical trials that are still at their very earliest stages including Phase 1 or ‘first-in-human’ trials.

In 2022, a Merseyside man became the first in the UK to receive a new cancer vaccine that was tailor-made to his own personal DNA and designed to help his immune system ward off head and neck cancer permanently. This groundbreaking treatment would not have been possible without the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

I am extremely proud to have been involved in the delivery of both the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and contributing to new social infrastructure for the area.

These state-of-the-art facilities are treating patients and undertaking state-of-the-art research that is starting to tackle these regional inequalities.

Share a piece of career advice

You will never know where your career will take you. Embrace the challenges that your career will bring.

AECOM provides great opportunities to all employees across career levels. The support, resources and training available can help employees to pursue alternative fields of interests and take on new and diverse challenges.

Originally published Feb 2, 2023

Author: Chris Taylor