Buildings and Places, People Spotlight, United Kingdom

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a designer from our Buildings+Places (B+P) business line in Europe and providing you insight into his design inspiration and work.

Akhtar Hussain is a director on the building engineering team based out of the London office. He started as a graduate electrical engineer with AECOM legacy company, Oscar Faber and is now responsible for leading our Government sector work and major projects in the business line across Europe.

What inspired you to join the industry? When I started my BSc (Hons) degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, I wanted to be a Power Engineer. But this ‘sandwich’ degree incorporated a requirement for two six-month periods of industrial training – fortunately, the second period of this training was in the Architects Department at the London Borough of Lewisham. I trained with their MEP (Mechanical Electrical and Public Health) team working on Building Services (BS) projects. I thought being a BS engineer in the construction industry seemed far more interesting – especially as the work was so diverse, involved design, meeting different people, learning about different design disciplines, working with clients/architects/quantity surveyors/contractors, visiting sites, etc.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why? Some of my most memorable projects from working for 35 years include a new hospital near Birmingham, three Command Control & Communications (C3i) buildings and other key projects for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), The Jewel House expansion at the Tower of London, headquarters for KPMG, Barclays Capital, Legal & General, Standard Chartered Bank and Red Bull. I’m also currently leading the engineering teams on a landmark project for the City of London Corporation, the Parliamentary Northern Estate for the House of Commons, an office building for Aviva and a very large residential development south of Canary Wharf composed of multiple high rise and low rise buildings.

If I had to choose one it would probably be the Parliament, Northern Estate. The Northern Estate is a group of 18th, 19th and 20th Century buildings, located adjacent to the Palace of Westminster, which are Grade I, II* and II Listed and of considerable heritage value. They were already in use by MPs and their staff, however, they required significant refurbishment to bring them up to modern environmental and accessibility standards, improve their security, and create more suitable spaces for modern office use. We were brought on as the engineering (MEP and C&S) designers and to provide specialist Fire, ITC and acoustics consultancy services. Interestingly, our Building Engineering founder, Dr Oscar Faber, was himself involved in the restoration of parts of the Palace of Westminster following bomb damage during the 2nd World War.

This project is probably my favorite because we closely tracked and positioned for the opportunity for a long time, the post bid interview was like Alan Sugar’s assistants grilling the candidates on the penultimate episodes of the BBC reality series, ‘The Apprentice’. It’s still ongoing, and will hopefully be for several more years. We have a very long history of working with this client and it is a once in a lifetime type of opportunity.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community. The Parliament, Northern Estate project is helping to create a better, modern, more secure and sustainable parliament that will positively affect all MP’s as they serve the people of the UK. It will also reduce the estates impact on climate change.

What career advice would you like to give? Always be willing to take on increased responsibility when given the chance.

Originally published Jul 7, 2021

Author: Akhtar Hussain