08 Sep 2017
The Air issue›
From humble beginnings on Southport's building sites to the relocation of Christie’s auction house in New York, Jonathan Andrew MRICS explains why moving to work in the US was the best decision he ever made in his own words.
Without realising it, I started training for the construction world early. In the early 1980s growing up in Southport, I would work on building sites during summer holidays – one such job was for Alfred McAlpine converting the old Manchester Central station into the G-Mex Centre, as well as with a local housebuilder on various projects. It gave me a taste for construction. After meeting with some architects, engineers and a quantity surveyor, I decided surveying would be the best fit for me. So in 1983, I took a quantity surveying degree at what was then Nottingham Trent Polytechnic.
As part of the degree, I spent my third year working at quantity surveyor Todd & Ledson in Liverpool. After graduating, I moved to its London office, where I also became chartered in 1989. The firm was great, but I felt I needed experience on higher-profile schemes. By chance, I found an opening at Gardiner & Theobald, and went for it. After seven years working on major projects such as Barclays Bank’s then-headquarters in the City of London, I found out the firm was recruiting for its recently opened New York office. It was such an exciting opportunity – so I hopped across the pond.
Moving to the US was perhaps the best decision of my life. From an office of just five people, we took on the largest interiors project in New York at the time: a relocation for McGraw Hill Companies. Soon after, we managed the relocation of Christie’s auction house from Park Avenue to the Rockefeller Center. Winning the tender must have been fate, because I also met my future wife, who was a client. I’m now one of seven directors responsible for managing the firm, and bringing in new business.
We’re focusing on some big-name projects, such as relocating L’Oreal’s headquarters to the huge Hudson Yards development, and WPP subsidiary GroupM’s move into 700,000 ft2 (65,000 m2) at 3 World Trade Center in 2018. I’m so proud to see how the operation has grown in the US – we now have around 130 staff with offices in Los Angeles, Miami and the Bahamas, and I’m looking forward to growing the business further.
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