Terry is one of our talented senior structural engineers. He has a wealth of international experience in building structures, and a keen interest in seismic engineering, high rise structures and low damage building technologies. He explains his background, interesting projects on which he’s worked, and what clients can do to get the best from their structural engineer.
What’s your background?
“Prior to joining Structure Design, I spent three years working on the Christchurch rebuild. Before moving back to New Zealand I spent a number of years overseas including in Israel where I was seconded to a large underground train line project (The Tel Aviv Red Line), eight years in Canada working for their biggest structural engineering company on projects throughout North America and Europe, and two years in London. I obtained my Masters Degree in structural engineering from the University of Toronto. I started my career working in Wellington, which provided a great introduction to seismic engineering.”
What’s the most memorable project you’ve ever worked on?
“The most difficult was the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. It’s 100 metres tall, incredibly complex and more like a work of art than a building. The environment was tough – the temperatures got down to -40 degrees centigrade in winter, it was a challenge to work as part of a team spread across cities and the geometry was insane – absolutely nothing was straight. This project pushed engineering and collaboration boundaries. It required us to interpret the architect’s brief and vision and apply our own engineering vision to be sympathetic to theirs, hold up the building and be buildable. This was a transformational project for Winnipeg, a tourist destination of significant importance to numerous groups in Canada and worldwide including immigrants and indigenous peoples.”
“Another project that’s memorable for totally different reasons is the design of a mansion for a Russian oligarch in the UK. One day, he turned up to site just after the builders had constructed a three-storey coach house. Because he’d been so focused on the main building, he hadn’t looked at the coach house plans, hated the building and told the team to tear it down and redo it.”
What do enjoy about being a structural engineer?
“It’s a great fit for my personality and abilities. There’s a surprising amount of variety for a technical profession, which ultimately comes down to relating to people. As my career’s progressed, I’ve focused on solving bigger picture issues for clients, which has involved me questioning and challenging clients and proactively spotting opportunities for them.”
What tips would you give to clients wanting to get the best from their structural engineer?
“Involve us early. It’s good to get us involved before applying for resource consent as this is when we can have the biggest impact.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Be open and listen. I learnt very early on in my career that if a contractor has a concern it’s wise to pay attention. This has taught me to be humble and unafraid to look stupid.”