Architect Accredited with Top Scottish Accolade

by Melissa Clark

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Webster Theatre BeforeAn architect has been given the official seal of approval after gaining accreditation in conservation architecture from The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

Susan Burness, a Director at leading land and estates expert Bell Ingram, has been recognised for her passion and skills as an architect. Based in the Forfar Office she takes the lead on conservation projects, helping to add another branch of expertise to the Perth based firm.

Accreditation is awarded to individuals who demonstrate extensive knowledge and experience in conservation work and also highlight their personal competence to administer grant aided conservation schemes.

The RIAS, the professional body for all chartered architects in Scotland, saw submissions from throughout Scotland ranging from projects costing a few thousand pounds to some more than £30m.

But Susan’s submission, which contained more than half a dozen examples of outstanding conservation work, managed to stand out from the crowd helping her secure the coveted accreditation.

Susan, who has 22 years of experience as an architect, said: “It’s just fantastic to receive recognition like this after all the hard work myself and the team have put into our conservation work at Bell Ingram.

“The RIAS accreditation is recognition of outstanding architectural achievement in Scotland and gives talented architects great credibility so it’s very exciting to finally receive it.

“The economic climate for architecture in Scotland can be tough but we strive to deliver excellent results in all our conservation projects delivered in a practical and pragmatic manner

“This accreditation reinforces all the efforts I’ve made into the projects I’ve managed and the difference we are making to our traditional local built environment.

“At Bell Ingram we understand that conservation is not only about maintaining and restoring properties but ensuring their future and keeping such buildings in sustained use. This may involve conservation repair, returning the building to good order, restoration, alterations to the fabric of the building, extension or creative reuse.”Webster Theatre After

Susan believes two projects she headed in particular, the Webster Memorial Theatre and the Brechin Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), helped her gain the accreditation. The Webster Memorial Theatre project required urgent attention to bring the building to acceptable health and safety standards or would have faced immediate closure.

The main facade of the building, built in 1867, was in poor condition with the stonework badly eroding which is why Angus Council decided to address the problem.  In partnership with Angus Council,  Susan as Project Architect worked  to restore it to its former grandeur  aided by a grant under  the Townscape Heritage Initiative.

The £4m development  included works to  create an attractive and inviting entrance area and foyer, remodel the main auditorium to enhance sightlines, lighting, sounds and acoustics, enhance the Assembly Hall to provide multi functional performance and conference space; all while ensuring full disabled access and structural safety.

The Webster Theatre is now a fully operation theatre which has received a range of awards since life was injected back into it in 2008.

Secondly, the Brechin THI included 7 projects undertaken by Susan and her team with the largest costing £435,000. As part of this initiative it was her job to act as lead consultant on a range of projects  to help regenerate the town of Brechin and conserve the wide variety of building and properties that were starting to show signs of decline.

The impressive conservation work gave a boost to local confidence amongst local businesses, retailers and residents and has helped the town begin to thrive once again.

Bell Ingram, design and develop a variety of buildings from visitor attractions and churches to art galleries and museums covering projects of all sizes and scales. They promise to guide clients through the entire building development process from inception to completion.

This flexibility and understanding of the demands each building and structure needs has lead them to create a host of winning design solutions that aim to be cost effective, sustainable, durable and make a positive contribution to the built environment.

Established 112 years ago, Bell Ingram has 130 professional staff across 11 UK offices, including chartered surveyors, estate and forestry managers, architects, green energy specialists and estate agents.

Melissa Clark

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