Scott MacTavish – Becoming an Architect, Surely there are easier ways to make money?

Audio:

In 2005, Scott Mactavish moved away from mainstream Architecture and joined an architectural recruitment company in London, recruiting Architects at all levels for the local market. This is as fate happens we met, as when I went into recruitment leaving Architecture, Scott was one of my Directors!

Join us for a rough and ready episode late into the evening, battling technology, to have a no holds barred conversation about the Architecture profession and the underbelly of the recruitment industry.

Scott studied his Masters in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture and his BA Architecture degree at Manchester University. His professional industry experience spans education, commercial and residential sectors, gained at award winning design practices including CRTKL, Austin Smith Lord and Sheppard Robson. 

Scott has also worked as a tutor at the Bartlett during his Masters. In 2005, he moved away from mainstream Architecture and joined an architectural recruitment company in London, recruiting Architects at all levels for the local market. After living in Australia for a short while and a 2 year stint as a Director for a small agency in London, Scott moved to New York in 2015 to shake things up and set up an office. He now identifies as a true New Yorker beeping in traffic and rushing around (pre-pandemic at least) with a pumpkin spiced latte in hand during the fall (aka autumn).

Scott’s professional experience includes working for Clients such as BP, Royal Bank of Scotland and Manchester University. Scott also worked in Melbourne for a couple of years working as an architect for the Buchan Group, specifically working on the Star City Casino in Sydney.

Scott can advise on what employers look for in a potential candidate, noting the subtle transatlantic differences as well as advise on portfolio compilation and interview techniques. Over the years Scott’s Clients have included Zaha Hadid Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbor, KPF and SOM. 

Although now based in Brooklyn, Scott tries to get back to Europe as often as possible (pandemic permitting!) combining his love of travel with his work where possible. Recently however, Scott has picked back up his love of skiing; exploring the delights of up-state New York and living proof that skiing is really like riding a bike – you never forget!

You can find Scott Mactavish on Archinect here: https://archinect.com/scottmactavish

Transcription (using Otter.ai)

Transcription (Raw Text)

Stephen Drew 0:08
Hello, everyone I am Stephen drew from the architecture social. And I am here on a very, very hot evening recording the podcast, but it’s fine. I will persevere with the heat because actually, I’m here with an old friend and an old colleague and we’ve just had a fantastic hour chat before the podcast. So I’m super excited. I got the Dow ready. I can’t wait. So I am joined here by the one and only hit the fantastic Scott McTavish. Scott, how are you today?

Scott MacTavish 0:38
I’m doing good. I’m doing good. Um, I enjoyed our chat together. It was good to see your your handsome face and to the fat on what you know what you’re doing and how it’s been going and put in the world to right. So yeah, no, I feel I feel good. It’s hot here as well. I’m in New Jersey and it’s get super hot.

Stephen Drew 1:00
Well, that’s right. So even if there’s if there’s slight lag in this recording the listeners just bear with us. But this is an international international podcast. So Scott, so amazing that you’re in the States right now. We met in the UK. So we met during recruitment. But before that, I think it’s important to say that we both studied architecture. And you’ve wrote one or two fantastic articles reflecting on your whole career as well. And we can talk about those articles in a bit. But for our listeners here, she wants to tell everyone about how you got into architecture.

Scott MacTavish 1:42
Yeah, definitely. Um, so I grew up in north Wales. My dad had his own demolition company. So I’d go onto sites with him reluctantly, sometimes, and he would like be knocking churches down. He would be like exploding chimneys. And yeah, he would, you know, basically destroy everything. And I just remember thinking, You know what, I’m going to build them up. I want to I want to build up the buildings. And so maybe it was a bit of retaliation against my dad. I don’t know. I did also think about doing fashion. But then I thought, oh, no, they’ll find out I’m gay. If I do that. It’s kind of like, so your thought architecture was like a good compromise. kind of bought kind of masculine and still doing design. And then I went to Manchester uni, which I think you went to Manchester as well, didn’t you?

Stephen Drew 2:36
Yes, that’s correct. We’re both Manchester aluminide Absolutely,

Scott MacTavish 2:40
yeah. Yeah. And then I went to the Bartlett, which was, it was insane. And it was just, you know, back then it was it was because obviously, education was free. So it was like seven years of just really enjoyable, sort of almost decadent, you know, learning about design, learning about art. And yeah, it was great. And I had all these high expectations about becoming an architect. And then once I qualified in 2001, started to feel a little bit of disappointment, not straightaway, but it gradually kind of like dawned on me that I was an okay designer or wasn’t like amazing, but some people that were just incredible. But for me, it was always a little bit of a struggle. But then I got a job with Sheppard Robson and I thought were amazing. They did you know, they really like looked after you. And I was there for five years. I was I was managing a team. And then one day, I just thought I can’t do this anymore. This is not for me. And I went into recruitment. I sat down with a recruiter and I said, I want to do what you do. And then yeah, and I love that. That was amazing. Like you get to meet all these amazing architects and speak with the clients, you know, the, you know, the top, the top tier clients, and it was, it was awesome. And I guess you must have felt the same as well. Like, I don’t know how long you were an architect for?

Stephen Drew 4:13
Yeah, that’s a good question. Scott. I was actually a part two architectural assistant. And I was at the crossroads pinky toe where I was thinking, right, I’m gonna have to gear out now to do my part three, but in my heart of hearts, a bit like what you said, I was just like, wow, I loved architecture. I love people. And there’s so much good things going on. I was not the person was passionate about technical details. It just wasn’t of interest to me. And then the idea of doing part three and learning the compliance and fundamentally, this should be something that you are, you know, aspiring to do, because you passionate about it. And for me, it just didn’t feel right. I felt like I felt a bit apprehensive about it. And so, at the time, I was friends with a chap called Chris rosettes. So who is actually at BIM manager is at EPR, which bespoke based, so our company for anyone listen, so bespoke careers, and he was like your chair, he guy, why don’t you do recruitment? And I was thinking, yeah, it’s, you know, that sounds great. You know, I was like, I got to do it. And so, yeah, I went for the interviews and made that decision. And of course, some people along the way, Scott, I would talk to people, and they were like, Are you glad he insane? Are you gonna I can swear because it’s my podcast, I’ve got an explicit thing. They’re like, you fucking serious. You’re gonna throw away your part one and part two, and do sales. And I was like, Yeah, I totally want to do it. I’m totally doing it. I’m totally go in. And then I joined. And you were there, because you were setting now the New York office in the London office, I joined the absolute total I love bespoke. But why was say, a world when of energy? Right? It was total energy is there anything was going and I remember, it was like a giant. And he was like, jump straight in, get on the phones. And let’s go. So it was a complete culture shock. And I think it’s one of those things that until you do it, you don’t really know how well you’re going to do it. But luckily, I’m still here today. That’s why I went into it. Now, there’s probably a lot of years before me and you met because we’re at different points in our careers. I’ve got a lot more to learn. So I need to pick your brain some time. I should, you know, maybe I should do as part of this interview, I should secretly ask some smart questions. But tell me about how you got into recruitment. Scott, was it a similar thing?

Scott MacTavish 6:42
Um, well, it was just basically because I felt like I’d fucked up my career choice. I remember at 14, I was either going to be a doctor, or an architect. That was like, really precocious, I was quite smart. So I thought, right, I’ve got a choice. I can do pretty much anything. And I remember at 14, looking at being a lawyer, a doctor, and an architect and a lawyer sounded me boring. adopter, I didn’t really like blood. And obviously, the architect thing, time with my dad, I really loved Lego. And I remember right into the era Riba and looking at the starting salaries and and when you’re like, 15, I think it was like 13,000 pounds. And that felt like a lot of money to me back then. So there was something really nice about how Oh, my God, there’s a real focus when you’re 14, you’re like, I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to, I’m going to do these A levels. And it sounded cool as well, like, people are like, what are you going to study architecture, I’m going to be an architect. And I think maybe partly, I like the idea of being an architect. But the reality was completely different. And people have different skills. Like I said, Before, I wasn’t like a natural designer, I learned how to design well, but it didn’t just kind of flow, like a lot like it does with a lot of people, a lot of people can just get a pen and they’re in that sketching. And for me, I was always like, I was always sort of fairly anxious about getting it right. And there are so many solutions to one problem. And it was like, Well, why is my solution, the right one, so I kind of got pushed into project management, whilst I was an architect, and then you’re dealing with the the m&e, the structural engineer, you’re dealing with the client, you’re dealing with the contract that you’re dealing with you like, it’s a shit show, you’re just having to, like, manage all these people. And it was just, it just felt like almost chaotic, and too much bureaucracy like these, these huge kind of building failures that we’ve had recently. So you’ve got the Grenfell tower, and then you’ve got the Miami Condo collapse. And it just doesn’t make sense. Because if you think about fire safety in the UK, we’re not allowed plug sockets in our bathrooms, you’ve got those, I don’t know whether you still have those pull cords where you’re not allowed to switch. But at the same time, you can have flammable cladding on a building and all of the kind of the processes and the bureaucracy and the all that ship fit and it just feels like it’s bullshit. Now it’s like, well, how did that how did that happen? So I kind of got a sense that it was there are so many I don’t learn it even now I still get confused by it. They’re most you know, I get design and build where you’ve got the contractor who’s kind of in control of everything, but then the design qualities reduce then it just feels it just feels weird. And then you’ve got all the responsibility but none of the power is an architect, then, you know, frankly, for 27k a year I was like nap. This is not for me and like people, a lot of my friends went into recruitment in the 90s And then we’re making shitloads of money. And I just thought, well, I don’t want to like waste my architecture degree. Why don’t I do architectural recruitment? And, and I love that. And I still do. I still do. I mean, I’m not working at the moment, but I just think it’s, you know, I think because I had such a kind of struggle with my own career as well, to help other people who are in this similar situation was a really a really kind of like, it felt like the right thing to do. Because some people are meant to be architects, you can you can, you know, that they’re, they’re cut out for it, but it’s, it’s not for everybody feeling.

Stephen Drew 10:35
Yeah. No, you’re right. I think that’s really interesting. And look, I agree. Well, actually, when you’re saying that so accurate, Larry, we’re doing a CPD. Yeah, this firstly, on the new laws of flammable and stuff. And you’re right, you’ve really got to be into that. So I’ll tell you a quick little funny story in your lap. So I kind of have to frame of mind. So I like to be really open about the recruitment process, because behind the scenes, it’s far from straightforward. There’s a lot of things that go on. And so on one hand, you know, I’ve never was ashamed of saying I do recruitment, I really think that, like the value of the recruitment consultant is rolled down to who they are, and how they go about things. Because in recruitment, I think that unfortunately, you have people that maybe aren’t doing it the best way, then you also have people who are doing it the best way possible and are representing people’s interest, but like the other day, right, so I posed someone posted a, you know, something on LinkedIn about recruitment consultants and, and then I replied, saying, look, it’s not always that easy. You know, if you ever get a bad recruiter, call them now. But you know, the same time should value some good ones. And this guy on my postcard, right, you’ll laugh about this. He went, Steve, what are you on about Google? OK, Google recruitment. Consultants are like scumbags are so fake. And they replied to the guy, and I was like, so and so? Do you realise I did recruitment for seven years? And then he was like, ah, but you’re okay. But not everyone in recruitment is? So I do think that there is this mixed perception of the industry? Well, I’d love to know what your thoughts are having seen like myself, both sides of the coin, you’ve been the architect and you’ve, you’ve had the highs and lows of recruitment. And we know what it’s like, But in your opinion, how do you feel about it? And that story that was talking about? I’d love to know, your thoughts?

Scott MacTavish 12:40
Good question. So the My biggest, my biggest hurdle sort of thing was, was to tell my parents that after seven years of study, and working and, and sort of thinking, my dream job, and just telling them, like, you know what I’m not, I’m not going to be an architect anymore. I’m going to do recruitment. And I remember my mom freaking out, like, go and we spent all the money on your education, blah, blah, and I’m like, Look, I’m pretty set on it, I want to, I want to do something. And I remember, I can specifically see myself having a bath. And I was thinking about because I was in Manchester at the time, and I thought, if I have to do recruitment, I gonna have to move to London. And that’s fine. I bought a flat in Manchester. So it was there was a logistics to like, change career. But I just remember thinking, there is something really, like honest and raw about recruitment, because it’s like, you make a placement. You make money, there’s no subterfuge, it’s like, it’s quite, it’s actually really honest. And if you make a lot of placements, you make good money. I mean, obviously, the fees can be like that. They’re not, not everybody knows the fees, but you make, so I felt there was a real kind of honesty in it that, you know, yeah, I’m doing recruitment, and I want to make money I’ve got, you know, I’ve got to make a living. Whereas with architecture there was there was always like, a weird, I Oh, if you work late, this building’s going to get published and like, yeah, work for free. And it was like, really, I mean, okay, so what gets published? So I always thought that there was a real kind of honesty in it. And I know that a lot of recruit you know, recruiters have a really some of them have a bad name and I get it that they’re sharks a lot of them flicks some shit and hope it sticks and it works. But I also compared it to, like an estate agent like estate agents don’t have the best reputation but you know, if you’re buying a house, it’s just as important as getting into a career and you’ve got great estate agents and you’ve got some really poor ones. So I just I just appreciated like the honesty to it and there’s a lot of recruitment companies I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. But the the architects for architects job one like you know, like Originally, I was going to go to add RAM. And then I went to bespoke. And I think a lot of clients and candidates, when they speaking to an architect that’s been through it, they a, they’re relieved and be, they get it and you build up a reputation, and that’s worth its weight in gold. And, you know, like I said before you really like helping people who’ve been through that trauma yourself, it pays off. And I remember working for like, you know, Zaha Hadid when they were looking for people for the Olympics, and future systems, and Foster’s and all these, like amazing architecture firms, and I was, I was getting such a buzz from it, you know, dealing with these, these partners and people that were the ones that, you know, wanted the best people and, you know, there’s people that I placed 1015 years ago that are still in the same job. And that to me, is, you know, it’s gold. It’s been, like, amazing, and it’s, and it’s interesting, coming to New York and doing it here as well, there’s, they’re a little bit cynical at first, but then once you prove yourself and you do in a you are finding good people for good companies, and you’re matching it, I mean, everybody’s happy. So it was the best, it was the best kind of the best thing I could have ever done, you know, you know, the, the soul searching I had when I thought oh my god, I really fucked up here. I don’t want to be an architect. But I actually love being in the architecture bubble. I love being around architects, these are people that literally want to change the world for a better place. And I can’t think of another like, so I’m still in the profession. I like to think I’m at the really early stage of designing a building, you know, like pre stage one where you’re getting your team together. I mean, it’s still work, it still has its bad days. But yeah, there’s definitely this, I still get a buzz from it. Yeah, still, you know, everyone’s happy and you get cards again, flowers, and, you know, and it’s a growing industry as well. So I think we’re always gonna need recruiters.

Stephen Drew 17:01
Yeah, well, you will enjoy that my father’s description up a recruiter is a necessary evil. Okay, I don’t quite agree with how far my father says that. But I think that anyone that thinks that recruiters are going away, remember, there’s always been the talk. So Oh, LinkedIn has come in or the new job but and we were talking about kind of the job board function that I’m gonna be launching on the ethics of social, you’ll always need a recruiter. And I think it’s naive to think differently, but like yourself, I think that, that one of the analogies I think, like we just say, any job where you can influence people, and this important part of the process, I think, is like now I want to add, like the force Scott, you know, what you’ve got, you’ve got recruiters who use the good force, or they go to the dark side. And so like, where I think like the dark side is for me is that convincing, people don’t really want the job to go for the job. And I’ve seen that happen. Because if someone’s so good at persuading that happens, yeah. But what I always see happen after that, is that no matter how persuasive the person is, so Scott, then once the person goes to the job, that dissipates, and they realise I don’t want to fucking be here. Right? And all that shared that that person told me was utterly rubbish. And so while I think like, and I’d you tell me your thoughts on this, because you’ve done more years in recruitment, but my logic about it is trying to really understand what the person is looking for. And sometimes you have to challenge people on what they want. And you know, and really tasks like is it really want to go for a design practice of the you’re looking for somewhere where you want to work life balance, or whatever it is, but then once you understand what that person is looking for, then you can really help them with the process. And then it’s actually easier at the last stage because you’re what you’re doing is you’re just trying to help them on their journey. So when I started realising that then while you make less money upfront as a recruiter, because you’re not just whacking people in and you have a low dropout rate began then your the the the massive trade off, I think as well, is that what you might be making less money than the shonky recruiters you put it out there, which there unfortunately, fail, but you really do over time, people trust you and that makes the job easier. But I also think like with the internet and everything, it it’s like an architectural practice which is not treating the staff that develops a reputation and I do think that recruitment consultants which maybe our do not have people’s best agendas, slowly people find out so I think like, it doesn’t make sense to do. I mean, what is your ideology of how to Go about recruitment the right way.

Scott MacTavish 20:06
Good question. Well, it kind of comes, it comes down to like reputation, doesn’t it, whether it’s a company, or whether it’s the recruiter, or even the candidate for to an extent, like, if the like you said before, if you’re just kind of shoving people into a job and persuading them, and using all the right kind of words, your reputations not going to last very long. And then you’ve got the reputation of a company pick, you know, people talk architects hang out with other architects, good, how good architects hang out with other good architect, yeah, there’s almost like an organic energy to it. And as long as your intentions are good, and you’re trying to do the best for the client, the best the candidate, and, you know, the, you know, generally just do a good job that tends to become like your reputation. So, I’ve always had a, there’s a lot of younger people now. And I feel like they have strategies at work and another like, if I’m nice to them, and if I’m good to them, and did it over there. And to me, that looks exhausting. My strategies always been like, go to work, work hard, be nice to people, everybody, and it all kind of work out and the Money Follows. So. And I’ve always said this, I always used to say to Lindsey, I’m like, It’s not rocket science. You know, we’re just like, matching people. There’s a there’s a danger that you don’t want to overthink it. But just think as long as you’ve got your honesty with, with everybody, you’ll it’ll be fine. It should be, you know, I don’t think the LinkedIn stuff and all that, you know, these places where you’ve got to look at the design of things, and that’s a really personal thing. And I’ve had candidates where they really want to work for the best design practices. And rather than say, Well, I probably would say, you know, it’s long hours, but I’d say something like, you know, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, because it kind of is and they want all that and there’s people out there who love working for like a Heatherwick. So the grim shores and you know, but then you’ve got people that might have just had kids, and they’re like, you know, what, I just want to go somewhere that does average architecture, I can leave at 530, I get a good salary. And I’m happy. And there’s a there’s a lot of, you know, clients out there that do that as well. So I think it’s kind of, you’ve got to really understand people and I like people like you, I like meeting people, I like working out what they you know, what their passions are, what they want to do, and, but everybody’s different. And I think back in 2004, when I started, it was a slightly different. It was a different world, you know, like, the European Union was big. And there was all these different like nationalities, I guess. And that was kind of fun, because you’d get like Italian architects that were just so happy to be working in the UK. But yeah, the world’s changing and but yeah, ultimately, people, people are the same, aren’t they, they want to, they want to go to work. They want to feel like they’re contributing and architectures kind of made for that, you know, you are, like I said before, you’re literally wanting to change the world. So yeah, it’s a, it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting time we live in and now I’m in America, it’s not that different people, they get paid more here. And they’re a little bit more like hung up on titles. But other than that people are people. But I’m interested to ask you a question. When you change to recruitment, what did your parents say? What was it like? Did you have to give them a hard sell? Or were they like they were saying,

Stephen Drew 23:43
Ah, alright, I’ll tell you the truth. So I was polarised. So my mom, a mom, she is fantastic. Disclaimer, meticulous then do love yet or my mom was a exactly the reaction that your parents used to, oh my god, well, why? Why don’t you just do this before you spend like five years and she was, but she’s kind of like my mom, where my mom’s attitude was that she would never tell me what to do. So I’ve got respect and then like, but I would kind of get the like, you know, the, the, you know, like the I don’t really understand it. I don’t really so I would get that from my mom’s who’s like, it doesn’t know what you’re doing, but whatever. But my dad actually was amazing. Because my dad, right? He was a tool me. Right. And my dad hated being a tool maker. He hated hated it. Right? And so when I told him, he was okay with it, because he certainly went you know what? I was a tool maker for four years, and I fucking hated it. So he was at this machine, and my dad say like, he would change smoke. He doesn’t smoke anymore. So now that you don’t smoke anymore. By the time I thought he would, he would she he but he would change smoke because he was so bored, and he would hate doing this. And so in the end, my dad took a little bit of a job where he still works in the industry, but like guess he’s a social butterfly. And so he’s still in the car industry, but he went wrong, which was managing people project coordination and organising events. But because of that transition, might just didn’t get it. But my dad bizarrely dead, so I kind of had both. But luckily, my dad hated being a toolmaker. And I don’t know if he thought recruitment was the right fit. But I do tend to find that more, I think, Scott is that everyone thinks you’re crazy. Until you do it and you prove prove them wrong, or that you’re successful. And then they Alright, we are back. We are international. We’re dealt with technical difficulties. But we’re ready to go again. Scott outway. So can you can you hear me loud and clear,

Scott MacTavish 25:57
I can hear you. I think New Jersey is probably pretty busy. Roundabout. Now.

Stephen Drew 26:03
We’re taking all the bandwidth, your net, your neighbours are gonna hate you. So what I was saying are well, we were we were talking is that so I did a live stream today with your old pal Jason bio. So he was on the live stream. And we were talking about truth and honesty. And so I’ve often done many Clangers in my career. So I am far from perfect. I make mistakes all the time. And I thought I would share with you one of my embarrassing recruitment stories in the interest of being honest and transparent. So and I can talk about this openly because I did not make this mistake at Bespoke careers. It was my own company. So the worst mistake that I ever did in recruitment wasn’t technically me, but I owned the company. So I will take full responsibility for it. We sent the wrong person to the interview. So the guy so there was an architectural cry and scar, and they were interviewing a BIM coordinator. And there were two BIM coordinators on our system called Chris something or other. And we rang up the wrong Chris. And we sent the wrong Chris to the interview, who agreed to go to the interview. And when Chris got there, he had his interview, and the client rang me up, and they weren’t, that was the wrong Chris. And I was like, Oh, no. And they were like, Yeah, but we really like him. So we’ll let you off. Send the other Chris and then they met the other Chris and really liked him. So they ended up hiring both Chris’s but that was my first one thing I’ve sent them. Yeah, but that’s an amazing result. But come on, right there was like, We sent the wrong guy, the wrong guy to the with strange things happened. I rang him up after I was like, Really, I was like, but, but when I rang him up scars, like, when I told you about the interview, it was just out of the blue. We hadn’t spoken for two months after and he was like, I don’t know, I just thought you were in Miami. I was just like, why didn’t he tell? But did you? Have you ever? Have you ever had any funny stories? It doesn’t have to be doesn’t have to be bad or anything. You got one or two stories over the years.

Unknown Speaker 28:19
I I’m not being big headed. But in terms of recruitment, it was pretty seamless. I was I was there was never anything like Oh, seem to go well, I’m like, oh, no, I remember. I remember. I remember Lindsay telling me once when she when she started bespoke. She sent a Kpf candidate to Kpf, who already worked at Kpf. So that was oh, that was always quite funny. I don’t know whether you heard that story. If she’s listening now. No. Yeah, it was early days, but I have a story when I was at so in fact, Jason Jason Boyle might know this because we both worked at Sheppard Robson in Manchester and when the new office had just opened, and I was given the task to kind of design the office so how this is great. I was quite young and naive then I now realise that designing the office space is a poison chalice but I had this vision where all these files would be perfectly put into place like you know what a four files all kind of lined up like a nice library and basically got the dimensions wrong. So none of the a4 files would fit in vertically they all had to be stacked up horizontally. So every day there would be these messy files and like the partner laughed and I was like, Yeah, you weren’t really cut out to be an architect well you but I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted that a4 file to be like maybe five millimetres gap. But yeah, I don’t think I don’t think it’s like that anymore. But that that was that was that Shame every day, you could come in and see these messy files like why they like that? Oh, yes, God designed it. So yeah, I guess start making my own like shame. Yeah, not not cut up to be an architect. I mean, that was more like big on the concept that you know the details that could lead to someone else but yeah, that was I mean it was kind of funny, I suppose but yeah, there might be in the back of my head I’m sure I’m sure.

Stephen Drew 30:30
Yeah, you’ve you’ve blocked them out at times he’ll, I mean, I’ve got one or two. Yeah, yeah, I’ve got I’ve got one or two Scott word like, less than less these days. But I used to when I was especially younger, and it was more to do with like, making mistakes at social gatherings where occasionally I’d have a shower, and then scream out like, Oh, God, why did I do that? You know, but I get that less and less the one embarrassing one that I do have an architecture. And I do often bring it up as a little joke, because I do think sometimes jokes can disarm situations. So there’s a true story on when I was going when I was a part two. And so we had a big all nighter at EPR, which was really rare. But I happen to be on the one team, or the one project, Scott, because there’s always in every office, that one project, right? That’s got that reputation, you know, and he was like, Oh, your RAM project. Good luck. Yeah. You know, I was like, Yeah, what do you mean, it looks great. And they were like, Yeah, I was on that for nine months. And done. I’m not going back. And so anyways, I went on to that project. And at the time, I was like, I think that my director was quite frustrated with me, because I was not the ideal part to have, because it was none the resource project. And I was interested in clocking off at six o’clock, because I didn’t, I wasn’t passionate about a long term career in architecture, because I was getting more aware that I wanted to leave. So I wasn’t great. Because it was, and it was a difficult project, the budget wasn’t there. And so it was very limited resources. And you had me being like, nope, I’ve got plans gotta go. So at the time, there was a lot of friction between me and that director. I look back. And I think that, you know, hopefully with more mature eyes that are gosh, I was at the time, I felt like oh, my gosh, I’m being checked them out. And I know that’s a bit far. But I felt like, I’ve got the wrong deal. You know, I was like, Oh, my God, all the other part twos here. But I’m being working, I’ve got to basically work on this project, which is ridiculous. But really, they kind of let me go and it was fine. And where I’m going with this is there was one late night. All right. And they brought in other people from the teams to help because, you know, it was like, prices. So anyways, so I was doing this late night. And I’m not someone Scott that I couldn’t do all the long hours. Like in architecture, it would kill me, it was just like, it would kill me. I was the guy that I couldn’t do one late late night as because I was dying on the printers. Anyways, so it’s like 1112 o’clock at night, and we were doing area schedules. And I was in Excel. And then I had to like add them all up and do all this stuff. And my brain had gone. I couldn’t do it. And I kind of tried to flag that I should not be doing this because I was basically drunk from tiredness. Yeah. And yeah, in the morning, we sent the whole areas off with a model. And I asked 1 million pounds worth of square metres because I was tired. And they had to tell all the consultants that I had to reissue the drawings and everything. And I felt so embarrassed. You know, I was like, but I kind of shit does happen when you’re tired, though. So I’m like on one end now. I’m like, Oh, whatever. But the time, I felt really embarrassed. So well. Sometimes.

Scott MacTavish 34:00
You forget, you fessed up quickly, and you let everyone know. I mean, that’s all you can do. Isn’t it? Like be honest?

Stephen Drew 34:07
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that was a long winded story for for anyone out there. Sorry, I lost that million on that project. And I never will behind me anymore, Scott. But you’ve got to, you’ve got to, you’ve got to hold your hand up and and make mistakes. So let’s so we’ll probably now,

Scott MacTavish 34:28
you’re not going to grow if you don’t make mistakes. Making mistakes means you’re growing, isn’t it? That’s the that’s the main thing.

Stephen Drew 34:36
I agree. So let’s have a bit of fun with this as well. We’ll mix up the formula. So there’s one or two things that you mentioned before the podcast and monetary topics I would love to talk about but first I think it’s only fair that you get to throw a curveball at me or a question. Is there anything you’d love to ask me on air live which will go out about social Whatever I

Scott MacTavish 35:01
wrote my favourite building. What’s your favourite building? Question?

Stephen Drew 35:10
Oh my. Okay. I do I have a few. Um, okay, so on paper, which is completely hypocritical my the answer that I would usually say in like a dinner pie would be the Lloyds building because I love that kind of old school Richard Rogers Yes, I’d house No, I’ve never been there. So, so I’ve never been there. So that’s a bit hypocritical in terms of Placemaker

Unknown Speaker 35:42
Road, literally down the road.

Stephen Drew 35:45
I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it from the outside, but I think you should go into it if you saying building so I really got to sort my stuff out. I’m calling myself out. I’ve not been in there. So that’s kind of like my okay, maybe, maybe that’s like my favourite law. You know, my Aki law. You know, like the everyone has the, your favourite architect when you’re like studying and your part one, right? Or you could use your Frank Gehry probably building, but um, buildings are places that I enjoy, because I live in Lucia, which is okay, so there’s no, like, architecture that stands out there. But I absolutely places I live. So as a few. Okay, so I’m going to bend the question a bit, because I tend to enjoy thinking about places more, so I have really fond memories of levelling, because we work there. I love that. To me, that feels like proper London, you know, Hatton Garden level lane. Really, really cool. Absolutely love that. And it’s like a hidden pad down the street. So I really have like fond like like Aki texture, romantic notions about that. Absolutely love Greenwich as well. So if I get married, I always say like, I’d like to do it in the Greenwich Observatory. Cuz I think that’s cool. No, no, and like, branches. Cool. And where else I tell you the other one, the other one I got a memory of places Camden. Okay, so when I was a part one fresh Welsh paper out of the woods? Yeah, I rocked up to London. And I went, I lived in Camden. And you can imagine right? I hadn’t touched anything apart from alcohol or whatever. And I rocked up to Cam then he was like Absolutely. Amy Winehouse world do you not I mean, it was just like doing your part one late night as Redbull you know, a bit of alcohol a bit or whatever. And, you know, you now mature and all that but you know, when a uni everyone, like good thing that were like, you know, we’re doing a podcast but you know, everyone does a little better whatever in you the and the two was our got really fond memories, because Because Camden was kind of cool place. So let me flip it around to you. Favourite buildings and favourite places? Scott, you tell me what your favourites are.

Scott MacTavish 38:03
And I’ve just got this image of viewers this little, you know, this little Welsh village boy from the valleys just kind of coming to the big city and it all being like, I mean, it’s kind of a bit like that in Canada, in Manchester in the 90s. But but but in Manchester, and it was kind of Yeah, loved it, but best years of my life. But yeah, my my favourite building I think is it one the Stirling prize in 2013. And it was Astley Castle it was that it was like a ruin. But they converted it into like a hotel thing. And it was just beautiful because it had this combination of old and new and I don’t know whether you remember it but it was like a real. It wasn’t like a shiny Cromie steely sort of building. It was just this almost like a celebration of history. And that is probably one of my favourite buildings. I’m a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright since I moved to America, right? I’ve been like a bit of a groupie. I’ve gone to all the Taliesin I’ve gone to falling, which is amazing. Oh my god is absolutely amazing. Yeah. Wow. Absolutely amazing. And, and recently, I’ve been going to Mexico a lot. So from in terms of places I’m a big fan of, of Mexico because it’s like a palimpsest. It’s almost like the more layers you you kind of peel off the more is revealed and there’s so much history and there’s so much kind of to see like with the Aztecs and all the ruins and it’s it’s a really complicated nation. And I never I never really kind of thought about Mexico. I think when you’re in Europe, it’s it’s so far away and it’s a bit of a hassle to get to but now, now that I’m here on this side of the world, I’ve really enjoyed going to Mexico and I’m off to Peru in a couple of weeks as well. So yeah, I’ve I’m just Still making like places but Manchester in the 90s. But to me, it was just like, you know, there was, there was such a great music scene there was like the hacienda. There was a burgeoning gay scene and you didn’t realise it at the time. But when looking back now it was like it was like a thing. It was almost like studio 54 might have been but and you probably felt it as well when you were in Manchester, even though it’s a bit later, but in like the midnight, so I went to Manchester in 92. And I just remember being so like it like it almost feels like Well, that was when my life properly started. And I I made some amazing friends who I’m still friends. Yeah, it was just like, it was incredible. Yeah.

Stephen Drew 40:42
Yeah, I do love man. I think like,

Scott MacTavish 40:46
you feel that image just when you were there. Yeah,

Stephen Drew 40:49
yeah, yeah. Yeah, I did. Scott, I would say I’m sorry, because it was cutting out a bit there. But I totally love Manchester. And what I would say is I love and that is quite it was quite maybe it was like, super accepting people throughout, right. And I know there’s like the North versus South thing which is kind of there but it’s kind of not there. Like you know, if you’re a London they’re gonna still except to you, but being Welsh was brilliant, because everyone up north bloody loved me. You’re not I mean, like, I yeah, you Welsh? Well, yeah. Cuz you know, I’m not. I’m not Yeah, not a London ally. Yeah, not so fun. And so I was totally, totally in. And yeah, like you saying, like, everything. They’re super cool. I mean, I didn’t have a hacienda. But you’ve got Canal Street. And you know, you have Dean’s Geary street or Deansgate, or whatever it was, you know, that was when, at the end of the night when it was just cheap drinks and stuff. But it was really smart people and like I think that if I had the time had a chance to work in architecture in Manchester, I probably would have because while I like London, and now London’s my forever home, I really, really loved Manchester, it has so much to offer. And the uni was really good. And like I learned more than I did when I was at Westminster for my part one. And now there Westminster is decent journey. But my experience was just, it was just bad. But I was gonna say actually, if you touched upon going to Mexico, now when I run my business before, you know, because I ran a different business, we could shape careers, you know, a bit more of a backstory and that. So I always used to make excuses not to travel because I was always inundated with the work and it was a bit bullshit. And looking back, it was a mistake. But actually, on the last two to three years, when I led that moves away from my own business, I went travelling a lot more. And then one year, I went travelling to like five different countries. And then I went to New York was one of them. And I met you. Yeah, that was fun. Yeah. Back then. Wasn’t the pan. Yeah. And so yeah. Me. Yeah. Well, what now? Well, but it wasn’t it wasn’t so big. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic, but it was actually like three years ago now, mate. But what I was going to say, is that was it. I would love to talk a bit more about it. But yeah, yes, totally free years. It was properly 2018. Seriously, but before we talk about or I think like at the start of 2019. But anyways, before we go into it, right? What I think what I’d love to know about New York, I have you been to Berlin because I love Berlin is my favourite. Favourite. Yeah.

Scott MacTavish 43:33
Yeah, well, let’s for four or five times, yeah, I have.

Stephen Drew 43:37
Right. Okay. How bloody cool is Berlin? That’s like, I went twice in the same year. And I mean, it’s pretty full on. It can be a little messy. But it’s like proper fun. I mean, what’s your thoughts on Berlin?

Scott MacTavish 43:53
Yeah, you know, I’m not I’m not a huge fan, to be honest. Last time I was there. Yeah. I studied at Soho House, Berlin. And there was like this big. This big architecture. I think it was a world architecture festival. And I know, a lot of people, younger people who love Berlin because it’s like, really affordable. And but yeah, for me, I have never been a huge fan of Germany. Yeah. Yeah, I know. They might really good architects who do detailing, but yeah, I don’t know. I want to be careful what I say. So I’m just gonna leave it at that. I’m just not that tight.

Stephen Drew 44:38
You just say,

Scott MacTavish 44:39
friend. Like, I can talk a lot.

Stephen Drew 44:43
You’re worrying. You’re worrying. You’re you’re you’re worrying over nothing. You didn’t say anything wrong, right? I mean, nothing to say is in different places. different for different people. So what I was gonna say is when I met you in New York, right? I love New York. Yeah. probably was interesting. I go a little bit seductive by the city, but it’s super fucking expensive is a sense a bit like London where you can if you you can do anything you want there. But I as a London I was like, I’m going to go to New York and it’s going to be fine Scott. It’s going to be easy. I’m totally used to it. When I got there. It’s so high pace. It’s really up in your face city. I felt welcome. But at the same time I felt unimportant. You know what I mean? It was busy. It was smelly is dirty. But I kinda like Yeah, I mean, tell me. It’s so I mean, I, I loved it. But what? Yeah. You move there?

Scott MacTavish 45:48
Yeah. Well, again, I had low expectations with America. I was never like a big fan. So I went in. So to 2015 I moved here. And I like I said, I had low expectations. But then I started to make a life for myself and like, grow the business. And, you know, you can kind of make anywhere work. Really. You just need the right people. But it’s, it’s grown on me. And I do I do like it. But at the end of the day, it’s all right. It’s not as good as London, I think, you know, I’ve lived in I’ve lived in Melbourne, Canada I’ve lived in but I think London is the best city in the world. It’s like, it’s sophisticated. It’s cool. It’s whereas New York’s okay. It’s it’s fine. It thinks it’s like the centre of the universe. But no way. Is it the centre of the universe. And it’s actually quite provincial. I met who did I meet? I met this really, really bright guy when I first got here, who’s a Brit? And he was like, as tell me what, tell me tell me, tell me about New York. What’s it about? And he was going he said, it’s, it’s quite provincial. And it is, it’s like a big village, you know, like, I still pay my rent using a check, which I find absurd. And they they’re really even though it’s like the financial capital of the world. They’re the banking like, easy to check to pay for rent is weird, I think. And it’s the eye. And another thing, there was a really smart lady who used who designed the whole like, Virgin, upper class brand. And she was like, super smart. And she came over to lead the Virgin cruise the Virgin voyages, brand as well. And we got together and she said, Yeah, it’s like living in the 90s here, isn’t it? And it really, like reassured me that I was like, it’s just a little bit awkward. And I don’t know how many Americans listens to your podcast, and I’m really sorry, but it kind of is a little bit backward when you compare it to London and other places in Europe. And I think the older the American, the oldest smart Americans kind of know that. It’s got amazing military. There’s a lot of money here. But it’s just not that sophisticated. And Americans, you know, there’s Yeah, I better be careful. I’ve got some really great American friends now. And like, like I said, it’s grown on me. And I want to be here for a while. And I’ve kind of I’ve fallen in love with the place, but I don’t know why. It’s just like, Yeah, it’s

Stephen Drew 48:28
interesting. It’s a strange, it’s a fantastic but strange place. And it was different from me. Yeah, it was quite I mean, it’s it was challenging for me. Like whereas I was like a Londoner for I knew it all. When I got there. It was overwhelming. It was really nice to see you. And you know, scurry was really good to see the visit. You know, like, damn, yeah, of course. But like, you know, Dumbo is really cool. You got the bridges, and you’ve got the what I think is cool. It’s like you see all the stuff that is normally in the films and that sounds bizarre, but like the yes,

Scott MacTavish 49:01
yeah, yeah. It’s nothing like in the city. It’s not you know, it snows. It’s like it’s a sea of extremes. It’s either too hot. It’s too cold. People are too far or too poor. There either two. Yeah, it’s just weird. It’s interesting, but it’s kind of it’s a city of extreme. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Like sex in the space. Yeah.

Stephen Drew 49:24
Yeah. My Airbnb had like, crackheads outside. You know what I mean? And that was just like, right. That was the that was that was because like, I had a really nice Airbnb and big Brooklyn because it was cheaper. But like, if I wanted to be under in the, in the Manhattan, you know, the island bed. It was like an astronomical amount, you know, so, but I didn’t mind the crackheads because I had I had the bars on the thing, so I was totally fine. But I was just like, yeah, no, that was the that was the New York experience. So Scott, we kind of write a really nice pipe. Now we’re like, we’re like fifth The minutes. And so I think what would be cool is we mentioned one or two things. So you can what we can see here, I’ve got your bullet points here. So I think we’ve got architecture education, which you put down with a question of too long, we kind of covered that one. So we’ve done a good job. You know, yeah, we have a debate here student student debt, when I think that’s going to be a big problem, because and that’s one of the reasons why because I’m on the, on the Reba council that I will be on in September, so I’ll be representing our Scott. But I think like 9k of student fees per year is just astronomical for our Yeah. And it’s gonna, I suppose,

Scott MacTavish 50:42
is a post salary at the end of it as well. Yeah, it’s not a good thing at all.

Stephen Drew 50:48
No, I agree. So I think what we could do now, because I think this is like a good intro into probably sounds like, you’re, you know, who you are a little bit about who I am, but also like our like, you know, because we kind of Crossroads at that junction in recruitment. So I think it’s like a nice bisection into how we know each other, or our professional relationship slash friendship. But that’s, and we covered. You know, we covered a lot about architecture and failures in architecture as well. You know, so I think maybe we should return to Grenfell tower, and Miami Condo collapse. But like, what’s your rough thoughts on that, then? I like these. Yeah, I mean, like, it’s a bit like boys, did you talk about?

Scott MacTavish 51:38
Yeah, just going through, like, the whole process of qualifying as an architect and how, like, the part three is really intense, and the bureaucracy and all the checks and balances, and, you know, stuff that is, is, is great, and is necessary. And like I said before, I don’t understand why we can’t have plug sockets in bathrooms, and we only have like pull switches, yet we can have fire you know, non fire resistant cladding on a on a on a building. And then I mean, there’s not so much known about the the Miami Condo collapse, but for that to have had happen nowadays, and, and all the reports about how it was unsafe, and I just don’t get it. And I met when I was when I was, when I qualified. There was a there was a, there was a role called the planning supervisor, which I think was introduced in 1995. And this was a specific job. That was part of the the building team who would be looking at all the health and safety aspects of everything. So it’s from down to the design to the running of the building. And it seemed a little bit excessive to me at the time. And it’s like, oh, wow, that’s a lot. But then, you know, it was it was for safety reasons. And then I think from what I know, that was expanded in like, 2004, they got rid of it. And then it was absorbed into something else called the CDM regulator. But again, it was about health and safety. And then that got that got sort of pushed to one side, in our teeth. I don’t know, when when it was 2008, I’d left architecture. And then so all this health and safety responsibility was left to the principal designer, or the principal contractor, I guess to save money. But those checks and balances haven’t been working this, this is specific to the UK. But if there had been a planning supervisor, then I’ve done the Grenville tower would not have happened, hopefully, you know, I just it’s still I don’t I feel like there’s just such disbelief that what I went through in terms of training as an architect and all the all the checks and balances that didn’t work, there’s like, there’s obviously massive problems there. And I know they’ve done reports on it. And I I just don’t understand how that could happen. I don’t know so much about the US kind of codes. And I know that they’re good engineering, but and I know that they’re still kind of trying to check what happened, but everything should have been, you know, the Geological Survey, the structural engineer, the you know, it just doesn’t make sense that in a in a first world country that these things are happening. And, yeah, and there’s I mean, there’s Yeah, I’m kind of sort of speechless, like, you know, talking about it now. I just don’t know how it, how and why it could happen. You know, the UK in the US. I think that the most sort of powerful nations, it’s just because it’s bonkers, makes no sense.

Stephen Drew 54:50
Yeah. Well, I would say Scott because currently working in houses that the amount of CPD is in there. reaction the grand fell. So you’re right. I think it’s a good question on how it could happen. But I do think what’s interesting is is a massive microscope on it, you know, since and what I would say is that it’s been interesting. So already being so I’ve only been here two months, but the amount of staff that goes into talking about fire protection has been is, you know, it’s good. But all that should mean, the big question is why was now in place at the start. However, I do think that I’m probably I’m not the best podcast for us to do that on because I’ve not been in the industry for a while. So when it comes to like, recruitment and sending the wrong people to interview as I’m your man, or maybe what we’ll do is you can get a pan though, are we can we can debate that because I think it’d be a really interesting topic to go through. So I think we was one last thing before, I think we summarise and where we, you know, we can, we can talk about where people can find you. And we can always do another one after this. However, love Ireland, Scott, we got to get you new TV to the circle. Okay, we got the

Scott MacTavish 56:13
message. That’s right.

Stephen Drew 56:17
So, okay, and the Yeah, but it’s but it’s, you know, it’s the downtime, we all have real life that way. So the circle, let me tell you that. Okay, so I’ve gone. So check this out. So we’ve got the American version and the UK version. And I think you’ll appreciate both because you’ve seen both worlds. And so what it is, is so that it’s it’s a series of flats in the same building, and, and there’s like eight people at the time. And they interact with each other and, and the separate flats, and they don’t see who each other are. And they communicate through the TV screens with avatars and tax. But what they can do is they can enter the game as themselves, or they can be what’s called a catfish, which is basically like a bullshit profile. And the objection, the object is to win the game, whether you’re a fake, or you’re the real deal. And so what you have is all this like miniatures, psychological warfare, over vague virtual apps using memes using emojis and people over analysing answers and people trying to catch each other out. And it makes really interesting TV. I think it’s the best trash TV on TV. So do you what do you think? Do you fancy checking it out?

Scott MacTavish 57:40
Oh, yeah, no, definitely. I will definitely check it out. I’m kind of thinking how you have the time to watch it with how busy you are. But yeah, I’m up for what it’s recommended. I mean, a different generation I still get I still get embarrassed watching that naked attraction where you can see everyone’s bits and I’m like, when did we come? When did like this I suddenly I’m just like, I’m just like, so embarrassed. And I’m like, people love it. But I’m like, I don’t want to see like people’s bits on Channel. Is it Channel Four? Yeah, I don’t know. I guess I’m getting up. Yeah, Russian, but Oh, my God, it. Just it just really, it really sums up the zeitgeist. I’m like, yeah, get me out of here.

Stephen Drew 58:24
Yeah, it’s I think like everyone’s bits in like unflattering lights on TV is probably not like the best, you know, the best way to have it. And last thing before you go, there was actually an Uber series called The sex box where they, they they actually and this guy, I think got cancelled. And not surprised where it was two people and they would literally talk about before having sex, have sex in the box and come out and say how it was was for them, which is absolutely fucking bizarre. Who is watching that? Way? So Google?

Scott MacTavish 59:00
Mystery gone. Where’s the mystery gone? That’s what? No, there’s no like mystery to it. Like, it’s just like that. There is

Stephen Drew 59:09
there there. There is no mystery. So look, Scott, we’ve done well, this is international. We’ve had lag this this a two second lag between this whole conversation. So

Scott MacTavish 59:21
it makes me feel like I’m on a cruise ship or something that makes it feel real.

Stephen Drew 59:25
Yeah. We’re like too loud. People shout at each other across the room, but like we’ve had a real conversation is cut out during the middle. We’ll keep that in. But this is the point the show goes on. I kind of like this row talk. And so for anyone that wants to ask Scott, any questions, who wants to get in touch, and Scott has done some fantastic articles on archinect. You can google Scott McTavish and Google archinect And you can find out all the bits that we couldn’t slot in this show, but on top of that, as well. People can get in touch with you on LinkedIn, and Scott McTavish. And you are on the architecture social as well. So if any students or architects are there, they can reach out as well. So thank you so much, Scott, you’ve been an absolute gentleman. And I hope we can get you on another show. What I’m going to do now is I’m going to turn off the podcast in the SEC, stay on the show. Stay here, our and while we wind up the podcast, but if there’s any last words you want to say, feel free to do them now before we close it down.

Scott MacTavish 1:00:35
Okay, thank you. Yeah, no, I just want to thank you for letting me come on. It’s been Yeah, it’s been a blast. We always good to chat to you whether we’re like on a podcast or not. So yeah, thanks a lot.

Stephen Drew 1:00:47
My pleasure. All right, Scott. I ended the podcast now. Yay. That was fun.

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