Vernon Street Studio, Preston

November 7, 2011 Filed under: 1960s, Offices by Sanna Fisher-Payne 4 comments

Placed 32nd in the Placebook vote of favourite buildings by BDP
In 1968, BDP moved into a Bürolandschaft-inspired office in Vernon Street, Preston, supported by a £20,000 loan from staff. Geoff Gradwell, who worked there as a graphic designer, says it was the foundation of an enduring ethos

BDP Preston office, Vernon Street is my favourite BDP place: home of ‘the BDP family’, a great place to work, the origin of so much integrated interdisciplinary output, and the cradle of today’s BDP offices.

Vernon Street, BDP Preston office – apart from the physical use of an old mill and one time bowling alley into a ground-breaking ’Burolandschaft’ utilising the strategic use of partitions and plants – people became the focus of the office environment with the integration of design expertise across the office realising the multi-discipline approach favoured by GG and the partners and a more egalitarian management approach that increased communication and collaboration between people and professions; resulting in systems office furniture design still seen in BDP offices today… and an interdisciplinary ethos that survives in the present.

GG, on 30 April 1974 upon retirement,  ”‘Don’t you feel proud?’ people say to me when talking about the firm. Of course you all know I do feel proud about the firm: about you – each one who goes to make the firm and who, because of your interest in BDP as well as the essential interest in yourself, make it more than any arithmetical counting of heads. Being proud of BDP takes on a special meaning because almost at all times all kinds of people have felt free to contribute and, feeling free, have contributed responsibly. We can all be proud of what we’ve helped to build and what, together, we will keep going.”

In 1981, GG wrote in ‘The Essence of BDP’ –”We gave the term multi-disciplinary to the world. Great wonder was caused at the institutions…. fellow architects questioned whether it could work, and even if it could last” … the last word rests with BDP.

Geoff Gradwell was an associate at BDP Preston, representing and leading the graphic design profession in BDP North, 1984-1994. Geoff worked on more than 18 BDP retail developments, including winning developer competitions, branding and marketing shopping centres through to wayfinding and signing the schemes. Geoff now works as a design and communication consultant based in Preston
www.gradwellcorporatedesign.co.uk