The Architect’s Engineer

Memoir of a Life in Building Engineering and Restorative Development

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About the Book

Sir Nigel Thompson walked to school around the bomb craters of the London Blitz—it made him want to build things, rather than knock them down. After studying structural engineering in Africa, he worked on hospitals and theaters in London, and later headed the team that designed University of Qatar. He went on to design Embankment Place, a massive office complex built over London’s Charing Cross railway station. Turning from building to rebuilding, he explored construction opportunities for British firms during the Gulf War, in Kuwait’s still-burning oil fields. Following the 1999 bombing of Serbia and Kosovo, he led a reconstruction task force in Kosovo at the request of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, for which he was knighted. Thompson’s memoir details his long career in architectural design and construction, and in restorative development.

About the Author(s)

Sir Nigel Thompson, the main board director of the British multinational firm Arup, is one of the United Kingdom’s leading structural and civil engineers with experience working throughout the world. During his 50 years with Arup, he has completed many award-winning projects. He lives in Wiltshire, England.

Bibliographic Details

Sir Nigel Thompson

Foreword by Sir Terry Farrell
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 263
Bibliographic Info: 93 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8589-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4524-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Terry Farrell 1
Preface 3

Part I—An Aspiring Building Engineer  5
1. London During the War (1939–1945) 7
2. Willington School and St. Paul’s School (1945–1955) 10
3. Starting Work and Rhodesia (1955–1960) 17
4. Return to England—Scholarship and Joining Arup (1960) 26
5. Friends and London in the Early 1960s 32
6. Meeting Nicky (1963) 34
7. Summer in Turkey (1964) 36
8. Senior Engineer and Marrying Nicky (1965) 38
9. The Mill and Nim’s Arrival (1966) 43
10. Thompson’s Eating House (1970–1972) 46
11. Grove Farm and Sam’s Arrival (1972) 49
12. Iran and Phoebe’s Arrival (1974–1976) 53
13. Doha and Kafrawi’s Tower of Winds (1976–1978) 60
14. Life in Wiltshire and Africa Again (1977) 66
15. Commercial Buildings in the 1980s 72
16. Theaters and The Old Vic (1982) 75

Part II—A Leader in Building Engineering and Business Development  79
17. Joining the Arup Main Board (1984) 81
18. British Overseas Trade Board and the Vineyard (1983–1984) 85
19. Hospitals in the 1980s: St. Mary’s, London, UK; Onassis Hospital, Athens, Greece; Yangon Hospital, Burma (Myanmar) 88
20. Shopping Centers and Retail Developments in the 1980s 93
21. Lutyens House (1986–1987) 97
22. Nicky’s Singing 102
23. Air Rights Buildings (1985) and Working with Terry Farrell 105
24. The End of the Vineyard and Arab Horse Racing (1988) 116
25. Fiftieth Birthday and ­Twenty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary (1989) 119
26. Kuwait City (1991) 124
27. Nicky’s Accident 129
28. Business Development (1992) 132
29. Zimbabwe (1997) 141
30. Financial Services Sector (1990s) 145

Part III—A Leader in Restorative Development  149
31. Power in Kosovo 151
32. Serbia and Montenegro (2000) 166
33. Stability Pact for ­South-Eastern Europe (2001) 173
34. The Island of St. Helena (2002) 178
35. Campaign to Protect Rural England (2003) 188
36. The Marlborough Brandt Group and BUILD (2004) 194
37. Action for the River Kennet (ARK) 201
38. Governor of St. Paul’s School (2007–2011) and President of Old Boys (2015–2017) 204
39. Minal Parish Council (2000–2018) 210
40. The Trevor Estate (1976–2011) 212
41. Grove House and Estate 214

Appendix I: Nigel Thompson Selected Titles and Awards 225
Appendix II: Terms and Abbreviations 226
Chapter Notes 229
Bibliography 249
Index 251