We are VERY excited to announce that Mary Poole has passed her final qualification to become an architect, with flying colours!

 

Mary has been working incredibly hard throughout her RIBA Part 3 Postgraduate Diploma which culminates in a nerve-wracking interview with a pair of external examiners; dreaded by architecture students everywhere! 

 

We were absolutely delighted therefore that the examiners recognised how brilliant she is, remarking that ‘she displayed a clear in-depth understanding’. Also described as a ‘safe pair of hands’, the examiners praised her passion and enthusiasm for her current role and encouraged her to:

 

‘Carry on doing what you are doing and grow within the practice – enjoy!’

With everyone in the APEC team so proud of Mary, let’s travel back in time to reflect and celebrate her journey. 

Naomi and James remember interviewing Mary in 2013, after she graduated from Newcastle University. Her genuine passion for the community and church work immediately shone through.

 

During her RIBA Part 1 placement, Mary gained lots of experience in the technical design and construction stages, becoming a huge asset to the APEC team, seeing through the completion of four projects on site:

  • An internal refurbishment at SS John and Monica School, in Moseley
  • Lanfranc House in Worcester – this conversion of a house into apartments was a collaboration with Midlands Together CIC, a social enterprise that trains ex-offenders in construction skills.
  • Anawim Enterprise Room – an extension to provide additional office space for this Women’s Centre
  • No. 22 Hestia House – another collaboration with Midlands Together CIC and ex-offenders to renovate a vacant office block into studios for care leavers

Not only had Mary fitted in so naturally to the APEC team, but she had made Birmingham her new home, settling in the city having never been here before her interview. After two years with APEC, she opted to transfer to Birmingham School of Architecture and Design to continue her post graduate studies. We knew we would really miss her and have enjoyed seeing her leaving cards from that time, including from happy clients. We found this comment from our now retired director, Ken:

“We’ll miss you, Mary and we don’t want to lose you, but we know you must go 🙂 Thanks for being with us and come back soon. Ken xxx”

Mary’s parting comments were: 

“I could not have asked for a better Part 1 placement. I have learnt so much from all your mentoring, guidance and the general office ethos and I have really appreciated all the time each of you have given me… It has been amazing to work so closely with clients and contractors.”

During her Masters in Architecture, she did incredible work and research that built on her passion for community architecture. This included creating beautiful models for a community paper-making and print-making factory in Handsworth. Her project was in response to the external and internal perception of Handsworth; the difference between the media portrayal and the residents’ lived experiences.

Mary created striking models and drawings for her final design project too:

 

“Gibraltar is a Fortress, refuge for diasporic communities, & Port welcoming exchange of trade & culture. Due to Brexit, Gibraltar itself will become a diasporic place, exiled from its home in Europe. The project form & scale is reminiscent of a political monument, but the building contains ancestral & cultural echoes of the  people who inhabit it. The Pillar of Exchange, House of Refuge & House of  Exile provide space to create crafts & share cultural practices, temporary accommodation for diaspora in search of a new home post-Brexit, & explores the idea of absence of home, inhabited by relics created & left behind by the diaspora.”

 

Mary also carried out research on architects’ ethical responsibility to society for her dissertation, ‘Creating Citizen Architects – Do architects have an ethical responsibility to society?’, which the APEC team still uses as a reference in the studio!

We were over the moon when Mary approached us about returning to APEC in 2017 as an RIBA Part 2 Assistant, and in these recent years, Mary has been able to hone her skills in engagement, brief writing and design on a wide range of different projects across the church, community, cultural, housing and education sectors. 

 

Mary became our APEC expert in 3D and BIM Modelling, testing our then new software for B12 Urban Village Hall. The scheme became Mary’s Part 3 case study, as she led the technical design and construction stages, and she did a brilliant job!

 

“Can I take this opportunity to say how pleased I have been with the relationships during the contract and preceding. APEC and Jericho have been superb, and Mary is an absolute gem and thorough professional… Many, many thanks for your conscientious and sympathetic help over the last two years.”

George Gallagher, Client

Of greatest significance in recent years is Mary’s involvement in the design of the new church for St Joseph the Worker parish in Bidford- on Avon. She’s been with the project from the beginning: from standing outside a supermarket talking to locals to inform the brief, to developing the detailed proposals for this new landmark church and creating a fantastic animated walkthrough. The project is now in for planning, and we’ve had great feedback from the client, parishioners and locals:

The more times I read the Design and Access Statement the more I am impressed, by the way, you have gone about the process, and by the appropriateness and beauty of the designs.

Father Garry, Client

The design of the church is stunning and I am sure it will bring in more people. I love the simplicity and airy feel of the main collective worship area.

Parishioner

I think the design is beautiful. The worship space appears peaceful and inclusive… The design of the building is welcoming for all and I look forward to sharing it with the wider community.

Parishioner

It looks beautiful and will be a great asset not just to the catholic church but the village. I really hope it goes ahead.

Local resident

A really lovely building that will be a great asset to the church and the village.

Local resident

Throughout her time at APEC, Mary has demonstrated an incredible sensitivity to those that she is designing for and with. She is gifted at adeptly reimagining the reconfiguration of spaces to meet our clients’ needs, and communicates effectively to the wide range of people we interact with daily. Mary is so dedicated to her clients and to good design, and is an absolute joy to work with. We cannot wait to see how she shapes the future of the practice as an architect!