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Women Presidents

Lorraine King

Fiona Mckay

Lorraine King was originally enticed by the promise that architecture “is where art and science meet”, but she was actively discouraged from an architectural career by her high school counsellor.  She obtained a BA in Anthropology-Zoology before she returned to her first choice and obtained a MArch from the University of Michigan in 1973/4.  She was one of only three women in an initial class of one hundred and forty to complete the programme.

Her early career in hospital and laboratory design at Smith Hinchman & Grylls in Detroit taught her inter disciplinary coordination and led her into project, then construction and subsequently corporate management.  After a few months spent working on the US Embassy in Sri Lanka for SH&G’s construction management subsidiary, the choice of an international career in construction was a given.

Having dual citizenship, Lorraine came to London in 1982 on her own initiative and found work with Heery International, one of the first US architectural/construction management companies to prosper in the UK.  Building on the wide variety of experiences at Heery - including several years as Internal Operations Director - she ventured into self-employment as an independent “trouble shooter in the construction and property industries” specialising in what she calls “projects beyond the routine”.  Since 1991, she has worked on a multiplicity of assignments across the whole architectural process from initial project programming, design management, construction documents through to installation, occupancy and even demolition.   

Although continuing to delight in the problem solving opportunities offered by architecture to a confirmed generalist, after 2001, Lorraine also focused on projects in the cladding/facade industry, finding its mix of marketing, design, fabrication, on-site and final account issues particularly challenging.   

Perhaps every architect,” she claims, “should be required to apprentice for a time to a specialist subcontractor; getting projects built on spec, on time, on budget and hassle free is that essential other side of pure design.” 

As general manager of a major specialist cladding subcontractor and later consultant to several others, she has been actively involved in over 30 major building projects worldwide.  If she has a speciality, it is in construction claims and - a particular concern - claims avoidance.

Lorraine’s varied projects in London and overseas - Al Shaqab Equestrian Academy, Qatar 2009 / Blue Fin Building, London 2005 / Eagle Place, London 2010 / King Abdul-Aziz Centre for World Culture, KSA 2015  

Lorraine is one of the longest serving UK Chapter board officers.   She was also treasurer for 13 years, having established in 1997 the financial programme and controls that are still in use today. She has been Chapter Secretary now for many years, with a personal brief to safe-guard AIA UK’s legacy.