23 April 2014 — Global engineering, planning and design heavyweight Arup has appointed Australian Gregory Hodkinson as the firm’s new London-based chairman. He brings to the role over 40 years’ experience working on major projects in Australia, the UK, the USA and mainland Europe, and an unwavering commitment to sustainability.
In a statement issued announcing his appointment, Mr Hodkinson said, “Arup’s strategy is quite simply to deliver the best quality work for our clients across all sectors. I believe that we have the right people with the right skills to add even more value in vitally important areas such as resilient city development, transport, water and low-carbon energy, so that’s where we aim to refine our focus.”
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, he stated, “there is no doubt in my mind that climate change is upon us and is it is induced by greenhouse gases that we are putting into the atmosphere.”
Projects he has worked on include Sony Centre in Berlin; Darling Harbour Development in Sydney; Terminals 2,3,4,5 and 7 at JFK Airport and the Fulton Street Transit Centre and Second Avenue Subway projects in New York.
Currently the firm is involved in two major Australian public transport infrastructure projects, the Canberra Light Rail and the Gold Coast Light Rail.
He told the AFR that rail was the best way of transporting people within cities, with one road lane able to move 2000 people every hour, while rail could move the same number of people in ten minutes.
“A city can’t operate by motorcar beyond a certain size,” he told the AFR, adding a rail link would be essential for Sydney’s proposed second airport at Badgerys Creek.
“Cities are in a global competitive environment, if you want to attract business and talent, you want a liveable city, and a liveable city is one where people can get around and be mobile.”
Arup is also engaged in projects that push the envelope in terms of low-carbon energy, such as the bioreactor facade of BIQ House in Germany, which features “SolarLeaf” technology. This passive energy system, comprising glazed bioreactor panels filled with microalgae, generates biomass and heat as renewable energy resources, while also providing shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement. BIQ opened in April 2013.
Mr Hodkinson has also stated the firm will be expanding their focus on sustainable urban planning. Last month the firm launched a report, Cities Alive, that envisages cities of the future as integrated networks of intelligent green spaces, designed to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens.
Undertaken by Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation and Landscape Architecture teams, the report addresses global issues such as climate change, urban population growth, resource scarcity and risk of urban flooding, and proposes economically viable solutions in the form of innovative technologies, design and planning measures that can create a linked “city ecosystem”.
Current Australian planning projects include the masterplanning for the new Gold Coast Cultural precinct, and extensive planning work for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The firm opened a permanent Gold Coast office on 9 Apirl this year on the strength of their numerous projects in the region, which also include the Murwillumbah to Casino rail line in far Northern New South Wales.
Arup currently has 11,500 staff members worldwide and turnover in excess of US$1.7 billion a year.