Move follows design and research consultancy’s decision to close after almost 50 years

11 Ducie Street

BDP’s Manchester studio

Global architecture practice BDP has said its decision to hire URBED principal David Rudlin and a handful of colleagues from the soon-to-close design and research consultancy is a “statement of intent” for its urbanism work.

Rudlin, who is a BD columnist, last week went public with URBED’s decision to cease trading and wind up the business in an orderly manner next month. He cited the procurement landscape among the main challenges affecting the consultancy, which was founded in 1976.

Rudlin, who is also an honorary professor at Manchester University and a former chair of the non-profit Academy of Urbanism, is joining BDP as urban-design director responsible for the north and other regions. He will also serve as global chair of BDP’s urban-design discipline and will be joined at the firm’s Manchester office by other members of URBED’s urban-design team.

Francis Glare, principal and head of urbanism at BDP, said Rudlin’s knowledge of city dynamics, social, economic, political and environmental drivers and urban design aesthetics would be ideally suited to the firm.

“His appointment is a real statement of intent for our urbanism profession and we are thrilled to be welcoming someone of his calibre,” Glare said.

“We look forward to developing and applying the sustainable and inclusive urban design principles that he helped to establish at URBED to the global opportunities of our expanding practice.”

Rudlin said BDP had an international reputation for designing urban environments in some of the world’s most complex cities, socially, economically and physically.

David Rudlin_index

David Rudlin

“I’m so pleased to be joining an organisation that is built with the same values that we held at URBED,” he said.

“It is a future-thinking practice that works closely with communities, developers and stakeholders to shape progressive, successful and beautiful places. I’m excited to join the team.”

Rudlin told Building Design that the decision to wind-up URBED was “tragic”. However he acknowledged that the size of BDP would offer the potential to work on projects that were always beyond the reach of the design and research consultancy that he joined in 1990.

Last week Rudlin said that although URBED had a headcount of 16 in recent months, it was not large enough for procurement channels such as the Homes England multidisciplinary framework.

He said the decision to close down the business had followed a succession of high-placings in procurement processes, but no appointments.

BDP recently opened a New York office to target US opportunities. It acquired Toronto-based Quadrangle in 2019, which now operates as BDP Quadrangle and is effectively the firm’s North America headquarters.

The firm was placed at No.26 in Building Design’s WA100 rankings of global architecture firms earlier this year, based on the number of architects it employs.