Sophie Connor, senior architect in Team Graham in Newcastle, talks about the experiences she enjoyed on her six month secondment to Team James in Vancouver.
When Ryder announced in 2017 that they were opening an office in Vancouver, the first thing I did was ask my mum if she would be willing to look after my dog should a secondment opportunity ever arise. Rated as one of the most liveable cities in the world, the opportunity to travel there with work was too good to pass up on. When the secondment opportunity did arise however, it was a slightly different conversation with my partner about looking after the dog… Fortunately for me, the timing of the secondment worked out well as I was coming to the end of my current project (and my partner is very understanding!)
Practice life in Vancouver was very much the same and yet quite different. Some things were minor differences, like paper sizes or the language variances between English and Canadian English, which utilises a mixture of English and American rules – ‘ise’ is ‘ize’ and aluminium is aluminum but color is still colour. Metric and imperial units are used almost interchangeably, although generally, projects working with existing buildings would be in imperial units due to existing information, and new projects would be in metric, however discussions during meetings regularly slipped into feet over metres leaving me trying to keep up with conversions! Coming from the Newcastle office of around 100 people, to an office of eight made for quite a change.