Parallel lines: OE architects’ shared career path

Parallel lines: OE architects’ shared career path

OEs Andrew Grethe and Devan Mistry, who were both at the School from 2000 to 2007, are both well on the way to qualifying as architects.

But the pair have far more than just their School and workplace in common: “Having been in the same form and Leicester House since Year 7, we took Art and Physics at A-level, went on to The University of Nottingham and London Metropolitan University together, and now even work at Farrells side by side in practice,” Devan explains.

Terry Farrell and Partners (‘Farrells’), is one of the UK’s most prestigious practices and has offices in London, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Known for its expertise in urban regeneration, its famous projects include Charing Cross railway station, the Greenwich Peninsula and Newcastle Quayside.

Both Andrew and Devan, who are pictured at the top of the Shard, the UK’s tallest building, are currently working towards their post-graduate qualification as architects at London Metropolitan. Andrew is in the first of two years’ study for his Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA Part 2), whilst Devan is in his final year on the same course.

“After completing the postgraduate course, there are still a few more hurdles to overcome, but I should be qualified within a few years’ time, and Devan about a year earlier than myself,” Andrew says.

Devan avers that his time at QE was important in nurturing the skills required for his future career: “My interest in architecture stemmed from an early interest and passion for drawing, painting and computers; since my very first Art class at School with Mr Buckeridge and Ms Nicodemus, I developed a keen eye for compositions, collages and the digital realm of design.

“During my spare time, I travelled to various art galleries across London, often by myself, to sketch sculptures, artefacts and people passing by. Soon I found myself drawing the spaces which these wondrous pieces inhabited, such as museums, external facades and three-dimensional forms of all sorts of buildings and structures around London. At one point I became so meticulously engrossed in materials and surfaces, that I would simply sit in the living room at home, watching television, and draw the grain patterns of the wooden floor or the intricacy of the inside of flowers that my mum used to replace once a fortnight.”

It was Devan’s father who first suggested he pursue a career in architecture. “He had a close friend and client who used to visit our home when I was young; his words still play in my ear: ‘The day will come soon when you make a choice between perfection and disarray, but it is architecture that finds the beauty of both as one.’”

Devan’s first contact with Farrells came when he gained a two-week placement there in the summer after completing his GCSEs. He continued working at the firm in his vacations during his three years at Nottingham.

“Once the first three years are complete, a compulsory one-year placement in practice is mandatory; no prizes for guessing where I undertook this stage of my professional education! During this year I worked on several high-profile projects, such as the redevelopment of the prestigious St Ermin’s Hotel in London and the design of a new masterplan for the Nine Elms area in Battersea.

“From May to September, I was presented with an incredible opportunity to transfer across to the sister office of Farrells in Hong Kong. Gaining international experience within architecture at this stage was an impossible opportunity to turn down and I duly accepted; it was probably the best decision I have made to date. Across the other side of the world, I had the greatest pleasure to work on major design projects such as The Springs in Shanghai, China (a key retail and residential quarter for one of the fastest growing cities in the world), West Kowloon Cultural Masterplan, Hong Kong (probably the equivalent of the Southbank Centre in London multiplied ten times over) and a new banking headquarters for Vattanac Capital in Cambodia.”

Devan, who is 24, is projected to gain the highest grade, a distinction, in his postgraduate course this summer.

For his part, Andrew has worked on three large-scale residential projects with part-retail elements: Bicester Eco Village; Skylines, Canary Wharf and Convoys Wharf, Deptford.

Devan and Andrew are keen readers of Alumni News. “We both still take a huge interest in what’s happening at the School and find the newsletter to be a fantastic way to keep up to date with who’s doing what,” says Andrew.

Devan concludes: “This is now the 13th year of knowing one another, but the most interesting thing about it is that we still see each other as the same boys who used to humorously judge each other’s artwork in School. We both agree that this working relationship and friendship is down to our education and the atmosphere created for us at Queen Elizabeth’s.

“Hopefully this relationship will continue for years to come and maybe one day we can even gain international stardom by forming our very own architectural practice.”