Scaling Heights Together

Two QE contemporaries went to the same two universities and now work in the same prestigious architectural practice.

OEs Andrew Grethe and Devan Mistry, pictured at the top of the Shard skyscraper in London, both joined the School in 2000 when they were placed in the same form and the same House (Leicester). They then moved up through the School side-by-side, both taking Art and Physics at A-level, before leaving QE in 2007 to pursue their studies together at The University of Nottingham and the London Metropolitan University.

The two then went on to take up employment at Terry Farrell and Partners (‘Farrells’), which 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.

Devan avers that his time at QE was important in nurturing the skills required for his future career and acknowledges the role played by his Art teachers in helping him to develop a keen eye for composition. During his spare time, Devan would travel to various art galleries across London to sketch sculptures, artefacts and people passing by. From that he moved on to draw the external facades and three-dimensional forms of many buildings and structures in and around London.

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

In 2012 he spent five months in Farrells’ sister office in Hong Kong where he gained international experience working 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.

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.

Both agree that their working relationship and friendship can be ascribed to their education and the atmosphere created for them at Queen Elizabeth’s. Ultimately they hope to form their own architectural practice.