Thursday, 10 March 2011
It's a 7.30am start; a jog along La Croisette. I am joined by a throng of other fitness delegates and locals. Legs are beginning to ache from the previous days walking up and down La Croisette to the various events... I knew I should have brought 'sensible shoes' as my mother would say (and also Norman Taylor, Capita Symonds’ MIPIM veteran... how does he know so many people here?).
A quick shower and it's off to a breakfast meeting with a Hoare Lea contact at the Carlton Hotel. I notice a text from him timed at 4.36am this morning – “am I still up for breakfast?” I am, but wonder whether he will be! I answer yes and continue to the Carlton.
Breakfast is taken at a nearby restaurant (who would want to pay the Carlton Hotel rates - I’m told it cost 23 Euros for a G+T last night!?). Coffee and a croissant are taken at a leisurely pace. A review of potential business reveals possibilities in the higher education market (and anyone reading this, hands off!)
Back at the London Pavilion, our own Mark Norris talks on Funding Development. A decent size crowd gathers, people taking notes, all attempting to unlock that edge on their opposition for that vital lead, that crucial piece of information that will enable targets to be met. Roger Madelin of Argent apparently spoke yesterday on ‘Sex and the Kings Cross Project’ ...driving the sex trade out... not encouraging it! Oh...and the only drugs you can get there now can be found at Boots!
Another dash to co-host a Capita Symonds lunch at La Plage Royale, a restaurant in a marquee on the beach. A popular spot for lunch it would seem. Aecom (inc Davis Langdon), Turner + Townsend. Our guests are set up for a heavy review of the market - Kier, Interserve, Midas and Morgan Sindall plus Jones Lang LaSalle and King Sturge. Our Willmott Dixon guest is missing...the restaurant won't let him in! A slight confusion over names and it’s all thankfully sorted.
Back to the London Pavilion for my stint at our stand. A vast crowd had gathered - obviously my popularity is growing...but no, Peter Rees is about to give his talk on the future of the City. Peter Murray is interviewing. A throng of architectural notoriety await Peter's close-to-the-edge commentary. They are not disappointed.
A simple opening question on whether there is a burden as Chief Planner in the City...Yes I am responsible for 4,000 years of urban planning and architecture in the City...only 2,000 have occurred so far though ....If you had similar powers as in France to cut mass boulevards through London what would you do...well if the French were not so good at signing surrender treatise they could have had a great City like London (always good to insult your host nation I say).....Umm, I would move the Dome of St. Pauls to Milton Keynes, actually no, they have one already and two might be viewed as a bit rude.....Peter moves on....the City is full of surprises, is there any thing that surprises you? Well my apartment overlooks south, from the City over the Thames, when I wake up every morning open the curtains, I see an enormous erection...the crowd (looked shocked)...yes it's the Shard getting higher and higher! What five architects do you most admire? Ken Shuttleworth and Terry Farrell look up.... Wren, Inigo Jones, Soane, Hawksmoor. ...oh and that great Welshman Frank Lloyd Wright (his mother was Welsh - Peter is Welsh and like to promote the Welsh) Peter has dodged the question. What do you think of Chipperfield's new Project on the South Bank...Oh you mean the 'Mini-Shard'? ....yes....well, he could have improved it by coming to talk to myself (Peter Rees) rather than just submitting it straight for planning!
I get back to what I am here for, manning our stand. I notice Rob Knight from Davis Langdon – erm, I mean Aecom. I ask him how things are going since 'the takeover' (MIPIM 2010’s worst kept secret). He highlights a vast number of positives... he’s not going to be drawn into a good story for my blog.
My stint over at the stand, I head back to my hotel, shower and change and am out to host a Capita Symonds dinner at Comme Chez Soi, a restaurant frequented at past MIPIMs. Madam Sophie greets me as soon as I enter. You know she is in charge...I am told to go to my table and sit. I go straight to my table and sit (I didn't know that my mother and old school teacher, wrapped into one person, was here!). Martin Kelly, Capita Symonds’ Head of Land Planning is here already, sitting as told by Madam Sophie. Our guests arrive - a good mix of developers, contractors, and architects.
My phone rings (it's Elizabeth from Building Design - "can we meet up to discuss your latest work?"). I take the opportunity to invite her immediately onto our table. She obliges. I am primed and ready to promote Capita Symonds and our work....a fascinating conversation ends with deciding that the UK is the best country to live in and that many of our guests enjoy cycling (I had promoted Capita Symonds cycle networking week in Mallorca in June - a must for any cyclist whatever their ability)...the evening ends with everyone primed for their next appointment / meeting... I hadn't discussed Capita Symonds' architectural projects...doh!
My phone rings. I take the call outside. On returning everyone has left! It's 12.30am and I decide to go to the Carlton Hotel...but on the way I decide to call it a night. A bit of a lightweight I know… it's been a long day.
Discussion in the morning with a major UK commercial bank – sounds as though the dam holding back all those distressed property assets is beginning to burst.
We're sharing the London Pavilion stand with LB Ealing, GVA and Bouygues and discuss opportunities and challenges in regeneration. Will the lack (ie no appetite whatsoever) of property development lending lead to more innovative financial positions being taken by local authorities to make schemes work? I am sure we can help them!
Pat Kane from Ealing commented that they are not looking to spend money on consultants (the public sector cuts are clearly beginning to bite) but rather risk sharing, commercial property partners. Sounds like Capita Symonds!
Dinner at the Carlton with investment fund and international clients in the evening – a nice way to do business...not sure what happened to Mr Pryke!