Paul Morrell can do more than add up. This is a man with what Denis Healey dubbed "a hinterland." Apart from being the best QS of his generation, the man who was senior partner at Davis Langdon between 1998 and 2003, is also a gifted writer with an eye for good architecture, writes Peter Bill, editor of EG.



For three years Paul and I co-presented the British Council for Offices awards which are published in this special supplement. Being in the trade, I naturally thought my job would be to write the script and Paul's job would be to read it out. But no, Paul wrote the whole 9000 words each time. My job was simply to halve the length of the presentation whilst leaving in both his witticism and insights into the projects in question. It is a tribute to the respect Paul was held in by the audience that we were heard out pretty much in silence - apart from the guffaws when he told a joke.

Colleagues say "speed of thought and certainty of view" marked Paul early out at what was then called Davis Belfield and Everest. After completing a BSc in Quantity Surveying at Reading University he "cut his teeth" on Charing Cross hospital which was built between 1969 and 1973.

His abilities were quickly spotted and in 1976 at the age of 29 he became the youngest ever equity partner in the firm's history. Over the next 30 years Paul found himself in demand from many leading developers and architects and formed close working relationships with Sir Stuart Lipton and Norman Foster amongst others. This led to him giving advice on Stockley Park, the Reichstag, the Millennium Bridge and the HQ for Porsche in Theale - where the client failed to take his advice and set a budget - much to their later regret.

A list of "more stressful" projects provided by his colleagues included the Hatfield Galleria for the "dreaded" Carroll Group, the Laing Skylines project in Dockland by TV architect Maxwell Hutchinson that has since been demolished and Hamlyn House in London where Paul suggested there was a cheaper solution - and the client famously replied "she did not do cheap".

But many others have taken Paul's advice over the years and he has been extraordinarily generous in giving it for free to that "hinterland". He sits on the property committee of the Ballet Rambert; supports the Siobhan Davis Dance Company and is a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

That advice is still being given, with Paul being appointed by the Olympic Delivery Authority to a group that will be giving construction advice in the run up to the 2012 games. So, even though Paul has relinquished much of his work at Davis Langdon now he has turned 59, he will be busy for the next 5 years at least.

But the BCO feel that now is the right time to recognise the enormous contribution Paul has made.

Richard Kauntze of the BCO explains:
The development of the BCO Awards Competition's market-leading status owes much to Paul Morrell's determination and effort. Invited to lead the competition for a three year term in 2000, Paul chaired the national judges from 2001-2003. Anchoring the presentation of the trophies around a celebratory dinner, Paul led the competition through a period of stunning growth and the creation of a 'must attend' event. If this were not enough, Paul, never one to shy away from an opportunity, chaired the BCO's highly successful Annual Conference in Manchester in May 2004 and served as the BCO's fifteenth President between 2004-05.