Our history plays a huge part in who we are now. Many of the founding visions, values and principles, set in 1976, still apply today.
In his own words Geoffrey Cundall set out to create a practice that was “less hierarchical than other practices... and allowed and encouraged staff to have a greater say in its conduct... and strive for excellence.”
From the start, our founders believed the construction industry was too chaotic. They founded the practice to deliver projects better by forming a people and client centred practice with a multi-disciplinary approach to structural, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. As Cundall’s services and sector experience has grown in support of our clients’ global ambitions; we have always managed to retain the heart of who we are.
Cundall had started in Newcastle and Edinburgh and soon added the London office thanks to some key project wins, including a printworks for a major newspaper and London projects for clients in Newcastle.
Alongside the initial four disciplines sustainability (or low energy design at the time) soon became a key part of Cundall design. This was exemplified with the highly innovative Wansbeck Hospital, part of a 10 year research programme by the UK Department of Health.
As the leadership of the practice moved from the Founding Partners to the next generation of Partners, Cundall continued to grow. David Dryden became the first Managing Partner (2002) and expanded the horizons. From the original three offices Birmingham, Sydney and Manchester were soon added. Then over the following decade Melbourne, Dubai, Shanghai, Madrid, Bucharest, Hong Kong, Adelaide, Perth, Doha, Singapore, Warsaw and Belfast opened. This time also saw new disciplines being added including IT and AV, geotechnics, fire engineering, lighting design and acoustics.
All growth has been organic. Success has been founded on following our talented people. New offices have been opened by Cundall staff already in the practice, not through acquiring other businesses. As David Dryden puts it, we were, “providing people with opportunity in the business”. Growing organically has ensured a strong Cundall culture exists across the global practice, connections are extremely strong between offices, disciplines and teams and our single bottom line and One Cundall approach underlines this. As David puts it himself, “the fact that anybody in [Cundall] could ask for help from somebody anywhere else in those 19 offices and vice versa is unique to Cundall.”
“The purpose of the business is to provide an opportunity to the people that are in it. And that comes with career opportunity, pride in what you have been able to do as a Cundall person, projects that you have been able to work on and places you were able to go.”
In 2014 Tomás Neeson took over as Managing Partner and led the practice through a time of growth and development across these locations. The Dublin office was added, and the Brisbane office reopened, security consultancy and smart building consultancy were added but above all there was great growth and development across the office networks. Existing disciplines were added across offices and many offices developed to be hubs for their region, with more projects won around the world.
Through the growth and development Cundall has stuck to the founding principles and culture. In his paper, “Things That Really Matter” (now the name of our podcast), Geoffrey Cundall said of the practice:
“I did try to adopt a way in business that was in accordance with my values. I wanted the firm which I started... to be less hierarchical than other firms... to allow and encourage staff to have a greater say in its conduct... and strive for excellence.”
Interview with Cundall's first Managing Partner, David Dryden