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Meet the Team: Adrian King

Over the past few weeks we have been introducing members of the team here in McKevitt King Architects. I’m Adrian King and this week it’s my turn. Living and working locally in Drogheda was something I aspired to from a young age and joining the office on the North Road was life changing for me. 

My architectural training was long and varied and when I graduated with my final architectural degree from UCD in 2009 I did so in the depths of a recession. While the timing was not great, I nevertheless decided to call into McKevitt Architects to enquire about any potential vacancies there might be. Alas there were none, but all was not lost. For the next 5 years I did the daily commute to South Dublin where I worked for Joseph Doyle Architects and gained invaluable experience on a wide range of projects. In 2014, when things had changed in the economy the opportunity to try McKevitt Architects came up again, so I gave it another go, and was successful. Not only had I completely cut my daily commute, but I had joined a practice which had made an important contribution to the development of my hometown, helping to make Drogheda a great place to live and work. Joining this team was incredibly exciting and being part of this ongoing contribution over the past 5 years has been a pleasure and a privilege.

I grew up in Kings Café, Mell. The café was at the heart of Mell parish and the local community for a quarter of a century. My Mam and Dad, Michael and Anne, were known for their hard work and this work ethic was instilled in my siblings and I. The café was a family run business and as kids we all had our jobs. The ‘regulars’ were like our extended family. We grew up seeing them everyday and ate our meals with them. They were there with us for the happy times and the sad. Customer interaction, comradery and community were intrinsic parts of growing up in the café. It was a school of life where social and economic skills developed in a very natural way and the lessons learned there set me up for the road ahead.

Kings Cafe Mell

When I was young I tried various activities and sports including gaelic football, soccer, rugby, fishing and learning musical instruments. However I really enjoyed the scouts. My training in the café meant that I was a dab hand in the kitchen quarters and my skills were always in high demand especially for the regional competitions as I was capable of peeling spuds by the dozen and cooking up exotic meals such as curries with ease! What I enjoyed most about the scouts was that you got to make things. Cooking required altar fires to be constructed. Camp sites at jamborees needed fences and gates to be built and marquees and tents to be put up. It was this most basic form of building for shelter from first principles with rudimentary materials that I enjoyed most along with the stories, campfire songs and midnight hikes in the forests in Collon.

In secondary school I really became interested in architecture at the age of 13 when I took up Classical Studies taught by Mr. Gillen in the Christian Brothers. Mr. Gillen taught the Classics with enormous passion and I was fascinated by the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome. In the summer holidays of secondary school, I followed my brothers’ footsteps and worked for Paul Lappin, a local builder/developer. It was this summer experience working in construction which cemented my inclination towards architecture as a profession.

I decided to head south and study architectural technology in Waterford Institute of Technology. During the summer holidays I came back home to work in ‘Donegans’ (The Monasterboice Inn) and also went to New York and San Francisco in the summers of 2000 and 2002 with some friends. Like so many other Irish students over in the USA at the time we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We lived on a wing and a prayer and always managed to find our feet. At the end of my studies in WIT it was a great honour to receive the annual scholarship to Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) in Paris.

2 Adrian and Renzo Piano

At RPBW I worked for 6 months on the sketch design for the expansion of the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA) working with an international team of architects. I learned the value of exploring design concepts through physical model making along with an appreciation for espressos and petite madeleines first thing in the morning. When my time in Paris ended, I was able to line up a job with Renzo’s former colleague and friend Richard Rogers in Hammersmith, London. While there, the office underwent a name change from Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP) to Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners (RSHP) in recognition of the significant contribution made by partners Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour. When I was introduced to Renzo and Richard, I told them I was from the same county in Ireland as their late colleague Peter Rice. They were both instantly warm and responsive as they had worked together intensively in their early years on complex structural projects including the Pompidou Center in Paris. Renzo and Richard both remarked that he was the most creative engineer that they had ever worked with and they remembered him very fondly. Renzo thought Co. Louth was a very good part of the world!

3 Adrian Kings Drawing for RSHP Capodichino di Napoli Section

The experience I gained in London and Paris was invaluable, working on complex architectural projects such as Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the Berkeley Hotel Entrance Pavillion and the Capodichino di Napoli (Train Station for Naples Airport) along with designing Richard Roger’s 73rd birthday card on behalf of the staff at the Thames Wharf Office! While still working in RSHP, I decided to continue my architectural studies in London Metropolitan where I was taught by Patrick Lynch and Alun Jones. Their approach to architectural thinking was significantly different to what I had previously experienced. Appreciation for history and creating high quality civic architecture which was rooted in creative thinking underlined the studio’s work. I decided to return to Ireland to finish out my studies and I chose UCD because its lecturers were some of the best architects working in Ireland at the time, including Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects and  Sheila and John of O’Donnell and Tuomey. I also met a significant other person at this time and my travelling days were numbered.

I first encountered my wife Eimear when she sang at my eldest brother’s wedding in 2003. Little did I know our paths would cross again in January 2008 through mutual friends. We got married in 2012 and have 2 young children, Róisín and Pádraig. When I’m not busy with architecture I’m busy facilitating fiddle, swimming, ballet and drama lessons or helping a little boy with his endless ‘inventions’. I also enjoy running and I am a member of the Drogheda and District Athletics Club. I like to go hill-walking with friends when I can and recently, I’ve been spending more time out in the garden where there is always something new to learn. In non-Covid times Eimear and I enjoy supporting the arts locally by attending shows, concerts and other events anytime we can get a baby-sitter! These types of experiences feed into my appreciation and passion for Drogheda and its rich cultural and historical heritage.

4 Adrian and Family

I have worked in many architectural practices at national and international level some of them considered to be the best in the world. I can confidently say the dignity and respect which Turlough and James command is well and truly justified. They are accomplished architects and their ethos and approach to architecture, work and life filters through the office. James has reawakened in me a passion for business and driving a family run company, while helping me develop the skills and knowledge that were still there from my time in the café. Turlough brings humour and mindfulness to everyday practice alongside his incredible architectural and creative mind. The office is fortunate to have a great balance of experience and youthful endeavour and I thoroughly enjoy working with the team of Jim, Dyanne, Emma, Trevor, Eoin and Richie. Their hard work and dedication contribute so much to the office and make it a place I love to work in. The last 5 years for me have been immense. As a young architect I have achieved many things, but joining the North Road and in particular becoming a partner in ‘McKevitt King Architects’, have been career highlights. I am hopeful and incredibly optimistic for the future and look forward to being part of the practice in the years to come.

by McKevitt King Architects

Meet the Team: Adrian King

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