Meet Karen McGourty .......

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Would you like to introduce yourself, your name, job title?

I’m Karen McGourty ACIAT and my job title here at France and Associates is Architectural Technologist.  I hail from Emerald Isle (Ireland) but I have been living in England for over seven years.  

Let’s start off with some questions to break you in gently.

Which 3 words describe you best?

Creative, logical and perfectionist

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes I have many hobbies mainly baking, fitness and various crafts including knitting, sewing and candle making.

Would you like to take the hobby further in the future? 

A part of me would like to apply to go onto the Great British Bake Off however I don’t think it would be relaxing having Paul and Prue critiquing my baking!

If you could invite five famous or noted people (past or present) to dinner who would you choose?

Frank Lloyd Wright, Eileen Gray, Mary Berry, Guy Martin and Chris O’Dowd

Can you tell me one thing about yourself that not many people know ……

Both myself and my family like to follow and enjoy spectating closed public roads motorsports like Motorbike Road Racing like Isle of Man TT and Car Rallies like World Rally Championship.  I was a marshal at the last Rally Ireland and a round of the World Rally Championship in 2011.   

What job did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an actress however my parents gave me a reality check!

What have some of your previous jobs been?

I have previously worked within a national building consultancy alongside building surveyors with my role very similar to them.  Prior to this I worked in a college group estates department with no two days the same!  I have also worked for a small architectural practice in Northern Ireland. 

What was it that made you get in to design?

I have always been interested in design and making things and I have been on building sites since I was a baby!  My parents were in the process of constructing their house when I was born.

What were some of your projects you’ve worked on, within your role as designer? 

In my first job position after I graduated, I got to work on the refurbishment of an Martello Tower in Dublin bay, it was a very interesting structure and converting it into holiday let. 

I also really enjoyed working on refurbishment of existing campus and converting it into an innovative 14 to 16 year old academy school which specialised in vocational pathways alongside traditional GCSE’s.  We had to design innovative spaces for teaching including teaching care apartment which allow training on health care provision within an normal home environment.

What would you say a strength of yours is that you bring to the team

Having worked with building surveyors and also in an estate/ facilities department I feel I can bring extensive practical knowledge on operational side of building like compliance issues.

As a company we specialise in adaptations for people who have suffered catastrophic life injures etc, what is it that gives you the most enjoyment?

I firstly find the clients and their families inspirational and humbling how they deal with what life has given them.  It give me a greater work satisfaction to know the work we carry out contributes to providing suitable space, environment and home for our client’s needs.

Can you tell me about a job that you’re looking after at the moment?

I’m looking after a few jobs which have start and are about to start on site, one is small barn conversion to existing farm house in Durham.  Another a demolition and construction of new dwelling in Greater Manchester and refurbishment and extension of an existing dwelling in Sheffield.

Is there anything specific in the world of architecture that you want to see change?

In the current world where we are always switched on and bombarded with sensory information even in our buildings and environments especially in town and city centres, I feel there is a need to start designing calmer and more socially inclusive environments and buildings for everyone.

Thank you for taking the time for everyone to get to know you a little better!d