A Day in the life: Nik Clarke, Director, Morrison Design Architects in Derby

Here at Morrison Design we are starting a new feature in which we interview a member of the team to highlight their skillsets and how their knowledge and experience benefits our clients. We also ask their opinion on their current favourite buildings and the cities they admire for architectural design.

Starting us off is Nik Clarke. Earlier this year, Nik together with fellow Directors Pete Newman Earp and Dave Gardner completed a management buy-out, so his interview reflects a new era in the 70 year history of Morrison Design.

Describe a typical day 

There is no need for an alarm in our house, as our 3 year old son provides the early wake-up call around 5.30am.

It’s a great opportunity to read him a book or play bumper cars in the hallway before sharing marmalade on toast for breakfast, and a coffee for me.

Then it’s time to leave for work, which will either be a train to London for meetings with our various hotel clients, or a drive to the office where I’ll spend the day catching up with the team working on my projects, carrying out drawing reviews and discussing progress with clients.

I’m in the process of finishing off a hotel project in Bloomsbury Square, London, which involves creating 62 guest bedrooms and associated corridors and I’m currently assessing any defects prior to handover from the contractor in the next few days. 

I’m also working on a Euston Hotel project which involves a proposal to convert basement meeting rooms to create several 25 msq bedrooms with associated lightwells. Basement conversions are growing in popularity and an increasing number of our clients are looking to increase room count, revenue and asset value. We do a lot of space planning work and deal with planning applications to ensure the scheme gets approval. 

My work-day ends with the commute home from London or Derby in time for bath time with my son, followed by dinner and some quality time with my wife.

 What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the mix of responsibilities. I’m in London a few days a week across a dozen or so projects relating to several key clients. All the projects are at different stages and all require input from the team in Derby. 

How does what you do benefit your clients?

Our vast experience in the hotel sector within London is key for our clients, they trust us to advise, space plan and work with them to maximise the brief to get the most from the hotel both short term in terms of room rates and long term in relation to asset value.

What is your favourite architectural building?

This changes on a regular basis, however, my current favourite is a new hotel in London that has caught my eye called The Standard Hotel opposite St Pancras station. It has recently opened and is really pushing boundaries in terms of design and ethos, oh, and its hotel signage is upside down! It has classic Brutalist architectural design that features airy and contemporary rooms.

What city do you admire most for its architecture?

It has to be London, I have spent a lot of time in the City over the past decade and find it astonishing how quickly and effectively buildings can appear or be refurbished, changing the landscape and atmosphere in a short amount of time.

A close second is Manhattan, New York, for sheer scale. It is in a different league, the amount of high rise buildings in a small area is just mind blowing, the City appears so different if you just look up.

What will we find you doing in your spare time?

Since becoming a director, I have learnt even more to appreciate a good work life balance, my spare time is generally spent with my wife and son, in and around Belper, Derbyshire and surrounding areas. I also enjoy a good IPA or a glass of red with friends, watching Derby County, listening to a crime podcast or watching a good TV documentary.

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