When you’re looking to play a part of one of the most exciting times in an area’s plans for construction and development, it’s important to make an immediate impact.
Having built a team of 15 specialists during its first five years, Benchmark Architects has now opened a new office in Milton Keynes, and is looking to channel its values of momentum, innovation and collaboration into an area that’s future is already being mapped out for the next half a century.
As it welcomed guests to the official opening of its Milton Keynes office last month, Mark Doohan, Managing Director of Benchmark, spoke about the opportunities the move presents and the benefits of arriving in town with a wealth of expertise and experience.
“It’s a fairly rare occurrence to open in a new area and immediately be one of the largest design studios around,” he said. “We’ve been going for five years now, working out of offices in Ampthill, and have built a team of 15 people, with most of those now based in Milton Keynes.
“Geographically, it’s an area we know, and where we have existing and emerging contacts, and so it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity for us.”
Benchmark Architects has grown year on year, specialising in large-scale residential projects, build-to-rent, private rental, private for sale, affordable housing and bespoke homes for domestic customers, as well as student accommodation, mixed-use developments, hotels and hospitality projects and crematoria.
The passionate and personable team prides itself on bringing creative and commercial design solutions to fruition, working with clients on designs that challenge and innovate. Current projects include a student housing scheme in Leicester, a new crematorium near Mepal in East Cambridgeshire and the completion of the 14-storey, 259 apartment development Lionel House, soon to be Landrow Place, in Birmingham.
Strategically, Benchmark’s three locations – Milton Keynes, Ampthill and its London office – align to support a national client base, each for specific reasons; London supports clients based in the capital, Ampthill supports domestic bespoke home projects and Milton Keynes, the practice’s collaborative hub for commercial development projects. Each has a different but important function, and each has its own specific plans for future expansion.
At the official opening of the Milton Keynes office in September, existing clients, local businesses, developers and networking contacts were invited to find out more about Benchmark Architects. The event included a presentation from First Base, the developer of Saxon Court, the former home of Milton Keynes Council, and a flagship project for Milton Keynes.
“Growth has always been part of our agenda and we’ve given ourselves stability and future opportunities by taking space in Victoria House on Avebury Boulevard. It is a great place to work and is near the station so has excellent transport links. It has something like double the capacity we currently need, which is fantastic for us, because it means we can commit to this location and grow to around 30 people over the next five to seven years.
“When we were considering our options, I was struck by the proactive and visionary approach of Milton Keynes, where a plan for the next 50 years has been put together. That’s incredibly exciting if you’re involved in property and construction. Being here not only allows us to service our clients in the way we want to, but it opens up new markets and opportunities for further collaboration. Innovation is important to us, and we are really keen to be part of the dialogue about the future of the region and want to make a big contribution to how central MK develops over the next few years and to be part of that momentum.”