Sixteen Years On

This month is the sixteenth anniversary of my joining Terra Firma (and actually Robyn’s 17th though she subsequently has had a couple of short periods of ‘time out’ – maternity and working elsewhere). Amusing to reflect on what has happened over that time, though less so in terms of how one ages each team photo. We have just updated the website with such today along with a few other things across the board.

August 2012; Alison, Martin, Lionel, Ally, Paul, Robyn, Tom and Isla

In 1996 there were just four of us working out of small but very pleasant and characterful offices the other side of Petersfield. Terra Firma’s founder, my new business partner John Wigham had moved the small firm up from Portsmouth the year before to be a little nearer London and the traditional hinterland of Terra Firma’s clients from its eleven years of existence. To be frank, the firm had been through a pretty turbulent boom and bust history in its first five years at the end of the 80’s and it was something of a phoenix rising from the ashes, albeit building from some solid foundations – terra firma even.  Getting a partner aboard was as much John’s ‘game plan’ for making a gradual exit from practice (4 years later) as it was mine to start running my own thing.  Thankfully it worked well for us both.

1996; John Wigham and Lionel at the old offices in The Spain, Petersfield.

It is sometimes hard to remember that back then computer technology and the web was still in its early days within the profession, as were a lot of the now universally accepted practices of EIA, Green Infrastructure and sustainable technologies.

An early Terra Firma project, Hampshire Corporate Park, twenty years on in 2007.

Sixteen years on and the workload of schools, residential and healthcare with the occasional business park (and one or two quite  high profile ones both here and in the USA to be fair) has expanded to large scale strategies, masterplans and assessments with projects all over the world. We have just this week been appointed to a project in China, our first there and the 22nd country in which we have now operated. This is never to forget our roots here in the UK or with smaller projects which can be just as challenging.

UK map locating TF projects in last 5 years (with apologies to Dalcross for being cropped from the top!)
Alshamsi Terra Firma directors Lionel, Alistair and Jamie outside the Petersfield Offices August 21st.

It is hard to gauge where the world economy will take us all but currently it really is is ‘full on’ both here and with the Dubai office at the moment, and on target for the best year in the firm’s history – somewhat at odds with what one reads in the press but with fingers crossed we will be making the best of it.

With best wishes to you all

Lionel    August 2012


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