ARCHITECT - PASSIONATE ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND THE STRENGTHENING OF COMMUNITIES
George Ferguson is a versatile architect who is passionate about the quality of the built environment and the strengthening of communities, speaks his mind and practices what he preaches. He was RIBA President until August 2005.
After a short period in local government town planning and private architectural practice, in Bristol and London, he built up his own practice in the mid-1970s leading to the formation of Ferguson Mann in 1978. He founded the national group of practices, Acanthus, in 1986, which has been described as 'the architectural networks of networks' and is based on his belief in regional diversity and excellence.
He was also a founder of the Concept Planning Group, which planned the successful £90 million Bristol Millennium project, @Bristol (including the two educational visitor attractions, 'Wildwalk' and 'Explore') and major new city spaces which won the 2002 Civic Trust Special Urban Design Award.
He has taken a leading role in the masterplanning of the Bristol Harbourside redevelopment and has been very influential in planning issues in Bristol, including the creation of the Brunel or Millennium Mile. His scheme for Canons Marsh, dubbed Bristol Venice, received much coverage in the architectural and property press with particular note for its approach to urban design and sustainability issues. George and his practice have won several national awards from the RIBA, RICS and Civic Trust. The practice has always maintained a balance of social, cultural and commercial work. Amongst his practice's many projects is the mixed use Royal William Yard scheme in Plymouth for award winning developers Urban Splash, considered to be one of the most remarkable examples of adaptive reuse of historic buildings in the country.
He has a wide variety of experience in architectural projects of all periods and types and in the management of various organisations and schemes requiring an amalgam of skills and talents, and writes and broadcasts on environmental and architectural matters. He was the presenter of the HTV series The Architecture Show and featured in the 2003 Building of the Year programme on Channel 4, as well as appearing frequently as a pundit on news programmes. He is also a seasoned conference and dinner speaker.
He has rescued listed and other historic buildings by finding new and imaginative uses, most notably 'The Tobacco Factory' in Bedminster, Bristol, a 4,000 sq.m mixed use project, incorporating theatre, academy for performing arts, restaurant, café bar, offices for creative industries, animation course and loft apartments. This scheme, independent of any public funding, has been credited with the remarkable regeneration of this previously depressed area of South Bristol. 'The Tobacco Factory Theatre' is now of national renown and the subject of frequent reviews in the national 'broadsheets'. He lives in a loft apartment at the top of the building that was featured in the 2003 BBC2 series 'Britain's Best Homes'.
Following the success of the 'Tobacco Factory', in which he only offers space to independent businesses and organisations, he acquired the nearby 'Ashton Gate Brewhouse', which has been defunct for over 70 years, where he has developed a micro brewery known as the 'Beer Factory', which follows his principles of local, sustainable, independent business, and which produces organic ale, lager, stout and lemonade - all sold in his successful café bar.
He was drawn into local politics in the seventies by what he saw as a philistine Council that failed to see the qualities of its own City, and was a Liberal parliamentary candidate for Bristol West in the eighties. He no longer takes an active part in party politics. He was later appointed the first High Sheriff of Bristol (1996-1997). He was a founder of Britain's first hands-on science centre, the 'Exploratory', in the eighties, and later it's Chairman. He is Architect to the Royal West of England Academy and is President of the Avon Youth Association. He was in 1999 awarded an honorary degree by the University of Bristol, and an Honorary Doctorate by the University of West of England in 2003.
His RIBA Presidency ran to 31 August 2005 and he now divides his time between his business and architectural interests in Bristol, and his official duties in London and abroad. His other interests include design in all its aspects, photography, the performing arts, people, travel and 'making things happen'.
George was awarded a CBE in the New Years Honours List 2010 for his services to architecture and the community in the South West.
On November 16th 2012, George became Bristol's first Elected Mayor.