Peter Barker

Managing Director

Peter Barker
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Peter leads the BIM Academy team, established by Ryder as a joint venture with Northumbria University in 2010. Peter’s role is to steer the consultancy business and ensure it brings value to its founders and the wider industry. As a Partner at Ryder, his roots lie in design and construction – rather than academia – and his 35 years technical and commercial experience is key to making sure that BIM Academy thrives as a relevant, well informed and commercially robust business. BIM Academy acts as a conduit through which academic research and pragmatic best practice are combined.

How would you summarise your current role?

It’s my job to steer our joint venture consultancy business and ensure it brings value to its founders: Northumbria University and Ryder (and the wider industry).

As a Partner at Ryder, my roots lie in design and construction – rather than academia – and my technical and commercial experience is key to making sure that we thrive as a relevant, well informed and commercially robust business. We act as a conduit through which academic research and pragmatic best practice are combined. Ultimately, our goal is to drive practical value for our clients and improve the built environment and those who use and enjoy it.

What inspires you?

I am always intrigued that regardless of the powerful functionality of software or the smartness of management processes, projects ultimately succeed or fail due to the nature of human personality and behaviour. Everyone has different motivations and skills: tuning in to these and creating a healthy environment for shared understanding and common purpose is often the key to success.

What do you believe are the current challenges in our industry, and how can we overcome them?

It’s become a cliché to say that the construction industry is slow to adopt change, but it is sadly true. Despite initiatives from governments (in all their permutations around the world), simply applying technology and a set of overcomplex standards and expecting results is delusional. The UK’s journey with BIM over the last ten years has only met with partial success. Maybe we need a generation to die out before a new breed, untarnished by decades of adversarial behaviour, will grasp the digital tools we now have and make a real difference

What’s going to be the next big thing for the digital built environment?

After several false starts over many years, offsite manufacture may have finally found its time. We simply can’t go on designing and constructing each project as though it were a one-off if we are going to meet the challenges in the homes sector – particularly in an environment where the skilled labour market is diminishing and poor quality control is leading to one catastrophe after another, both financial or human.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Before I joined my first architectural practice in the 1980s, I studied Classics at university. There’s something about analysing syntax, grammar and vocabulary which gives you a clarity of understanding about how information is structured and how meaning is communicated. The added bonus is I can answer the questions on University Challenge and get by in Greek on my holidays!

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