In the latest of the Lunch and Learn series the ULI Young Leaders sat down with Todd Lundgren to hear about his career and CallisonRTKL’s participation in the ULI.
Todd is the Executive Director and Regional Practice Leader for the UK and Europe at CallisonRTKL. He wanted to be an architect since the age of 15 and said that his family heritage may have played a part. His great grandfather was an architect in New York City and Todd still has some of his original hand drawings.
Todd’s architecture degree was a work-study program at the University of Cincinnati. During the six year program, he spent two years in practice with a small architecture firm in Ohio. He valued the balance of practical and academic learning, particularly in architecture where juggling the theory and the reality is often challenging.
When he finished his degree he wanted to work on big projects which led him to CallisonRTKL, where he has been for the past 35 years. Todd said the projects at CallisonRTKL were always challenging and company gave him many opportunities to grow.
After a few years with the company he approached his boss with a proposal to start working on hotels. His boss gave him six months to find the work and make some money – and he did. Now as a leader at CallisonRTKL he is conscious of giving young people an opportunity to step forward, pursue what they are passionate about and cultivate an environment that values initiative and innovation.
Todd understands the importance of having a good mentor and a support system. He said he valued working with people who showed confidence in him but also were prepared to provide counsel and help him learn. In his late twenties Todd was leading a team of 40 people on a building site. When he discussed the amount of responsibility given to him with his Director he was told ‘Don’t worry there is a net, you just haven’t needed it yet’. The same boss also gave him some valuable advice telling him ‘You don’t have to read the whole book, you just need to be one chapter ahead’.
In addition to mentorship, Todd also described the importance of team collaboration and trust in the successful delivery of a project. He discussed the role of architects in the creation of value and experience driven design. He credits his experience in the hospitality industry for a design process that is user focused and attentive to the public realm. For Todd, one of the most rewarding aspects of being an architect is seeing people experience the completed building and the spaces that have been created.
CallisonRTKL – ULI and Build to Rent Guide
After the Montague Report in 2012 there has been a focus on PRS (private rented sector, also know as Build to Rent) in the UK. At the time, CallisonRTKL had built 25,000 PRS units in North America and had built-up a wealth of expertise and knowledge in this practice area. Todd, having experience in both the US and UK, was well-positioned to guide clients who were interested in developing this housing typology in the UK market. He joined the ULI steering committee and has worked on both the 2014 and 2016 editions of the build to rent guide. He described the process as very collaborative, working on chapters and reviewing the work of others.
Thank you very much to Todd for an interesting insight into your career and valuable guidance.
Words by Lauren Poon and Caoimhe Loftus, CallisonRTKL