Rosie Thirlwell ACIAT

Words by Patrick McMahon, Partner, FaulknerBrowns

Rosie is a highly deserving candidate due to her significant impact and unwavering passion in the field of Architectural Technology. In just six years, she has made remarkable strides, ascending from a trainee to a Senior Architectural Technologist. Rosie’s influence is evident not only in her impressive project portfolio, which includes the successful refurbishment of Newcastle Civic Centre and Britannia Leisure Centre, but also in her commitment to collaboration and sustainability. Her passion for detail-oriented work and innovative design solutions has consistently delivered award-winning projects, but her contributions extend beyond her professional achievements as she actively promotes diversity, inclusion, and wellbeing within the construction industry and CIAT. Her role as a trailblazer and advocate for young women in a male-dominated industry is a testament to her impact and determination. With her exceptional leadership skills and relentless passion, Rosie is an exemplary candidate for the Emerging Talent Award.

Rosie first joined FaulknerBrowns Architects on a work placement in 2014 and her commitment and attitude made a very positive impression; the practice was compelled to offer her a permanent position as a trainee Architectural Technologist while she completed her studies part time. In 2017 Rosie graduated with First Class Honours and won the CIAT Outstanding Student Award. In less than six years, she has worked her way up from a trainee to a Senior Architectural Technologist, showing her drive to develop professionally and lead others. She now runs projects and is the technical lead on high profile and complex schemes, such as the refurbishment of Newcastle Civic Centre, Britannia Leisure Centre and Woolwich Leisure Centre, a new community facility in London. Rosie is now on track to achieve Chartership in 2023 after returning from maternity leave.

Rosie’s role, detailing how a building is constructed, is creative and complex, requiring a lot of coordination and collaboration with other disciplines. As a technical lead, she encourages collaboration by holding design workshops with consultants and works hard to ensure everyone is communicating effectively together. Rosie is a keen clarinettist, playing in a quartet and prestigious events, and so an understanding of team dynamics comes naturally to her. Her open and flexible nature has allowed her to create strong relationships within the industry, from members of the design team, Building Control, planners to and suppliers.

Rosie combines a strong leadership style with excellent people management skills. These attributes drive not only her project work, but her influence as a founding member of FaulknerBrowns’ Wellbeing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) groups. The two causes are important to her, and she has worked to create a better working environment that gives back to the community, an approach that was instrumental in her winning Highly Commended for the G4C Future Leader Award in 2022.

Rosie is passionate about public sector buildings that can deliver social value in spades, having recently worked on Britannia Leisure Centre, a project innovative both for its stacked form and approach to inclusivity and accessibility. She challenged the design team to create innovative solutions for structural challenges created by stacking sports facilities. Rosie was instrumental in the delivery of this project and was the single point of contact with the contractor. Now complete, the centre operates innovative programming, including transgender and women-only swim sessions, and Rosie led FaulknerBrowns in donating to the Black Swimming Association, who have been using Britannia for their pioneering learn to swim pilot.

At FaulknerBrowns, Rosie encourages collaboration through sport to promote team building, as well as collaborations with charities, local businesses and initiatives in her role on the CSR and Wellbeing working groups. She has often attended career days to promote architectural technology and supported the PlanBEE programme to prepare young people for a career in a broad range of technical and professional roles in the construction industry, which aimed to create an interdisciplinary working ethos.

Rosie regularly works to improve the practice’s awareness of sustainability, for example organising an ‘Earth Focus’ day and implementing changes to recycling and consumption habits. However, as a talented technologist, Rosie is particularly interested in the sustainability of projects and Passivhaus principles – a fabric first approach to sustainability, where the detailing of a building ensures its energy efficiency. Her knowledge on the subject is ever developing, and she is keen to review the office’s standard details to implement these design principles into everyday buildings. She takes the project lead on BREEAM submissions / coordination.

Rosie’s work for social good has left a legacy at FaulknerBrowns and within the industry. She personally leads the practice’s charitable giving, organising fundraising events and donations which have raised over £14,000 in the last year. However, the most lasting legacy she believes she can leave is a change in the stigma she has experienced related to being a young woman in a male-dominated industry. Rosie is young but ambitious and knowledgeable, and she challenges stereotypes. As a result, she has gained respect from her colleagues and collaborators. She works to inspire other young women to do the same, and recently wrote an article for Women in Construction UK Magazine on her experience in the built environment and the importance of encouraging young people.

Rosie is passionate about encouraging more open discussion of the impact of family life and championing the benefits of a more flexible approach to work. Within FaulknerBrowns, she has been instrumental in promoting hybrid working and flexible working patterns. More recently, she has shown tenacity and flexibility when managing work alongside morning sickness and has used this experience to promote to her peers the importance of prioritising your health and wellbeing.

Rosie shows great capability, determination, professional standards and conduct which she displays at all times, and through the happy demeanour which she exudes. As a student, Rosie joined CIAT’s northern region to meet and encourage other technologists but found their meetings to be quite insular and passive. She wanted to stay on in the group to develop the region into a proactive hub that could host more engaging events and provide support for young professionals.

Rosie recently became an ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS) and was one of the organisers for their latest Northern Region event, a pub quiz which raised over £400 for the charity. She is proud to support ABS and hopes that she will be able to help Architectural Technologists through the charity.

Despite still being a young professional, Rosie is driven to develop her leadership skills by attending events such as the CIOB’s Strategic Leadership Programme in Construction, to network with leaders who might have more experience. She implements the knowledge she gains in management and business structure as an active mentor, guiding both architects and technologists who are less experienced. Like a true leader, she is patient and always willing to share knowledge. She has even championed a change in our mentoring processes, by setting up a new assessment scheme for personal development at the practice.

Rosie is committed to the discipline of Architectural Technology and aspires to do better and help improve the role of AT’s. She has also left a great impact on the industry, through her role in CIAT and with mentoring within the office. Her projects have such positive impacts on the community and show excellence in Architectural Technology.