Asad Shaheed, CH2M's director, urban planning in Europe, talks about his experiences working in Europe and around the world.
While starting out as an architect my later experience in Tehran shifted my thinking and my career into urban design and planning. I have since worked across 40 countries on projects for the public and private sectors and for international and bilateral agencies.
I travelled extensively growing up, as my father was a United Nations official. We were based in New York while I gained a master’s degree in architecture. I worked with multi-disciplinary teams on urban design guidelines for Tehran in the 1970s. This work revealed a unique insight into how buildings and spaces interact within their urban context, and served as the impetus that would shift my professional emphasis from architecture to urban design.
I moved to the UK in 1979 and subsequently started working with CH2M. My current role is to lead urban planning projects or master planning sub-teams. Recent work includes industrial projects for government and private clients in Saudi Arabia, regional plans for the governments of Mauritius and Trinidad, and integrated development projects in China.
I have no fixed working hours. We have offices across the world and I work with local teams based in different countries. The Middle East week starts on a Sunday, offices in the US and Middle East start and end their work either side of our working day in London. Added to this is extensive travel, so I often take a mid-week ‘weekend’ whenever the workload allows.
I have seen first-hand that knowledge of British planning is readily exportable given many cities across the world have roots in British planning principles. A background in UK planning will place professionals on a sound footing abroad.
* Asad Shaheed, CH2M, London / RTPI honorary member
** This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of The Planner
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