Shaper: James O’Callaghan

Show aired on 11th November 2017


James O’Callaghan

James is a structural engineer with over 20 years’ experience. He co-founded Eckersley O’Callaghan in 2004, which has since grown into a 90 strong, award-winning practice based in London, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Shanghai.

The practice was recognised as ‘Engineering Consultant of the Year’ at the Building Awards 2016. Focused on cutting-edge engineering solutions, James’ work has continuously challenged and redefined what is considered possible, particularly in contemporary architecture. James is widely acknowledged as an authority in structural glass design through his long-standing collaboration with Apple. Most recently, he has contributed to Apple Campus 2 and the Steve Jobs Theater.

James is a member of the HS2 Design Panel and is Visiting Professor at TU Delft. In 2016, he was awarded the Milne Medal for excellence in structural design – one of the highest accolades for an individual in the industry.

Follow James on Twitter @JamesOCEngineer.

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It was the two of us to start with. We were in a small backroom shed in Islington and just thought we’d throw together my experiences in the US with his experience in working locally in Islington and see what comes out the other end.

It has always been very culturally diverse, we have been working internationally from a very small scale, always happy and excited to be working in different places.

…I was continually, and continue to be, very excited about the fact that we can use science and maths and research to create extraordinary things in the physical sense.

The thing about engineering is that it touches everything that we do so it’s got that sort of richness that I think is very diverse.

Clients are generally happy if you do a good job so that’s the main approach that we try to take.

One challenge as we get older is that we have experiences which tend to narrow our focus of ingenuity and I try very hard to try and fight that, to be as brave and as bold as possible and as wide in a construct of ideas.

I think by interacting with younger engineers, by keeping a broad understanding of what is happening in the world and what is happening in science and other areas outside of your particular area of work, it can start to keep those ideas flowing

Whether its people you work with in your firm or people you work with externally, it’s who you meet every day and the ideas that they bring and the way in which they inspire you. That’s it. That’s the bottom line, I think.