Q&A with Mark Palmer, Director and Edinburgh Office Leader

A large wooden-floored room lit with daylight from large windows, with several people sitting in small groups

Last month, Mark Palmer (our Edinburgh Office Leader) was interviewed by Urban Realm for their annual Engineering Survey.

Mark wrote about the range of engineers and consultants we have in our Edinburgh office, the climate crisis and urgent need to decarbonise our buildings, and the practice's philosophy.

Read the full interview below.


What is your proudest achievement of the past year?

My proudest achievement is our team in Edinburgh. This year, our team will number over 50 passionate, committed and skilled MEP engineers, sustainability consultants, Passivhaus designers, lighting designers and administrators. I set up the office 20 years ago with a small team and we have grown steadily on the back of an impressive portfolio of projects and collaborations with many of Scotland’s most creative architects and design teams. These have ranged from large, public buildings such as National Museum of Scotland, the John Hope Gateway and the Glasgow Theatre Royal, to community projects such as Iona Village Hall and Kinning Park.


What distinguishes 2022 from past years?

Since the climate emergency was declared by the Scottish Government in 2019, progress in the way we construct, refurbish and operate buildings has been far too slow. This year’s unprecedented fuel crisis is causing misery for households and businesses, but has also generated a new imperative and urgency to reduce the energy demands of our buildings. Through our long track record of low carbon building design, we are perfectly placed to help building owners decarbonise their existing buildings and estates. We are working with a growing number of universities, colleges and schools to drastically improve the performance of their buildings and quickly phase out their use of fossil fuels.


What is your practice philosophy?

Max Fordham is a partnership built on trust, responsibility and commitment. Max, himself, formed the partnership in the 1970s as “a responsibility-sharing scheme, rather than a profit-sharing scheme”. At the heart of our partnership is a commitment to tackling the climate and biodiversity emergency our world is facing.

Our people are the focus of the business. They are encouraged to explore possibilities, in an intellectual environment that facilitates problem-solving, allowing them to thrive. We train them to think creatively and practically, focusing on designs and approaches that will deliver real sustainable outcomes for our clients. Our engineers across our five UK offices - together with our specialists in Sustainability, Passivhaus, Lighting and Acoustics – share ideas and knowledge to help us deliver well-considered “Beautiful Engineering”.


An interior hallway of a building lit by rooflights

© Will Scott