New New era for stephenson STUDIO as founder takes a step back

Capital & Centric's Leonardo Hotel

A Manchester-based architectural practice has announced a new leadership team to lead the firm into a new era.

After almost 30 years at stephenson STUDIO, Keith Hamilton and Justin Risley have taken over as directors as founder Roger Stephenson takes a step back in a part-time role.

The move comes as the practice has undertaken a comprehensive rebrand, which has seen it change its name to stephenson hamilton risley STUDIO to reflect Keith and Justin’s significant contribution.

Between them, Keith and Justin have designed and delivered many of the practice’s recent hero projects, including Chetham’s School of Music, Leonardo Hotel in Manchester, Halle St. Peters in Ancoats, Exchange Square in Birmingham, Carlton House in London, and more.

The firm’s current projects nearing completion include Capital & Centric’s Leonardo Hotel, dubbed the ‘Jenga hotel, on the fringes of Manchester city centre, a residential conversion of a Grade II* Listed Mill for Urban Splash at Avro; two city centre projects for Property Alliance Group and the completion of Exchange Square masterplan for Nikal.

Keith Hamilton said: “I know I speak for Justin and myself when I say that it’s an honour to be steering the ship at stephenson hamilton risley STUDIO, as we look to grow the practice and further diversify our brilliant portfolio of projects.

“The architectural ethos and modus operandi of the practice will remain the same as that originally established by the founding partner, Roger Stephenson OBE, so we can ensure the continued output of consistently high-quality designs.

“However, we’ll be taking some steps towards a more client focussed approach to design.

“Too often architects are seen as introverted and self-referential, with clients feeling unconsidered.

“We would like to pursue active engagement and creative dialogue with our clients to help engender a trusting partnership in creating buildings.

“We would like to grow the practice to work beyond Manchester and the region, expanding our horizons and taking our creative team with us on the journey.”

Justin Risley added: “Working within this phenomenal team for so many years has been a real privilege. Having the opportunity to now lead them is a hugely exciting prospect for Keith and me.

“We’ll be taking care to preserve our vibrant studio atmosphere, which helps us attract the fantastic, creative client base that we do.”

Roger Stephenson OBE, who founded the practice in 1979, added: “The Practice and its people have been a huge part of my life over many years.  During that time I have been enormously privileged to have worked on a significant range of landmark projects with many talented architects, not least of whom are Keith and Justin who have been by my side for 30 years.

“It’s always difficult to let go but I genuinely couldn’t wish for anyone better than Keith and Justin to lead the practice going forward.  I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter of my life and delighted that I will have an on-going part-time role with stephenson hamilton risley STUDIO.”