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Autumn 2018Interview with Latifah McIntosh

Design co-ordinator helping shape Rochdale Riverside

Latifah McIntosh, the design co-ordinator at Willmott Dixon, is helping shape Rochdale’s new shopping and leisure development as work continues in the heart of the town centre.

Graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in construction management in 2014, Latifah has taken on various roles at different construction sites, from being part of an operations team for a £15 million secondary school renovation, to working as an assistant design manager for a mixed-use development.

Now the design co-ordinator for Rochdale’s Riverside project, Latifah is adding to her experience as she works further towards her goals.

She said: “I have been working with Willmott Dixon on the Riverside project since February.

“I always wonder when my interest in construction began. At college I completed A-levels in sociology, psychology, law and photography, which are clearly not construction related. As a teenager, I always had an interest in buildings and the way they look, and I liked the idea of seeing how these buildings really came together from design work, so I guess construction is just something I progressed into from my interests.

“I originally applied to my chosen university for construction project management, but that course got cancelled so I chose construction management instead and I ended up really enjoying the course. There was only one other female on the course and the rest were male.

“My second and third year of university was work experience, where I could actually see things happening on-site. I could apply what I had learnt whilst continuing to learn more about the role.

“My first work experience was at St Cuthbert’s, Rochdale working on a demolition, new build and then refurbishment for a year. After that I worked on Fair Street in Manchester with Carillion developing a student block, when I finished university and was taken on full time.

“On this project with Wilmott Dixon I am responsible for managing and co-ordinating the design process.

“We regularly hold design workshops to make sure the project is within the budget and I also bring together the supply chains, making sure everything is right. I manage the building control and planning side of things too, whilst issuing drawings and samples.

“My favourite part of the job is definitely the customer side of it because you’re showing and talking them through the process of what you’re delivering and what they are going to be using at the end of it all. There’s a lot of problem solving and technical aspects too, which is always interesting trying to fix and solve something.

“The scheme benefits Rochdale as it is going to bring a lot more footfall to the area in terms of the retail side of the town centre, especially with the cinema. There are several units for restaurants too.

“It also benefits the town as it’s a modern retail complex in an open space; there are a lot of pedestrian areas in the development like the ones around Number One Riverside, as well as places for people to sit and relax, which I think is a particularly good aspect of the scheme.

“After this scheme is completed, I will most likely move on to another project, but one of my goals in 10 to 20 years’ time is to move and work in Australia. With having a construction degree, it’s really helpful in gaining a skilled visa.“

Wilmott Dixon, which specialises in leisure complexes, also constructed the £10m Rochdale Leisure Centre in 2012. St Anne’s Academy in Middleton was another project. Rochdale Riverside will have 200,000 square ft of retail and leisure space to encourage investment and the regeneration of Rochdale.

The project is due to be handed over in the early summer of 2020.