Arup’s venue consulting team has been strengthened with two senior appointments. Director Neill Woodger has moved back to the UK from Arup’s New York office and will be responsible for acoustics and integrated venue design projects in London, while Richard Bunn joins as a senior consultant in Arup’s Winchester office.

Woodger joined Arup after finishing university in 1988, and has since worked in several global offices, including Hong Kong, Sydney, and Los Angeles. His new position will utilize the skills he has developed in getting staff to work together seamlessly across business disciplines. “Over the last ten years in New York,” he explains, “I built a multi-disciplinary specialist consulting group that was able to deliver integrated design solutions for our arts clients. The different skills that are required for any major project are strongly interlinked, so it makes sense that the team works closely together to develop holistic solutions.”

Woodger was also instrumental in setting up the SoundLab, a facility that allows the client to hear the acoustical quality of their building before it is built. “It has been very successful in engaging clients in way that allows them to directly experience and understand acoustical choices,” he says. “We originally developed the SoundLab in New York, and now have similar rooms in Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Glasgow. We are also very excited to be opening a brand new facility in London later this month. A client can go to any one of them and listen to how their new venue will sound, whether it is a new opera house, airport terminal, or Olympic stadium. Just as importantly, they can hear their building compared to existing buildings, giving clients a benchmark against which to measure.”

A classically trained musician—he plays piano, trombone, and the guitar—Woodger is also a champion of both environmental and economic sustainability. “The running costs for any public arts building can be several times its ticket income, and with the reliance on subsidy or donations, designers have
a responsibility to ensure that their projects are efficiently designed so that they can survive in the long term. This means they must not only satisfy the public and legislative demands for them to be environmentally sustainable, but also ensure they don’t become a liability for future generations.” Neill’s advisory skills also include helping arts and entertainment clients develop sustainable business strategies for both events and buildings.

Senior consultant Richard Bunn joins Arup from Theatre Projects Consultants, where he worked as a systems consultant for three years. His wide experience includes product design and project management with two lighting manufacturers, as well as freelance theatrical lighting designs. Delighted to be joining Arup, he says: “I have worked with many Arup people in various guises since university and have gained huge respect for their skills, professionalism and innovation. The opportunity to make a contribution to this and develop using the extensive pool of knowledge and worldwide support that is available became irresistible. The venues team provides theatre consultancy services at the highest level and requires a professional team working alongside engineers and architects. I am looking forward to using my broad background to make an immediate contribution to current projects.”