Chris Bell


MEng CEng MIStructE
Whitby Wood director and structural team leader Chris Bell thrives on the design and construction of complex, challenging projects. He takes pride in delivering well-detailed, appropriate, efficient and innovative design solutions that relate directly to the requirements of a project. He sums up his first principles approach by saying,

“Each project starts with a blank sheet of paper, and fresh thinking about the issues involved. Your experience informs the design, whether it’s a temporary structure or something built to last a century or two.”

Sixteen years of wide-ranging experience gives Chris a thorough knowledge of construction techniques and construction logistics. He underlines the importance of analysing a project and understanding its constraints as the basis for applying engineering rigour to the structural design, and stresses this is fundamental to ensuring project development is informed and controlled.

Taking the holistic view, in which coordination and clear communication are key to the success of a project, he fully engages with client, architect and contractor, as well as the wider team, to ensure buildability is embedded in every design. He is ready happy to explain the technicalities of a project and interrogate the options, transforming a concept design into structural reality. As he says, “You’re working with really good architects of all different schools and you need to unlock the potential of what they’re trying to achieve.”

His notable built projects include an office building in the International Quarter at Olympic Park in London (arch: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, eng: Mott MacDonald), detailed design for the Oslo National Museum in Norway (arch: Kleihues + Schuwerk, eng: Ramboll), project engineer for the British Museum World Conservation Exhibition Centre in London (arch: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, eng: Ramboll) and project engineer for the British Museum Archaeological Research Collection near Reading (arch: John McAslan + Partners, eng: Mott MacDonald).

Chris is also highly experienced in the design and construction of lightweight, moving and temporary structures for theatrical, events and sports uses — requiring an in-depth understanding of wind management, fabrication and logistics, worldwide.

Though active and sporty, he admits to being a structural engineering geek who reads books on engineering history. He always wants to know how things work. And he’s competitive — his ethos is, “If you have a setback, try again, and try harder.”

TEL +44 (0)20 7442 2216