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2020 End of Year Review

As in previous years as we come to the end of the year I wanted to write to you, our members, with a few reflections and a look ahead. So for 2020 - the year of the acronym…

First, we had COVID and all the attendant horror of the pandemic, then we had WFH and the London lockdown, the likely death of the office along with the impending demise of London as everyone planned to sell up and move to country. In short WAYTW (What A Year That Was!)

But throughout all this and in fact two lockdowns, social distancing, family bubbles and sadly very, very few people on the streets of the City for many months, I’m pleased to say that we did manage to keep the Forum operating and indeed growing.

As we like so many organisations faced the advent of a ‘new but unknown normal’ the Forum evolved and we managed to hold 12 events; starting with a very privileged tour of the new Museum of London site with Sharon Ament and Paul Williams all the way back in February and culminating, on 24 November with a splendid session about the transformation of 100 Liverpool Street with Charlie Horne of British Land and Mike Taylor from Hopkins Architects.

I have been delighted that despite all the challenges that we’ve been presented with this year your Committee has remained ever committed and enthusiastic to the cause and has therefore been able to lay on such a wide-ranging programme. The webinars or, as we have called them, lectures, have been well attended on the night and well ‘visited’ when subsequently posted on YouTube.

Whilst not allowing the face to face contact and spontaneity of our traditional Forum events, your Committee rightly identified a gap in the many offerings out there in the real estate sphere alongside a perceived need for some form of personal connectedness; the lecture programme has been a testimony to the appeal of the breadth of events arranged and all the while maintaining our essential City of London connection. I offer my thanks to each and every person who has been involved in both the organising and in the individual lectures themselves.

We have seen some changes to the Committee this year with Hon. Secretary Christine Wong stepping down after a period of sterling service, and former Chairman Roger Kallman has also stepped down from the Committee after many, many years of involvement. Christine and Roger, we thank you both for your commitment and enthusiasm over the years and hope to see you both at events in the New Year.

David Magyar (John Robertson Architects) has stepped up to the role as Hon. Sec, and as of the beginning of November we welcomed Hala El Akl (PLP Architecture) as the newest member to the Committee.I look forward to working with both Hala and David over the coming months.

As many of you may be aware, 2021 will be the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Forum by Michael Cassidy and Tom Wilmott in the wake of the Prince of Wales’ remarks that the Luftwaffe had done less damage to the City than the developers. I am pleased to report that we have every intention once the COVID situation becomes clearer of arranging a suitable event to recognise this significant milestone for the Forum.

We will also be looking to arrange a programme of new events for 2021 and the nature of these will of course depend on the emerging picture of the impact of further tiers of anti-COVID measures in London and the availability of the vaccine programme. I like many other remain very firmly of the view that there is a genuine desire for people to come back to Central London and that the City of London which has a truly rich heritage of survival - think the Great Fire, the Blitz, the IRA bombs - will recover and re-emerge as a 21st century destination. The built environment will play a huge part in this renaissance and we can be there to our part.

My best wishes to you and yours; stay safe and I hope to see you all in real life in the New Year.


Andrew Reynolds

Forum Chair

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