Staff Feature: Honorary Professor John Cole CBE

Staff Feature: Honorary Professor John Cole CBE


John Cole


We are delighted that John Cole’s Honorary Professorship has been extended until 2022.

John Cole is an architect, currently acting as an independent consultant, primarily in the role of a strategic client adviser on the planning, design and implementation of a range of major national and international public and private sector infrastructure projects.

Up to 2013 he was Chief Executive of Health Estates Agency in Northern Ireland where he developed and successfully implemented a range of innovative procurement models, aimed at improving the quality of design and construction in the public sector with a particular focus on health buildings. During this period, he had overall responsibility for the planning design and construction of a programme of major health projects with a combined value in excess of £3.5 billion. Many of these health buildings received design awards including RSUA, RIBA and International Design Awards.

From 2008 until 2012 John was chair of the European Health Property Network, the remit of which was to develop, share and promote internationally knowledge and information on best practice in the planning, design and development of health facilities.

In 2016, John was appointed to chair an Independent Inquiry into failures in school buildings in Scotland and wrote the ‘Report into the Construction of Edinburgh Schools’ published in February 2017. This report received national and international attention and its recommendations have led to significant changes by client groups, professional bodies and the wider construction industry throughout the UK in their approach to safeguarding the quality and safety of construction.
John was subsequently asked by the Scottish Government to chair a review of the effectiveness of ‘Compliance with and Enforcement of Building Standards in Scotland’, the report of which was published in June 2018 and which has led to an ongoing programme of changes to the system.

Since 2017 John has been a member of the RIBA’s Expert Advisory Group on the Grenfell Tower, which has made a series of recommendations to Government in relation to proposed improvements to the building regulations in relation to the design of High Rise Residential Buildings.

In October 2018, and following the concerns raised by the Grenfell Tower tragedy, John was appointed to act as a member of the UK Government’s Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG), the remit of which is to seek to bring about cultural changes and operational improvement in the approach taken by all sectors within the construction industry to quality and safety. He is also currently a member of the Procurement Advisory Group set up by Government.

In 2014 he was appointed as an Honorary Professor of Architecture at Queen’s University Belfast for a four-year term which appointment has been extended up to 2022.

John was President of the RSUA from 1996 -1998. In 2017 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Scottish Architects and in 2018 he was made an Honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland.

In 2013 he was appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his contribution to the  development of health infrastructure. In 2019 he became the second recipient of the Susan Francis Design Champion Award presented by the European Health Design Academy for “Visionary leadership and lifelong dedication to healthcare design”.

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