I was indecisive when choosing my degree, I knew that I had to futureproof myself for whatever came my way. After some back and forth I settled on Geography, opting for something vast in scope and relevant to our everyday, writes Rochelle Silverstein of Allied London.
I’ve always been affected by the buzz of urban places – that intangible feeling you get when you sit in a bustling café or bar, a public square, or old building brought back to life. I was fascinated by how people use spaces and how it makes them feel.
I chose a module on The Culture of Cities in my second year at University of Manchester, run by my amazing tutor Helen Wilson. Each lecture somehow focused on how cultures are built, played out and celebrated in space; I knew then that I somehow wanted to be involved in creating those spaces.
I went on to write a dissertation focused on creative clustering in cities and the resulting atmosphere using The Old Truman Brewery, East London as a case study. Whilst researching I stumbled across an interview with my current chief executive Mike Ingall. Mike was talking through the Spinningfields development illustrating his strategy for bringing it to life. Allied London were literally creating a place and I wanted in. Little did I know Mike would help to shape my career over the coming years.
I managed to get the abstract of my dissertation in front of Mike through a friend, and following an interview I was asked to “just join the business and let’s see what happens”, which I interpreted as: “Come aboard and let’s see if you sink or swim!”
Whilst friends of mine worked through their RICS competencies at Savills and Cushman’s, I worked across various parts of the business at Allied of my own accord, absorbing as much as I could from the people around me. It became evident quickly that my interests lay with the retail and leisure projects within the Allied portfolio. I loved how creativity and passion can be combined with a space or development to create a truly amazing experience – with an atmosphere you can actually feel.
Four years and a number of amazing projects later at Allied London, I’m focusing on retail and leisure, working on some of Manchester’s most incredible schemes and buildings, including London Road Fire Station and Enterprise City – bringing them to life with new restaurant concepts, cafes, production spaces and alternative uses, and exploring ways of delivering them.
I’m constantly inspired by the people around me; incoming tenants and their concepts, and the Allied London team. My job is to try and knit the two together and bring it into reality, and I’m constantly challenged to think outside the box with obscure briefs and alternative spaces, learning something new as I go.
When I stop to think about it, I really am doing what I set out to do – developing great places in the city of Manchester.