Forty years of skill, experience and passion…
Established in 1983, we have evolved into a multi-disciplinary team covering the full range of residential and commercial architecture, and structural and civil engineering.
Listen to our story, and meet the key individuals who have transformed BDN into a successful, award-winning, unique business.
Building Design Northern Ltd was founded on 19th January 1983, by Barry Richardson, originating as an engineering firm.
For the first 10 years of trade, we held a strong niche in the retail sector of the construction industry, delivering a number of major construction projects for national retailers including B&Q and Halfords.
We purchased our first company computer in 1988. Purchased second hand from Halfords Head Office, the computer was the same size as a modern-day small car! This was solely used to work on our projects with Halfords, as other clients at the time didn’t operate with computers. We were unaware how significant technology would be for business and operations in future.
Clive Oliphant joined as a director on a full-time basis in 1993, to develop our Structural and Civil engineering design work, having previously worked as a consultant to BDN for 5 years. He set up our first Durham office to further develop close working relationships with local firms, enhancing BDN’s partnership approach to contracts – an integral part of how the company was designed to operate.
In 1993, BDN had 3 offices – a headquarters in Darlington, and offices in Bradford and Durham.
We relocated our headquarters and operated solely from the new Rivergreen Centre, Durham in 2007. BDN’s engineers provided the engineering design for the office building, which proceeded to win multiple regional and national awards.
After 30 years of service, Barry Richardson retired in 2013. Clive Oliphant and Gary Ward subsequently became the new managing directors and co-owners of the business.
Throughout 2017, we began to receive multiple enquiries for residential and commercial projects across the Country in the North-West, which only increased as we moved into 2018. As our office in the North-East continued with a steady workflow, we made the decision to expand, and opened our second office Ulverston, Cumbria. Whilst also offering our services nationally, we always remain loyal to our northern roots.
In 2019, Richard Marsden became managing director in a management buy-out (MBO). He acquired the remaining shares from Clive Oliphant and Gary Ward, who have stayed on as consultants to aid the transition. Richard has spent his full professional career at BDN, joining in 2001 as a trainee. He has witnessed BDN’s growth, and majorly influenced the development and success of the architecture department. With a niche in unlocking challenging sites, Richard has high ambitions to further accelerate the growth of the business.
In 2020 to aid our expansion, we purchased The Old School, Simpson Street, relocating our head office from Salvus House, Durham to Sunderland. The £1m renovation project transformed the 1800s, grade II listed, Old-School building into a sustainably stylish working environment and 8 luxury loft apartments. Our relocation to Sunderland highlights our aim to make a difference to the local economy and future generations, by giving a new lease of life to an important piece of Sunderland’s heritage.
The company restructured in 2021, appointing Directors for each department. Appointed were: Rochelle Richardson (Director of Finance), Luke Darwin (Director of Structural Engineering), Andrew Webb (Director of Civil Engineering), Dave Hunt (Director of Conservation and Design), Joe Warner (Director of Architecture) and Ryan Doyle (Director of Operations).
In 2023, BDN concluded the acquisition of Fitz Architects, a well-established Sunderland based practice, with a strong niche in residential design. We will continue trading under distinct brands, operating as sister companies.
We have now evolved into a multi-disciplinary team covering the full range of residential and commercial architecture, and structural and civil engineering, with an ambitious, forward-thinking workforce. Since moving into Simpson Street in 2021, we currently have 27 employees who make up a dynamic, talented team, striving to continuously deliver innovative ideas to clients.