Neil Preston, the manager for airport project services, handles jobs with a construction budget of more than HK$20 million I usually get to work about 7.30am or 8am, although I will often have completed some work at home beforehand - probably e-mails. Like many people these days, I get flooded by e-mails, both from internal departments and from consultants working on our projects. A lot of it has a material impact on the way any particular job is going, so I have to deal with it promptly. We handle the larger projects at the airport rather than smaller maintenance operations - generally those with a construction budget of more than HK$20 million. Most of our projects come from the passenger terminal business or retail sections - there might be some new requirements, such as the need for more retail space, or there may be a functional problem related to increased air traffic. Our work tends to be increasingly outside the development parameters of the original airport 'master plan'. We are constantly looking at new ways to meet the challenges presented by the airport's growth - both in passenger numbers and in demand for new retail space. Most of our construction projects at the airport are either commercially or operationally inspired, and I get involved in the functional possibilities and limitations associated with the project and following that, writing up a brief. I still get involved in the actual drawing up of designs, but because of the scale of some of our projects, such as Sky Plaza, we don't have the in-house capacity to deal with all aspects of the design work, so we get consultants in and they take up the design challenge. One of my roles is to ensure that the quality of those designs is up to our standard and fully appropriate to the brief. I started working for the Airport Authority Hong Kong in 1996, so most of the projects I've worked on have been concentrated 'within' the passenger terminal rather than 'new build', though we have had some new construction projects such as Sky Plaza [Terminal 2], which is opening soon. I'm an old-fashioned architect in the sense that I get heavily involved in leading projects and with the various teams and consultants involved, to make sure it is co-ordinated properly. On a big job such as Sky Plaza, there is bound to be a lot of confusion in regards to the finer details and the way the design is to be resolved. Consequently, every day I'm involved in a lot of dialogue, discussions and meetings and I might have to produce sketches to make sure we get the design solutions we are looking for. One of the big challenges is to get things as perfect as we can in the time that we have while also reconciling the disparate requirements of the various individual business units of the airport authority. Mediating between these parties can at times be frustrating, but bringing things to a successful conclusion for all involved is very satisfying, so you could say that the challenges and frustrations of the job are closely linked. When I was younger I was far more involved in the hands-on, nitty-gritty of a construction project than I am now, and I do miss that to some extent. But generally it's great being involved in the dynamic environment of the airport and working with such a wide range of people. You need to be able to deal effectively with a lot of people in this job, so people skills are important, and to deal with the design teams and project consultants you must have an in-depth understanding of the subject. Sound design judgment and technical knowledge are essential.