CB1 – the new city quarter for Cambridge


14 May 2019

Meet Bonnie, an engineer who works in CB1

Bonnie Leung is a structural engineer with Mott Macdonald, one of the companies based in 22 Station Road. We talk to her about her life and work in CB1.

 Why are you working in Cambridge?

The first time I came to Cambridge was actually for an English summer school because I’m originally from Hong Kong. On that trip, about 10 years ago, I was really impressed by King’s College, and I applied to study at Cambridge. My next visit was my interview! I graduated in 2012 and here I am.

How did you find your job with Mott Macdonald?

In the holidays, I did an internship with Mott Macdonald in their Hong Kong offices – it’s an international company. They took me on in the Norwich offices as an ‘old employee’ straight out of Uni, and I joined the team in Cambridge in 2015, just before we moved into the new building at 22 Station Road.

CB1 is already so different from when I first came... it feels like a real hub here now

What’s your commute like?

I live south of Cambridge, so my journey into work is straight up the Trumpington busway, normally by bike, but I admit I take the bus when it's especially cold! The bicycle network is pretty good, so it doesn’t take longer than 15 minutes door to door. There’s cycle parking in our building, which is handy, and I often leave my bike in Cycle point across from the Station if I’m heading to London or elsewhere for a meeting.

What does your job as a structural engineer involve?

My job involves designing any structure that bears a load: that could be the floor or columns or cores of buildings. It’s all done using advanced technologies like Building Information Modelling and other 3D design tools. There’s a messier side too: at Motts, we have an initiative called ‘launch pad’ where we invite primary school children in for a day to experience engineering. I run the ‘choc-crete’ activity, replicating the concrete mixing process with chocolate and cereals. The best bit is testing the mix!

Have you been involved in the development of CB1?

Mott Macdonald has been involved in CB1 since very early stages, working with the architects and the client to do feasibility studies and preliminary designs for various buildings. In the case of 50/60 Station Road, Mott MacDonald carried the project right through to construction, and that’s where I come in.

I visit the building site with the contractor to make sure it’s being built to our design and to oversee some of the more technical aspects of construction. The building will be finishing this month. Now I’m the project manager and structural lead on the next CB1 development 30 Station Road. It’s a step up in responsibility, so I’m really looking forward to overseeing its construction. There’s not much on site at the moment, but we’ve now completed detailed designs, so the next number on Station Road is taking shape.

What are the offices like?

Our offices in 22 Station Square are much more comfortable than Murdoch house, the now demolished building on the corner of Station Square where we were beforehand: there are fewer columns, and big open spaces, with lots of natural light. Because part of my job is visiting the sites I’m working on, it’s especially handy that I can look out of my window in 22 Station Road over the building site at 30 Station Road.

Where’s your favourite place to grab lunch or a coffee in CB1?

I actually like Wasabi the most! Previously we didn’t have these stores and cafes in the area, so we’d have to go into Regent Street to go to Tesco, or bring in our own lunch. It’s nice when it gets warm in the summer and people take their picnics to the green space behind the Tamburlaine.

What are your other favourite spots in the city?

So I used to love King’s College, but I now prefer Trinity, but I’m biased because I studied there! The Backs is one of my favourite places to hang out. I also like heading out of the centre on my bike to spend the day Grantchester – there is a nice church and tea shop there.

What do you hope to see CB1 become over the coming years?

It’s already so different from when I first came. If you had come to Cambridge before CB1, you would find piles of cycles outside the station. I see CB1 as the new signature of Cambridge: one the Square gives Cambridge a brighter image, and the new office buildings attract the big companies like Amazon and Mott Macdonald of course! It feels like a real hub here now, a place for people to come together for work, socialising, or before heading on elsewhere.

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