Albert Williamson-Taylor Named School of Architecture Convocation Speaker

Syracuse University’s School of Architecture is pleased to announce that world-renowned engineer Albert Williamson-Taylor, director and co-founder of international engineering firm AKT II will address graduates at the 2024 Convocation Ceremony on May 11 at 10 a.m. in Hendricks Chapel.

Williamson-Taylor grew up in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, and built his career in London, initially working for Price & Myers and for Anthony Hunt Associates, before ultimately co-founding Adams Kara Taylor—now AKT II—in 1996. Today, Taylor and his firm put design and technology at the forefront of engineering practice to find solutions for the planet’s many challenges.

While overseeing AKT II for over 25 years, Williamson-Taylor has worked on numerous high-profile projects with architects and designers in more than 50 countries. Under his technical leadership, AKT II’s service to both the art and science of design has been recognized with 400+ design awards, including four RIBA Stirling Prizes. The practice has also been named Building Awards 2019 “Engineering Consultant of the Year” and Architizer A+ Awards 2021 “Engineering Firm of the Year.”

Highlights of Williamson-Taylor’s portfolio of design authorship include the Stirling Prize-winning Bloomberg European Headquarters in London; the Google Headquarters “groundscraper” in London; the inhabited Vessel sculpture in New York; the master planned Google Mountain View campus in California; the demountable Seed Cathedral for Expo 2010 Shanghai in China; the eco-friendly Ummahat Al-Shaykh resorts on the Red Sea; the Masdar science city in Abu Dhabi; and the monumental National Cathedral development in Ghana. Williamson-Taylor’s portfolio also includes several landmark towers such as the South Bank Tower and Hylo redevelopments in London, the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad, and the Villaggio Vista residential development in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. He is presently leading the structural engineering for the Mukaab in Riyadh, becoming the largest building structure on the planet.

In addition to his professional practice, Williamson-Taylor has taught with London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture (the AA) since 2011, where he leads technical tutoring for the master-level architecture course within the institution’s Design Research Laboratory (DRL). He has also served as a design-review panelist for the London Borough of Southwark and the London Borough of Newham. Williamson-Taylor is a fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

In 2023, Williamson-Taylor was the first Black engineer to be awarded the IStructE Gold Medal Award—the Institution’s highest individual honor—in recognition of his outstanding contribution to structural engineering and to society. To celebrate this achievement, Williamson-Taylor delivered his Gold Medal address in September 2023 at the Institution’s headquarters in London and online, where he reflected on his career to date and on the future of engineering.

Williamson-Taylor studied engineering at the University of Bristol and Bradford University from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, while working variously as a site laborer, a chef, a nightclub doorman and an overnight factory worker, in addition to tutoring younger students and mentoring youth offenders.

For many years in parallel, Williamson-Taylor also leveraged a professional Taekwondo career—achieving the elite “fifth-dan master” level and competing globally—to mentor young people from underprivileged backgrounds into higher education. He ran martial arts clubs in London with the specific policy of “no education; no training.”

Today, Williamson-Taylor is integral to AKT II’s outreach with inner-city schools and colleges, alongside the firm’s volunteer STEM Ambassadors who encourage young people from all backgrounds to consider careers in engineering and design. He has also been appointed as the first president of the charity Open City, which aims to make urban design and architecture more accessible to everyone and works to steward young people into the built environment’s design and construction.

Williamson-Taylor is now working—including through his role as a board trustee with the new architecture school, The African Futures Institute—to enable the sharing of technology for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) in Africa.