The studio was commissioned to illustrate many well known and iconic London buildings before they were built or extended, including the London Eye, the Tate Modern, the Millennium Dome (now the O2), the Royal Academy, the Royal Festival Hall and the British Museum. The RIBA collected works by the studio in 2002 for the RIBA drawings collection; some of these images are exhibited in the Architectural galleries of the V&A.
Journalists and clients would often ask about “Hayes”, but Alan liked to keep them guessing. He referred to him as “Bob Hayes” but he was always conspicuous by his absence. Bob Hayes even won a significant award. Alan finally stopped the cat and mouse game around 2002 when he revealed that Hayes was his middle name.
Recognised as experts in the visualisation of architecture and the built environment, the studio gained a reputation for collaborating with many of the world’s top architects and designers, including Kengo Kuma, Jean Nouvel and Thomas Heatherwick on projects located around the globe. Alan developed close friendships with many of his clients including Simon Smithson and Mike Davis of RSHP, Thomas Heatherwick and David Marks of Marks Barfield whilst collaborating on the London Eye.
Since 2000 the studio has continued to develop its CG based visualisation techniques and by 2015 had produced over 20,000 ‘virtual’ or CGI images since it was founded. It celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014.
Alan was keen that the studio published its work; by the time of his death, 4 books had been published. In each book, he insisted on thanking all artists past and present as he believed it was collaborative effort which together had produced the work.
Alan was closely involved in all aspects of the studio; from art directing to designing online systems. He was a prolific worker, sometimes in the early days working continuously for days without sleep, and believed like Noel Coward that “work is more fun than fun”.
Ironically, and despite the success of the studio, in the eyes of many clients it was Alan’s ability to think and draw in 3D that was of greatest interest, and indeed fascination. Alan could look at a new set of drawings / blueprints, and within an hour sketch a whole number of ideas about the building in full 3D.
He was passionate about London and studied the physiology and psychology of seeing the city; leading to him appearing as an expert witness at public inquiries of major London developments. He rejected what he felt was the pseudo-science of the official London guidelines for the placement of large or tall buildings, instead proposing a human-centric approach based on an understanding of how we actually see, and notice, built form.
Alan was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2012. He led the move to employee ownership in 2015, a highly successful transition, and the studio continues to flourish. The Studio operates under a distributed management system. After his diagnosis, Alan started to take a back seat role. The studio celebrates its 30th year in 2019 making it the longest running Architectural Visualisation studio in the UK, and further afield.