Well-respected local architect and cofounder of KLH Graham Lambert retires after 34 years

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Graham Lambert

Local architect and founder of KLH retires after setting up the practice alongside Robert Keeble and Alan Howard in 1988.

Graham, who was born and raised in Ipswich, has worked on numerous projects in the town. Some of his highlights include working on healthcare projects at Ipswich Hospital, including cardiac theatres.  One of the more recent projects that he enjoyed working on was the new roof on the New Wolsey.  Graham comments, “It was a great project to work on, although it had its challenges, working around performances and the scorching summer weather.”

Back in 1988 Graham, Robert and Alan had been working together for a local architect when they decided to set up their own practice; KLH Architects.  Graham and Robert had just finished their part 3 qualification, and Alan had qualified as a technician.  They took the risk of not having any clients lined up, but after a couple of lucky breaks, they started to work for Eastern Electricity on the South Coast.  

They secured themselves their first office in Fox’s Marina, where Graham tells us their office desk was initially a “door with three legs”.

Their relationship with local contractor Barnes began when working on a project on the South Coast.  They then secured a job with the NHS which now accounts for 50% of their workload. The practice now employs over 36 people.

Alan Howard KLH Director comments, “We had no clients, no work, no money (Graham and I borrowed money on our mortgages!) to pay the rent and buy some equipment. Not computers and software in those days, we are talking about drawing boards, pens and pencils! How things have changed.  Off we went – we were in our mid to late 20’s, naive but very keen.

We each had our complimentary skills which gelled together to form a pretty awesome team, however, I recall Graham saying after a while, ‘I get what you do (technical detail design), I get what Rob does (Architectural Design/space planning), but what is my specialty, where do I fit in?’

Graham found his true calling not only with sheer hard work, commitment and integrity, but by forming relationships with everybody in the local construction industry – his natural charm and wit drew people to him, and the rest is history. 

Graham cares about people too, really cares, and has been a regular ‘shoulder to cry on’ for many of our staff over the years. He is the first person that people seek out when they have a problem, or need some sound advice.”

Martyn Goodwin KLH Director comments, “Graham is a people person. He offers friendship, support and empathy to all who know him.  He is a caring and community-minded person who has always supported and involved himself in worthy causes.  His home town is Ipswich and his commitment to the community is demonstrated through school governorship, membership of the Borough Heritage advisory panel, the local Design Review panel, the SJCC, cricket, and football team committees, and other charities.”

Robert Keeble KLH Director comments:

“We launched the practice in the information dark ages. Things have changed so much, with everything digital or online. We have Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. I would not go as far to say that Graham was up to speed with any of this. What I can say is that at KLH Graham was our original and number one influencer, who we thank for his integrity, wit and leadership”

Bob Stewards Joint Divisional Managing Director of Barnes Construction comments:

“It is very apt that the L for ‘Lambert’ is in the centre of KLH as I have always considered that Graham represented the heartbeat of the business ensuring that his personal attributes of a caring, hardworking, friendly, conscientious and loyal individual became the culture of the business. Graham has always been at the centre of pushing the business forward with his commitment to business development, networking and a shared desire to invest in youth and training to perpetuate the ethos and longevity of KLH way beyond his tenure.  

We at Barnes are very proud of our long association with KLH and I am lucky to have Graham as a friend and I know being the humble guy that he is that he will look back with immense satisfaction and some amazement on the great business that he Rob and Alan have created and developed.”

Graham is a much-loved and respected member of the construction community and has left a forward-thinking architecture firm.  He has been an integral part of creating change in the industry, employing over 15 women in his practice.

When we asked Graham what one piece of advice he would give to his younger self, he said “be more confident”. Graham plans to use his retirement to spend time with his wife Jill who has been his rock throughout his career, his grown-up children, and to take part in volunteer work.  He wants to give back to the town and community that he loves.