Hugh Dutton, HDA's founder, qualified as an architect at the Architectural Association in London, after preliminary training at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. In search of complementary technical expertise after early years working with Norman Foster on the Carré d’art in Nimes and Stansted Airport, he found his calling in 1980 when he met Peter Rice, a renowned engineer known for his inventivity, already responsible for the technical design of the Syndey Opera house and Pompidou Center. Rice’s newly formed company, RFR, which included the naval designer Martin Francis and the architect Ian Ritchie, was based in Paris; inspired by the cross-fertilisation between the artistic philosophy of this french city and their own inventive craft heritage, they sought consciously to blur the traditional boundaries between the architectural and engineering cultures within the building professions.
In his rôle as founder of HDA, Hugh Dutton has continued his exploration of design and built reality through collaborations with many well known architects and designers, including Tschumi, Nouvel, Bellini, Ricciotti, Piano, Andreu, Saee, Heatherwick, SOM, Architectonica... Dutton and his team assist them in bringing their concepts to fruition, with a notable attention to detail. The practice has discreetly participated in many well-known European projects such as the Drugstore Publicis glass screens on the Champs Elysées, the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, the glass roof of the Louvre Museum Islamic Arts wing, and the Philharmonie Concert Hall at La Villette in Paris.