Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

About Simon Lay

Simon co-founded the Olsson Fire & Risk UK business in 2016 to offer clients independent, expert advice. Previously Simon was with AECOM (from January 2012) as their Director of Fire Engineering, and prior, Simon led the growth and development of the Fire Engineering team for WSP for 10 years. His considerable energy, technical expertise and strategic business development has been fundamental to establishing teams as credible providers of fire engineering services on a global scale.

Simon is an experienced, professional engineer with a grounding in the practicalities of on-site delivery coupled with 20 years of experience in the delivering of specialist design consultancy services. Very much more than a fire engineering consultant, Simon is an inspirational leader and an expert in all aspects of building design, able to contribute and represent a multi-discipline consultancy on his own in…


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About Simon Lay

Simon co-founded the Olsson Fire & Risk UK business in 2016 to offer clients independent, expert advice. Previously Simon was with AECOM (from January 2012) as their Director of Fire Engineering, and prior, Simon led the growth and development of the Fire Engineering team for WSP for 10 years. His considerable energy, technical expertise and strategic business development has been fundamental to establishing teams as credible providers of fire engineering services on a global scale.

Simon is an experienced, professional engineer with a grounding in the practicalities of on-site delivery coupled with 20 years of experience in the delivering of specialist design consultancy services. Very much more than a fire engineering consultant, Simon is an inspirational leader and an expert in all aspects of building design, able to contribute and represent a multi-discipline consultancy on his own in complex tender, delivery and problem resolution negotiations.

Having worked on a wide range of complex projects with some of the world’s best known signature architects, Simon is renowned for his problem solving capabilities and an ability to communicate solutions clearly and with empathy to the relevant audience.

Respected as a world leading specialist in Performance Based Fire Safety Design, Simon believes that the need for quality of service, an understanding of the built environment, practical innovation and a client focused mentality are the fundamental to his role in society as an engineer.

Simon has led and contributed to the fire strategy design for a large number of high rise projects including the CTBUH Award winning Beetham Tower in Manchester, The Shard and Strata in London, India Tower in Mumbai, the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai and many others around the world.

Simon is a Chartered Engineer through the Institution of Fire Engineers and registered in Abu Dhabi under the House of Expertise protocol for Fire & Life Safety. For the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Simon is a Steering Group member and a former chair of their Fire & Life Safety Working Party.

A keen road and off-road cyclist, Simon can often be found cruising along a quiet country road, or throwing himself carelessly down a steep rocky mountainside. Having adopted a bicycle as his main form of transport he gave up owning a car in 2010 as a demonstration of his commitment to sustainable design and living.

Prior to developing his career as a Fire & Life Safety specialist, Simon was a Risk Assessment engineer for British Nuclear Fuels limited and a commissioning engineer at Sizewell B nuclear power station (responsible for leading teams on site setting to work components on the primary and secondary reactor systems). Before working at Sizewell, Simon held a research position at the University of Manchester studying the hydrodynamics of submerged bodies and complex airflow regimes over gas turbine engine nacelles.

CTBUH Involvement

  • Expert Peer Review Committee (2014 – Present)
  • CTBUH Fellow (2015)
  • Working Group: Fire Performance of Façades (2017 – Present)
  • Past Roles:
  • Advisory Group (2008 – 2014)
  • Working Group: Fire & Safety, Co-Chair (2011 – 2014)
  • Annual Conference, Presenter (New York 2005; Chicago 2006; Dubai 2008; Mumbai 2010; Shanghai 2014; China 2016; Australia 2017; Middle East 2018)
  • Annual Conference, Session Chair (Kuala Lumpur 2003)
  • Annual Conference, Steering Committee (London 2013)
  • CTBUH Journal, Editorial Board (2008 – 2014)
  • International Research Seed Funding, Peer Review Panel (2012)

Events/Initiatives Involving Simon Lay

2017 Research Seed Funding Results Released

13 Sep 2018, CTBUH Research – The results are now available for the CTBUH 2017 Research Seed Funding…

Future Forty Emerging Technology Hackathon

29 Nov 2017, Event Report – The Manchester Committee of the CTBUH United Kingdom Chapter held the event "Future…

CTBUH Leaders Connect at 2017 Conference

29 Oct 2017, Event Report – The Annual Leaders Meeting was held the day before the start of the CTBUH 2017…

Events/Initiatives Involving Simon Lay

2017 Research Seed Funding Results Released
13 Sep 2018, Chicago – CTBUH Research
The results are now available for the CTBUH 2017 Research Seed Funding program, sponsored by Sun Hung Kai Properties, which centered around façade fires and machine learning.
Future Forty Emerging Technology Hackathon
29 Nov 2017, Manchester – Event Report
The Manchester Committee of the CTBUH United Kingdom Chapter held the event "Future Forty Emerging Technology Hackathon: Creating a Community in Tall Buildings."
CTBUH Leaders Connect at 2017 Conference
29 Oct 2017, Sydney – Event Report
The Annual Leaders Meeting was held the day before the start of the CTBUH 2017 Australia Conference, bringing together the Council’s leaders.
CTBUH UK: Manchester Urban Housing Debate
26 Jul 2017, Manchester – Event Report
CTBUH held its first Manchester event in coordination with the CTBUH UK Chapter in a debate on the development of urban housing in the city.
CTBUH Releases Initial Statement on Grenfell House Fire in London
14 Jun 2017, London – CTBUH-Related News Report
CTBUH Fellow Simon Lay authored an official statement on behalf of the CTBUH regarding the devastating Grenfell House fire that occurred in London on June 14.
Second CAF-CTBUH Event Examines Tall Building Safety
18 May 2017, Chicago – Event Report
The CTBUH, in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), held the second of the four-part “Building Tall” lecture series, this time focused on "Securing Tall."
CTBUH UK & ZHA: Tall Towers as Catalysts for Social Interaction
8 May 2017, London – Event Report
Zaha Hadid Architects and CTBUH UK hosted an event in the ZHA gallery space, featuring presentations and a panel discussion on tall towers as catalysts for social intercation.
CTBUH Height Committee Meeting
7 Nov 2014, Chicago – Event Report
The following topics were addressed: co-joined buildings, criteria for completion, gross-to-net building height, and structural definitions.
Fire & Life Safety Workshop, Shanghai 2014
16 Sep 2014, Shanghai – Event Report
The Fire & Life Safety Working Group hosted a productive technical workshop at the 2014 Shanghai Conference. Below are some highlights from the meeting.
CTBUH Leaders Discuss Ways to Broaden Council Membership
15 Sep 2014, Shanghai – Event Report
The leadership of the Council convened in the Leaders Meeting to participate in discussions about how to widen the Council’s reach and effectiveness.
Heron Tower Technical Tour Report
13 Jun 2013, London – Tour Report
Heron Tower is a world-class office building at the heart of London’s financial district. Stretching 230 meters into the London skyline, the 46-story building is the tallest in the City of London.
Activity at the CTBUH London Conference: Day Two
12 Jun 2013, London – Conference Activity
See the highlights from the second day of the CTBUH 2013 London Conference including The Shard Networking Reception.
Event Focuses on Combining Fire Safety and Sustainability
7-8 Nov 2012, Chicago – Event Report
The CTBUH participated in a symposium to address the complex issues of integrating fire safety design with sustainability.
CTBUH 2010 Annual Leaders Meeting
22 Oct 2010, Chicago – Event Report
Following the CTBUH 9th Annual Awards Dinner & Ceremony, the CTBUH Leadership team met again bright and early on the campus of the IIT in Chicago for their annual Leaders Meeting.
CTBUH 2009 Annual Leaders Meeting
21 Oct 2009, Chicago – Event Report
Preceding the CTBUH 2009 Chicago Conference, 55 leaders within the CTBUH organization gathered to discuss current developments, progress on projects, and new ideas and initiatives.
CTBUH Comments on NIST WTC7 Collapse Report
Oct 2008, Chicago – Conference Video Report
The CTBUH Comments on the “Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7 August 2007” Prepared and Issued by NIST.

See all initiatives involving Simon Lay

Simon Lay Related Resources

CTBUH Fellow Supports “Stay-Put” Rule In Wake of High-Rise Fire

CTBUH Fellow Supports “Stay-Put” Rule In Wake of High-Rise Fire

17 Jun 2017, London – A catastrophic blaze at a London apartment tower has brought new scrutiny to a long-accepted, counter-…

CTBUH Expert Weighs in on Dubai High-Rise Fire

CTBUH Expert Weighs in on Dubai High-Rise Fire

5 Jan 2016, Dubai – Working with all available information, CTBUH Fellow and fire safety expert Simon Lay considers this most…

Read more Global Tall Building News

CTBUH Expands UK Presence with Debate on Urban Housing in Manchester

26 Jul 2017 – Other Videos
Steve Watts, Alinea Consulting; Antony Wood, CTBUH; Matt Hayward, 5Plus Architects; et al.

What's the Biggest Threat to a Skyscraper? (Highlights)

18 May 2017 – Building Tall Skyscraper Lecture Series
Fire Safety: Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk; Structural Engineering: Don Davies, Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Urban Realm: Nicole Dosso, SOM; Architecture: Antony Wood, CTBUH

What's the Biggest Threat to a Skyscraper?

18 May 2017 – Building Tall Skyscraper Lecture Series
Fire Safety: Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk; Structural Engineering: Don Davies, Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Urban Realm: Nicole Dosso, SOM; Architecture: Antony Wood, CTBUH

See all videos

Connecting the City: People, Density & Infrastructure

30 Oct 2017 – CTBUH Journal, 2017 Issue IV
CTBUH 2017 Conference Speakers

Remodel, Recycle or Rebuild? - Addressing the Fire Safety Challenges of Repurposing Skyscrapers

17 Oct 2016 – Cities to Megacities: Shaping Dense Vertical Urbanism
Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk

Debating Tall: Do Cladding Fire Codes & Tests Need Changing?

28 Apr 2016 – CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue II
Phil Barry, CWB Fire Safety Consultants Ltd; Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk UK

See all papers/research

Press/Media Related to Simon Lay

CTBUH Fellow Supports “Stay-Put” Rule In Wake of High-Rise Fire
London, United Kingdom – A catastrophic blaze at a London apartment tower has brought new scrutiny to a long-accepted, counter-intuitive rule for people in tall…
CTBUH Expert Weighs in on Dubai High-Rise Fire
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Working with all available information, CTBUH Fellow and fire safety expert Simon Lay considers this most recent high-rise fire, its causes…

Read more: Global Tall Building News / CTBUH in the Media Articles

Simon Lay Related Videos

CTBUH Expands UK Presence with Debate on Urban Housing in Manchester
26 Jul 2017 – Other Videos; Steve Watts, Alinea Consulting; Antony Wood, CTBUH; Matt Hayward, 5Plus Architects; et al.
On July 26. 2017 the CTBUH held its first Manchester event in coordination with the CTBUH UK Chapter, marking the occasion with a debate on the development of urban housing in the city.
What's the Biggest Threat to a Skyscraper? (Highlights)
18 May 2017 – Building Tall Skyscraper Lecture Series; Fire Safety: Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk; Structural Engineering: Don Davies, Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Urban Realm: Nicole Dosso, SOM; Architecture: Antony Wood, CTBUH
Chicago, United States of America. Hosted in collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the second event in the Building Tall lecture series featured presentations by Simon Lay, Director, Olsson Fire & Risk UK (kind sponsors for the…
What's the Biggest Threat to a Skyscraper?
18 May 2017 – Building Tall Skyscraper Lecture Series; Fire Safety: Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk; Structural Engineering: Don Davies, Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Urban Realm: Nicole Dosso, SOM; Architecture: Antony Wood, CTBUH
Chicago, United States of America. Hosted in collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the second event in the Building Tall lecture series featured presentations by Simon Lay, Director, Olsson Fire & Risk UK (kind sponsors for the…
Solutions for Fire & Life Safety at Extreme Heights
16 Sep 2014 – Presentation at CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference; Simon Lay, AECOM
The world currently only has two “megatall” buildings. However, more are planned and some potential schemes will push beyond “megatall” to “hyper-tall”. As construction technology considers such schemes, how can we ensure that they are safe? This…
2014 Shanghai International Conference - Technical Workshop 05 - Q & A
16 Sep 2014 – Presentation at CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference; Panel Questions & Answers
2014 Shanghai International Conference Technical Workshop 04 Questions & Answers session with speakers Ervin Cui, Aon FPE; Simon Lay, AECOM; Fang Li, RJA Group; Alfredo Ramirez, Underwriters Laboratories; and Russ Timpson, Horizonscan.
Interview: Simon Lay
16 Sep 2014 – 2014 Shanghai Conference Interviews; Simon Lay, AECOM
Simon Lay of AECOM is interviewed by Chris Bentley during the 2014 CTBUH Shanghai Conference at the Jin Mao Tower.
Don’t Be Scared of Performance Based Design
5 Feb 2010 – Presentation at CTBUH 2010 Mumbai Conference; Simon Lay, WSP
A fear of fire is natural, and fire & life safety design is a fundamental constraint on the design of tall buildings. This presentation discusses how the adoption of an alternative, performance based approach can turn fire and life safety design into…
Track 17 Panel Questions and Answers
5 Mar 2008 – Presentation at CTBUH 2008 8th World Congress, Dubai; Robert Solomon, NFPA; Richard Bukowski, NIST; ; Simon Lay, WSP Group; Daniel O'Connor, Schirmer Engineering
The panel of Track 17, Robert Solomon, Richard Bukowski, Simon Lay, and Daniel O'Connor took questions from the CTBUH 8th World Congress audience.
Alternative Evacuation Design Solutions for High Rise Buildings
5 Mar 2008 – Presentation at CTBUH 2008 8th World Congress, Dubai; Simon Lay, WSP
Simon Lay, WSP Group, presented the practicalities of modern high rise evacuation design at the CTBUH 8th World Congress in Dubai. There have been many proposals for novel and innovative evacuation solutions for high rise buildings, particularly…
Fire & Life Safety: Report on Council Working Group Activities
25 Oct 2006 – Presentation at CTBUH 2006 Chicago Conference; Simon Lay, WSP Cantor Seinuk
Simon Lay, WSP Cantor Seinuk presents the Report of the Council Working Group on 'Fire & Life Safety' Activities at the opening session of the CTBUH 2006 Chicago Conference held in Herman Hall Illinois Institute of Technology.

Simon Lay Related Papers/Research

Connecting the City: People, Density & Infrastructure
30 Oct 2017 – CTBUH Journal, 2017 Issue IV; CTBUH 2017 Conference Speakers
The future of humanity on this planet relies on the collective benefits of urban density; reducing both land consumption and the energy needed to construct and operate the horizontally dispersed city. Tall buildings must now be the vehicles for…
Remodel, Recycle or Rebuild? - Addressing the Fire Safety Challenges of Repurposing Skyscrapers
17 Oct 2016 – Cities to Megacities: Shaping Dense Vertical Urbanism; Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk
Some of our established world cities are already facing the challenge of older tall building stock that is no longer relevant to the most commercially attractive uses. One of the biggest challenges faced by any re-purposing of high-rise buildings is…
Debating Tall: Do Cladding Fire Codes & Tests Need Changing?
28 Apr 2016 – CTBUH Journal, 2016 Issue II; Phil Barry, CWB Fire Safety Consultants Ltd; Simon Lay, Olsson Fire & Risk UK
A series of high-profile fires in tall buildings in the Middle East has raised concerns about standards for fire protection in exterior cladding on these buildings. Two fire safety experts weigh in on both sides of the question, “Do cladding fire…
Solutions for Fire & Life Safety at Extreme Heights
Sep 2014 – CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference Proceedings; Simon Lay, AECOM
The world currently only has two “megatall” buildings. However, more are planned and some potential schemes will push beyond “megatall” to “hyper-tall”. As construction technology considers such schemes, how can we ensure that they are safe? This…
Pressurization Systems Don’t Work & Present a Risk to Life Safety: Discuss!
19 Sep 2012 – CTBUH 2012 9th World Congress, Shanghai; Simon Lay, AECOM
This paper considers why some fire safety professionals have become critical of a reliance on pressurization as the dominant form of smoke control in high rise buildings. Design, installation and operational challenges are discussed and alternative…
Alternative Evacuation Design Solutions for High-Rise Buildings
Mar 2008 – CTBUH 2008 8th World Congress, Dubai; Simon Lay, WSP
There have been many proposals for novel and innovative evacuation solutions for high-rise buildings.This paper investigates in detail the role to be played by elevators and stairs in novel evacuation solutions which can deliver safe, efficient…
Fire Engineering the Tallest Building in the Historic City of Manchester, UK
Oct 2004 – CTBUH 2004 Seoul Conference; Dean Kevin McGrail & Simon Francis Lay, WSP Fire Engineering; W.K. Chow, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
This paper addresses the fire engineered design of the means of escape provisions from the residential areas of the New Landmark Beetham Tower in the Historic City of Manchester. When completed the residential tower will be the tallest residential…