Rodger Dalling, former global director at Woods Bagot, recently announced his departure from the firm after 23 years at the helm. 

Dalling first started in the Melbourne office when there were only 22 staff and two computers.

Architecture and Design spoke to him about how technology has changed the industry, the globalisation of architecture, and why China is leading the way in innovation.

During your time in the industry, what project are you most proud of?

I have been with Woods Bagot for 23 years and in the industry for 42 years .The project I am most proud is QSTP Qatar Science and Technology Park (pictured above), which was a country-defining design symbolic of the modern aspirations of Qatar to educate and cater for new industries and promote new industry and alliance setting aspirational goals for the next generation.  

Technology has changed a lot since you first started. What is one way you think it has helped and one way it has been a disadvantage?

Technology change has had the most profound impact on the industry, resulting in the compression of programme delivery, leaving less and less time for design and research needed to drive innovation. 

The major disadvantage to the industry is the loss of status and attribution to the architect as graduates replaced drafting staff and professional graduates took their place and the expectation that salaries were kept low. Benefits to the client have been the reduced cost of design and the shift of accountability to the builder and the use of notation as a separation trusted advisory to sub consultant to the builder.

Architecture is a global industry now. Is there one country you wish you could have worked in?

I have had the advantage of working in the Middle East, China and New Zealand and at a management level in all states of Australia. Beyond this the idea of being part of a major project in New York would be amazing.

How would you define Australia's current approach to architecture? 

The profession is being globalised and is encouraging a tall poppy elsewhere syndrome by inviting internationals as a priority, with local architects more about delivery and not design leadership.

Architecture and design is not a mainstream culture and is undervalued, or at best misunderstood. 

What country do you think is leading the architectural charge in terms of innovation?

Innovation is driven by the challenge of ‘new’ and regeneration. and in the growth in China is where we will see ‘new,’ but the knowledge imbedded in America would suggest both will play a part. 

What has been one of the biggest mistakes you've made that you were able to learn a lot from?  

Architecture is an emotional commitment to your client, both sharing a joint experience that is exciting and challenging. My biggest mistake was doing too much work that was not understood or appreciated by a client due to my poor communication.

What plans do you have now?

Continue to work as a consultant for major projects, especially at the pre-DA stage, and continue to work with the best sub consultants and enjoy the process with quality clients.

Images: Woods Bagot