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    Architecture is a game of strategy and innovation: Rebecca Moore of CGRAMW [PROFILE]

    Stephanie McDonald

    Rebecca Moore is a director and owner of Conrad Gargett Riddel Ancher Mortlock Woolley (CGRAMW), a 124 year-old Queensland based architectural company.

    Her portfolio includes health, education and senior living sectors.

    Architecture & Design spoke to her about why she enjoys stakeholder engagement, how she handles difficult situations in the process and why believing in yourself can help your career. 

    You've worked on a broad range of projects. What is your favourite and why?

    I was involved in the design and master planning for Conrad Gargett Lyons on the Queensland Children's Hospital project, which will be completed in mid 2014. It involved a very intense collaborative design and planning process where I then led the delivery of the major infrastructure and early work projects to enable the hospital's construction.

    The Queensland Children's Hospital is sited in a very urban context that neighbours a fully functioning tertiary private hospital and two significant private schools in South Brisbane. To enable the freeing up of development land, new auxiliary infrastructure was required to maintain the existing private hospital's functionality and accessibility.  The master planned process resulted in complex 'land swaps' between the two inner-city schools, a major Queensland private healthcare provider and the state government; there was also one or two privately owned houses that were in the mix. The resulting project(s) were delivered in the space of about four years.

    This 'greater' project is one of my most memorable and challenging, but it is the team work and collaboration that was required to navigate numerous stakeholders and approval hurdles that made these projects stand out to me.

    You have a particular interest in stakeholder engagement. What interests you?

    I bounce out of bed each day with the knowledge that I influence and create places for people. Conrad Gargett Riddel Ancher Mortlock Woolley specialises in complex institutional project types that often deal with individuals in situations of pressure – whether it be in rotation from combat, undergoing major surgery, or training for either.  It is the knowledge that every day I influence, for the better, one's perception of the place that surrounds them.

    Therefore the interaction and understanding I glean from stakeholder engagement is intriguing and tells me more about a project brief than any document can. The more complex the network of stakeholders involved, the more I enjoy the process and it is often the political sensibility that goes hand-in-hand with stakeholder engagement that is really the most interesting factor for me. 

    What are some of your solutions when you face difficult situations in the stakeholder engagement process?

    Part of effective stakeholder engagement is being prepared for resistance. I enjoy listening to others and through that, gaining an understanding of the various points of views. This process is vital to ensuring positive project outcomes. I like to get to the bottom of an issue and understand what is driving the situation and why certain stakeholders may feel a certain way. We then like to consider alternative options that best satisfy the needs of stakeholders whilst staying true to the design vision.

    What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you, whether that be professionally or personally?

    A relative advised me upon graduating from university: confidently believe in yourself and the decisions you make. I had a fantastic opportunity at a young age to become an owner and director of Conrad Gargett Architecture. I would not have found myself in this position nor taken on such a massive commitment had I not had faith in myself.

    If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

    I have great confidence in the design and construction industry. My peers will attest to my frequent analogy that practicing architecture is like a game that I play everyday. It’s a game of strategy and innovation, of beauty and pain, but above all it's a game that challenges and invigorates my mind and spirit. If I had to change one thing about the construction industry I would encourage aspiring designers to see the profession in a similar way – to develop techniques and strategies to navigate the design process in order to influence key principles and drivers within projects.

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