Australian Construction Focus - January Edition

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January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Editor’s Pick


he New Year has only begun, and already 2011 will be remembered for the devastating floods that have swept across Australia, causing billions of dollars in damage. All industries – from construction to farming, mining to tourism – have been severely affected, as the nation struggles to cope with the short and long-term affects of the unrelenting rainfall. Hundreds of thousands of residents have suffered as the worst flooding in decades has turned many towns into virtual islands, surrounded by brackish water, destroying crops, damaging houses, and cutting entire areas off from roads. There are already warnings of possible “flood inflation,” as the cost of rebuilding severely damaged areas is driving up building prices in many other sectors of the economy. The actual cost of the destruction and the eventual repairs and rebuilding, will not be known for months, if not longer. Basic economic principles of supply and demand will see prices rise as the nation enters the rebuilding phase. In commodity-rich Queensland alone, recent estimates peg the damage at well over $5 billion, and the risk of additional rainfall will only serve to worsen the situation.

Situated in an area that began to take shape more than 300 million years ago, the strikingly beautiful Blue Mountains Region is home to the Everglades Historic House and Gardens. Surrounded by panoramic views of Jamison Valley, Mount Solitary and Gordon Falls, the heritage-listed Everglades House is featured in this month’s history section. Restored to its former glory, the house and manicured gardens remains the vision of a wealthy Brussels-born industrialist, who left a legacy for future generations to enjoy. One of the best-known architects of his time, Frank Gehry is going strong at age 81, continuing to create designs unlike any other architect past or present. In our feature “An Icon Comes to Town,” we discuss details of one of Gehry’s recently unveiled designs, a unique concept for the University of Technology Sydney’s new Faculty of Business.

A number of questions are already being raised: will there be enough skilled workers available to carry out repairs and new construction projects? Who will pay for the critical work? Already several major insurance companies trading on the Australian Securities Exchange have seen their stock prices tumble as wary investors are pulling out their funds in anticipation of inevitable claims. Construction will not be the only sector affected by the floods. Many mining operations have been halted as Queensland – which supplies about half of the world’s supply of coking coal – remains unable to produce the necessary fuel used for steel production due to mine flooding. Already prices for coal are on the increase, and economists predict the price will keep rising. Other resource sectors and construction are feeling the effects, as wet weather has slowed or stopped residential and civil construction projects, leaving many of them weeks, even months, behind schedule. To add to the slowdown, The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) cautions that the floods, - combined with the results of the Federal Government’s stimulus funding coming to an end - will adversely affect the residential building sector, particularly in Queensland. The shift is already being felt, as private sector housing approvals in southeast Queensland are down, which could lead to job losses. There may be a silver lining in all the devastation, as the nation will require a great deal of restoration work when the floods subside, as homeowners repair their dwellings and replace damaged items. Whether the short-term negative effects of the damage will be surpassed by the potential long-term economic benefits of rebuilding and repairing the country will have to wait until the flood waters subside.

Robert J. Hoshowsky Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Robert Hoshowsky Managing Editor


Kulvir Singh Creative Art Director Robert Chambers Director of Business Dev. Lorne Moffat Head of Research Rob Lenehan Research Manager Tim Hocken Production Editor

National Buildplan Group

Christian Cooper Director of Operations Contributing Writers Aleisha Parr Jaime McKee Jen Hamilton John Boley Melissa Thompson Jeff Hocken Publisher 8th Floor, 55 Hunter St Sydney NSW 2000 GPO Box 4836, Sydney NSW 2001 Phone: 02 8412 8119 ABN 93 143 238 126

06 News and Events 14 FDC

Diversifying For Success

20 A Garden Getaway

Everglades Historic House and Gardens

26 National Buildplan Gro

Passionate People Achieving Extraordina

36 Marchese Partners

Designing The Future

42 Conrina Constructions

The Future is Brick

48 An Icon Comes to Tow A Look at Gehry’s Concept Design for UT


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus



ary Results



Maras Group


54 Maras Group

Building Adelaide’s Future

64 Gosford Quarries

The Natural Artistry of a Million Years

70 Cardno ITC

The Complete Solution

76 Beating the Big Bad Wolf

The Success of Straw Bale Construction

82 May Constructions

True Craftsmanship

Everglades Historic House and Gardens


wn TS Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Insulation Woes for SA Homeowners


fter signing up for a program from the Federal Government to insulate their dwellings, thousands of houses in South Australia are at risk because of poorly installed insulation. Approximately 12,000 out of the 38,000 SA homeowners who elected to be part of the home-insulation program are at risk from the insulation. Improperly installed by unlicensed workers, the homes are in danger of damage from fire and electricity. Sadly, the substandard work has already been tied to four deaths and 200 fires across the nation, with fears about other potential disasters in the waiting. In total, 38,802 South Australian households took


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

part in the initiative, which was geared towards boosting the economy and assisting homeowners with their household energy bills. There are a number of problems associated with the improper work, including the risk of insulation in areas where it could ignite, companies selling insulation that are no longer in business, and other businesses refusing to provide licence numbers. To make matters worse, some homeowners may be left uninsured if it is discovered that their houses were improperly insulated by unlicensed workers, with the Housing Industry Association (HIA) suggesting homeowners re-read their insurance policies to determine what their rights are.

Cracking Up

New Life for FireRavaged Church


ack in 2006, a midnight fire that ravaged St Mary’s Catholic Church at Adaminaby left many parishioners uncertain about the fate of their beloved house of worship. Today, four years after the inferno, the Adaminaby Church is set to literally rise from the ashes and begin life anew.


s every driver knows, cracks and chips in windshields are not only unsightly, they are dangerous. Windshields protect us from elements like wind and rain, and even act to support the structure of the roof and frame of your vehicle in case of an accident. Smooth, new roads and highways are supposed to reduce the risk of windshield damage, yet motorists on the recently-opened $110 million Tiger Brennan Drive extension are irate over damage to their windscreens. Constructed to reduce travelling times between Darwin and Palmerston, the recently opened extension has been blamed for stones being kicked up by vehicles and damaging windshields. While loose rocks and stones are not unusual on new roadways, the number of vehicles that have been damaged is so significant that a dedicated phone line for complaints has been established, at 1800 110 243. Drivers who have sustained damage to their windshields are advised to contact the Department of Construction. Although officials assert that the road should not be causing damage, there is no word yet about any possible compensation for windshield repair or replacement, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Located in the Snowy Mountains between New South Wales and Victoria, the loss of St Mary’s Catholic Church was devastating to many church-goers at the time. Although a rebuilding committee was established, meetings were held, and insurance money came through, the fate of the original structure remained uncertain. It was soon determined by investigators that the damage to the church’s interior and roof was so severe that the remaining walls had to be knocked down. To be rebuilt, the Archbishop wanted some assurance of church attendance, which at one point was at an all-time low of six people. It was not the first hurdle faced by the historic structure. Originally constructed at Old Adaminaby in 1911, St Mary’s Catholic Church was moved years later in 1957, when the town was engulfed by water. Now, almost four years after being destroyed, the new church will open in a few weeks. Construction is complete, and finishing touches are being put on the structure, which cost over $500,000 to rebuild. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Wet Weather Woes for Home Builders


eavy rains in Queensland have slowed construction to a crawl, and have cost the construction sector about $500 million in lost productivity, according to The Master Builders Association. As a result of the foul weather, many projects are running far behind schedule, leading to additional frustration for beleaguered builders trying to cope with the economic downturn of the past few years. Many clients who anticipated projects to be completed before Christmas had their hopes dashed due to the weather, which has affected not only the residential sector, but commercial and civil construction. The traditional threeweek long Christmas break has also meant delays for many in the building sector.

In a number of cases, builders are also paying exorbitant interest charges due to the delays. Some have been unable to pay their employees, while families – hoping to move into new homes or have renovations completed in existing homes on time – have been forced to find other places to live until the work is completed. This spring has been the wettest in almost 40 years, and the trickle-down effect has already affected other sectors of the economy, including tradespeople and material suppliers. Indoor construction has also been affected, as there are issues of hygiene that arise from tracking wet shoes and equipment in and out of homes, and matters regarding occupational health and safety.

Controversial Bypass Site


he levee site at Brighton, north of Hobart, is the site of a hotly contested concrete bridge bypass involving Aboriginal protesters, environmentalists, and the government. Many Aboriginals are opposing construction of the Brighton Bypass – a disputed heritage site – which lies directly in the road’s path.

Although bridge construction at the $176 million Brighton Bypass project was set to start soon, an archaeological survey has uncovered a number of artifacts that may be up to 40,000 years old, making it a site many feel should be protected. By some estimates, the area contains approximately three mil-


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

lion indigenous artifacts.

One object found during an excavation could be t oldest surviving evidence of human habitation in t southern hemisphere. Federal Environment Min ter Tony Burke put an emergency heritage listing the levee, and protesters from Tasmania’s Aborigi community have occupied the site and set up cam in an effort to protect it from destruction. They b lieve the area provides not only a tangible link b tween Tasmanian Aborigines and their ancestors, b that it is a culturally important area for future ge erations. For Tasmanian Aborigines, the interventi

Plans Underway for New Gas-Fired Power Station


n northwest Queensland, preliminary planning is underway for a gas-fired power station in the Mount Isa region.

Under Review

the the nison inal mps bebebut ention

on the part of the Federal Government is good news, as the emergency heritage listing has been a boost to their campaign to protect the artifact-rich area. The story is far from over, as The Commonwealth will assess the situation, and determine later this year if the site requires permanent protection. One professor from the University of Western Australia recently said that building a bridge over the site was akin to erecting a bridge over Stonehenge, the fabled prehistoric monument north of Salisbury in southwestern England that dates from the late Stone and early Bronze ages.

The project is under the auspices of the APA Group. Australia’s biggest natural gas infrastructure, APA owns the Carpentaria gas pipeline, which transports gas to the Mount Isa complex. Its intent is to build a gas-fired station that will produce up to 240 megawatts, and deliver reliable, competitively-priced energy to major users in the area. One of the larger customers would be Xstrata Plc, a big energy consumer, the world’s fourth largest copper producer, and owner of the Mount Isa complex. Additionally, Xstrata comprises mines and smelting operations that produce zinc and lead along with copper. At this time, APA is one of three companies involved in discussions with Xstrata. The power station is expected to be approved by May of this year, with construction of the first phase expected to take approximately two years. The proposal is dependent upon APA reaching an agreement with its customers. If the project gets the green light, each stage is expected to have a capacity of up to 120 megawatts. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Future of Lighting Summit February 8-10 CQ Functions, Melbourne, VIC Attendees of the summit will not only learn about new lighting technologies and controls, they will also learn how to effectively incorporate the right lighting into their architectural design. Experts review regulations and standards, techniques to balance natural and artificial light, energy efficiency solutions, futureproofing lighting through innovative design, choosing a lighting control system and much more. There will be an interactive panel to discuss the many roles of lighting in the CBD and three informational workshops headed by industry leaders. For more information visit:

Heavy Lift and Transport Australia February 8-9 Novotel Langley, Perth, WA Set to be Australia’s first modular construction planning and implementation conference, this event will explain how to overcome limitations and ensure smooth delivery of large scale modular projects. A list of experienced logistics professionals will share their knowledge of reducing quarantine wait times, facilitating clear communication throughout the supply chain, innovations in modularisation and avoiding project over-runs. Overviews of the Wood River Project USA and a large Pilbara resource project will provide real-world insight into module transport and logistics. For more information visit:

9th Australasian Masonry Conference February 15-18 Millenium Hotel, Queenstown, NZ During this 4 day event a wide range of masonry related topics will be covered including innovation, research and testing, sustainability, restoration and refurbishment, and structural design. The keynote speakers include Nigel Howard, founder of Edge Environment, and Dr. Guido Magenes, Associate Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Pavia, Italy. Along with the comprehensive technical programme, an exciting social programme is planned with ample opportunity for networking and even some outdoor adventure. For more information visit:


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

12th Annual National Workers Compensation Summit February 21-22 Palazzo Versace, Surfer’s Paradise, QLD A thorough knowledge of worker’s compensation practice is necessary in almost every industry. The National Worker’s Compensation Summit provides solutions and answers questions regarding the most up-to-date legislation and allows a choice of four specialist stream sessions to ensure delegates obtain the information most relevant to their fields. The new Work Health and Safety Act is in effect as of January 1, 2011, and the summit will present an overview of the harmonisation laws and their impacts and cover a range of other topics. For more information visit:

The 3rd Annual Urban Transport World February 22-24 Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, NSW With a continuously increasing population comes an increasing demand for reduced traffic congestion and more efficient urban transport infrastructure. Urban Transport World will cover strategies for planning and developing these more efficient and profitable transport networks. Days one and two of the conference will cover topics such as transport policy, sustainability, finance and investment. Day three gives delegates an opportunity to choose from Urban Rail, Ausroads, or Smart Transport sessions to obtain the knowledge most relevant to their interests. For more information visit:

Australian Construction Equipment Expo February 24-26 Sandown Racecourse, Melbourne, VIC Whether attending as an exhibitor or a visitor, there will be something for everyone at ACE 2011. Compare the latest products and equipment, discover new technology, exchange ideas and information, make new business contacts, promote your business and have fun. Decision makers from every aspect of the industry will be in attendance to view an incredible amount of exhibitions. Special attractions include an Earthmoving Demonstration area where operators can try earthmoving equipment before they buy and a CMEIG VIP industry luncheon. For more information visit:

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


-By John Boley


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus


DC Construction & Fitout was established in February 1990 as FDC Building Services. The company initially focused on the design and construction of high-tech installations and communications facilities.

Realising potential outside of this specialised niche and acknowledging the fundamental integration of technology to most contemporary construction and fitout projects, FDC embarked on strategic expansion into the commercial fitout and building refurbishment market. FDC now operates as three divisions:

FDC Construction & Fitout provides a comprehensive service from concept to completion. In the capacity of construction manager, head contractor or design and construct leader, FDC provides a multi-disciplinary approach to the process of building, leveraging extensive buildability experience and a proactive attitude to deliver innovative and outstanding results. The construction portfolio includes greenfield and redeveloped buildings for commercial, industrial, technology, telecommunication, education, health, science, hospitality, retail and speAustralian Construction Focus | January 2011


cialised use. By engaging with its other divisions, the FDC Group becomes a convenient, efficient ‘one stop shop’. FDC Fitout has a reputation based on cooperation, reliability and performance, with scores of successful projects across the eastern seaboard. Upon a project’s completion, FDC offers postoccupancy services such as maintenance and churn management. The Interior Fitout portfolio includes both large scale and boutique fitouts for corporate offices, hi-tech sites, education, science, health, biotech, hospitality and specialised use. FDC Technologies provides a diverse service covering the design, supply, installation and servicing of innovative voice, data, power, lighting security services and air handling requirements.


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

The FDC team ensures close liaison with engineering consultants, client’s IT managers and the builder, prior to and during the works, to ensure streamlined integration, testing and commissioning. Projects include anything from the most sophisticated data centres in Australia to basic warehousing projects, large scale corporate offices to highly technical, high security facilities. FDC can work in conjunction with FDC Mechanical to provide an integrated, multi-services package to any construction or fitout project. FDC Mechanical Services is a specialist group, adding valuable input to all projects and allowing a turnkey solution where feasible. The group has a large portfolio of technical achievements across data centres, office workspaces, indus-

trial and retail centres. At present, Mechanical Services has more than 200 employees and a turnover in excess of $340 million per year with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The company says it is pragmatic in its approach to sustainability and understands that environmental initiatives need to be balanced with commercial feasibility. FDC works with the project team, if so empowered, to develop the design intelligently, seek innovations, source the latest technologies and determine the best way to build, which helps to find that balance. FDC has led or participated in a range of projects with formal GreenStar and/or NABERS ratings, plus others which have achieved “best practice�

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

sumables, energy, water and fossil fuels. Single use products are discouraged and recycling is rewarded.

for the respective client. FDC’s experience in such projects includes CSR, ING, RTA Parramatta, RTA North Sydney, BRI, 50 Pitt Street, AMP, Sydney Ports Authority, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Medtronic, 255 Elizabeth Street, Boehringer Ingelheim, Rondo, Viridian, CSC Docklands, PMA and Aegis Media. In addition, FDC has received MBA environmental recognition with prestigious awards for “Resource Efficiency” and “Best use of Timber” for the Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club development.

Company management also aim for a positive working environment, encouraging collaborative relationships with all team members. FDC is ‘non-contractual’ and ‘non-adversarial’ in its approach, preferring to work with all team members in the management of risk and execution of diligent processes on each project and to focus on finding solutions rather than problems. FDC is equally capable of responding to a pre-existing design or taking full design and construction responsibility. The cornerstone of FDC’s success, according to the company itself, is its focus on client loyalty. A majority of clients have engaged FDC on numerous occasions, validating its mission statement that “the more we contribute to your success, the more we contribute to our own”.

The company’s own offices in Sydney reflect its commitment to promoting sustainable workplaces. An historic warehouse space was transformed into contemporary offices, prudently but intelligently, with a host of environmental initiatives positively influencing services and energy consumption, plus sensitive selection of products and finishes. The company encourages sound environmental practices on site and in office operations, covering the use of office conAustralian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

By Jen Hamilton

Every issue, Australian Construction Focus profiles a structure of unique historical, cultural, or environmental significance. This month, we take a closer look at Everglades Historic House and Gardens, Leura, NSW.


ocated within the wondrous Blue Mountains bushland, Everglades is a beautifully landscaped garden surrounded by amazing views of Jamison Valley, Mount Solitary and Gordon Falls. The heritage listed Everglades house sits at a central spot bordered by the exotic gardens as they fade into the natural bushland. These admired architectural works have been restored to resemble their early beauty and will from now on be conserved for us to visit and marvel.

Henri Van de Velde, a Brussels born industrialist was the man behind the idea of Everglades Garden. He began making his fortune during World War I, supplying woollen blankets to the army from Brisbane. During the 1930s it became highly fashionable for wealthy landowners to create elaborate garden getaways. Van de Velde was to be no exception and purchased 13 acres of land, already referred to as Everglades. This land had been devastated by fire in 1910 but had great potential as a site on which to bring Van de Velde’s vision to life. The architect responsible for the original garden design was Danish horticulturalist, Paul Sorensen. He had created many of the gardens in the area and Henri Van de Velde trusted him with the task of reinvigorating and reinventing Everglades. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


The site at Everglades is characteristic of the Blue Mountains Region which began to take shape more than 300 million years ago when rivers deposited large quantities of sediment in layers. These layers formed shale beds which were later buried under sand sediments, becoming sandstone. Moving forces within the earth bent and shattered the land, creating a diverse and varied topography. Similarly, Everglades is rocky, with layers of sandstone and ironstone, and characterized by sheer rock faces and a steeply sloping gradient. A tremendous amount of work was required of Sorensento transform Everglades into the graceful space that it is today. As no heavy machinery


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

was available at the time, Sorensen hired labourers to hand excavate the land and build a series of levelled terraces and a manmade grotto. Excavation was also used to remove thin sandy soils in order to plant in the more fertile soils below. The wall above the Gordon Falls and the walls along the terraces were built with ironstone fragments that were discovered and sorted during excavation. The series of terraces drop level by level down a slope beyond the formal lawn. Each has its own unique character and is named according to its individual features. Cherry Terrace is lined with a row of Japanese cherry trees which bloom soft pink flowers in spring. Lilac Terrace is known for

its gorgeous lilac shrubs and the stone path leading through Agapanthus Terrace is, of course, lined with agapanthus flowers as well as bay trees and Japanese maple. Studio Terrace, the largest, was designed simply and included a long lawn for recreation, a rectangular swimming pool and once contained an ancient eucalypt. Since this time, the swimming pool has been lined in black to become an elegant reflecting pool. As the southern end of studio terrace is approached an outdoor garden theatre comes into view. Here Sorensen used the arched sandstone entrance from the London Chartered Bank of Australia built by architect J.F. Hilley. The bank was demolished in 1938 and replaced by Van de

Velde’s company headquarters. Sorensen saw use for the artistically detailed arch as the setting for the Garden Theatre stage, he had it shipped and reconstructed, and it has since become the well-known backdrop for many events, weddings, and community performances. The formal terraces and lawns eventually meet the natural bushland, where more casual pathways lead to a lookout over the Jamison valley and Gordon Falls. Ironstone was again used to construct a short, curving wall along the valley’s edge. From here, a path reconstructed by the National Trust leads to the Grotto pool. The serene pool, fed by a trickling waterfall, appears completely natural in its setting, surrounded by

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


ferns and rugged rock outcrops. On the contrary, Sorensen had this area excavated and redirected the above watercourse to form this breathtaking feature. Another path can be followed up to the driveway and to Everglades House. During construction this driveway proved to be a bit of a problem. The land slopes steeply from the front entrance to the location of the house. The driveway had to be routed along the edge of the site and from there sweeps around to the rear of the house and into the two garages. The three floor house, built during the mid 1930s, can be entered through the garage, by means of a winding staircase detailed with a bold wrought iron railing, or through the walk up entrance


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

passed the terraces and through the courtyard. There is some dispute over who designed Everglades house, whether it was Paul Sorensen or the architect who designed Van de Velde’s company headquarters, but it was constructed by a local builder. Art Deco styling, modern for the time, is exhibited throughout the more important living and bedrooms by detailed embellishments around archways and mirrors, and along decorative mouldings. Less important rooms are much more minimalist in dÊcor. Large, steel framed windows allow for views of the beautiful surroundings and plenty of natural light to the interior. The exterior of the house is finished in Mediterranean style

has been working to restore the aging structures. With funding from donations and government grants they have been able to replace the carpet and repaint the interiors to match the original 1930s dĂŠcor. Safety has been improved by the repair and modification of railings and ramps, as well as grading and restructuring of footpaths. A recirculation system was installed to prevent the watercourse from drying up and ensure continuous flow into the Grotto Pool. The National Trust Bushcare Program utilizes the aid of volunteers to weed out aggressive plants and conserve the natural bushland. A beautiful, complex property such as Everglades requires considerable care and maintenance, both inside and out. The unique landscape of this heritage estate has endured since the 1930s and with luck and a little help it will retain its beauty far into the future.

stucco and carries a terra cotta roof. Piano company, Beale & Co. built the doors and some furniture, although most of the original furniture has long since disappeared. A surprising feature of the house is the set of two large, extravagant bathrooms, a display of Van de Velde’s wealth. Imported tiles in rich autumn colours with dark accents adorn his private bathroom. Natural light floods in through several rectangular windows, including one over the large steam bath. The guest bathroom is also tiled from floor, almost to ceiling, but more subdued brown and golden colours are used. In the centre of the room is a spacious octagonal bath. Since the National Trust acquired the property it Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Cementing its entry into Western Australia and the Northern Territory through its latest expansion strategy, National Buildplan Group is celebrating its listing as #95 in Cordell’s Top 100 Largest Commercial Construction Companies for 2009-2010. “What is important about the top 100 is not the list, it is the challenges, standards and expectations,” reports Bill Wheeler in his recent Buildplan Bulletin CEO Report, “it is all the small achievements and processes that combine to allow us to operate on the field with our peers. The recent demonstration of the effectiveness of co-operation and teamwork is plainly evident by the performance displayed in estimating and marketing across the states that resulted in more than $28m of tenders won in the last 6 weeks. The quality of the submissions, alternatives and presentations has been outstanding. It is immensely satisfying to see the results of great teams working together and striving to represent and promote the company in the best possible way.” The dedication, passion and expertise of the teams at work for Buildplan have helped boost the company’s strong reputation – resulting in four prestigious MBA awards over the last two years. In its company

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


profile, Buildplan emphasises its commitment to building “true relationships”, developing teams of enthusiastic professionals and consistently exceeding expected levels of service. “True relationships”, as defined by Buildplan, are developed and maintained through understanding, commitment, integrity, communication and performance. Buildplan believes that strong internal relationships create rewarding operating environments, thereby ensuring that true relationships are developed with each client, service provider or supplier. This, in turn, provides a framework for efficient procurement, construction and maintenance of projects across all sectors. Says Corporate Services Manager, Michael Rayment, “attention to planning and implementation have resulted not only in superior outcomes for the client and the company but have

also provided a greater sense of satisfaction and achievement for the Buildplan staff involved.” Indeed, the Buildplan staff members have many supports in place through the company, including structured training, rewarding career paths and an environment conducive to ensuring that they feel appreciated and are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In a recent interview, Bill Wheeler stated his feelings that “the company’s purpose [is] to provide a suitable return in relation to risk and capital invested; it has a responsibility to provide a pleasant, challenging but rewarding environment for company employees, opportunity for individual growth, and to be a responsible contributor to the communities in which we work and live.” As a nationally prominent construction company operating within the residential, civil, mining,

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January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

commercial, industrial and infrastructure sectors, Buildplan draws on the passion and experience of its staff to ensure that every project is given due attention to achieve successful completion. To this end, Buildplan maintains that each and every project undertaken by its team is done so not only because it is able to ensure the team has the relevant expertise to complete the job, but additionally, that it is a project which the team – and company as a whole - is passionate about. This level of passion – and its high quality results - can be seen in Buildplan’s recent work on the new MBA Award-winning Lismore Integrated Cancer Care Centre, worth $17m. Buildplan was appointed in November 2008 to design and construct the four level 4500m2 North Coast Cancer Institute (NCCI) Lismore Cancer Care and Haematology Unit within the existing grounds

of the Lismore Base Hospital. Not only did this project provide Buildplan with the opportunity to develop innovative construction processes (such as the construction of concrete walls up to 2.4m thick to provide radiation shielding from the linear accelerator), but it also allowed the company to assist in ensuring the delivery of increased health services to the Northern Rivers communities and its surrounding regions. “Recent feedback from Kevin Plummer (DOC) in relation to the Lismore Hospital was that in his time with the Commerce it was one of the best quality buildings he had received,” boasts Mr Wheeler. “The handover process and the assistance given to the client during the initial phases of their occupation was impressive.” The new building, using stunning high-end finishes, provides a relaxed, non-clinical experi-

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


The Australian Equine, Livestock and Events Centre Winner of the “fiercely competitive” MBA 2009 Award for a Sporting Facility, $10,000,001 - $50,000,000, this $28m project exceeds 24,000m2, including the main area, selling ring, stables, TAFE complex, camp draft arena, cattle handling facilities, showrings and parking for more than 200 trucks. The innovative Buildplan team developed a post tensioned clear span truss system, single length site rolled roofing to 74m and extensive precast structural elements to provide design freedom to produce large free span spaces. The project’s success was greatly assisted by the implementation of the “Last Planner” concept developed by Evans and Peck, a program designed to coordinate programming and performance throughout the last three months of project delivery.

Quick Facts Site area - 17 Hectares Bulk Earthworks - 85,000m3 Building Footprint - exceeding 24,000m2 Stables Under Cover - 486 Longest Roof Sheet - 74m Height of Main Arena - 19m Parking for 200 trucks

Project Management Construction Manager: Luke Gerathy Project Manager: John Burton Site Project Manager: Tony Wealand Total Project Value: $31m Design : Timothy Court Architects


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

ence for both patients and staff with the creation of an innovative Atrium in the centre of the building, allowing a wash of natural light. At the same time, the building’s exterior design was developed with a mind to integrate it into the pre-existing surroundings. As with many modern hospital designs, Buildplan employed such techniques as texture coated concrete, alucobond and vitrepanel pre-finished cladding, extensive glazing, sun shading, and glazed and face brickwork. “Results, awards and testimonials like those we received for Lismore and Coffs Harbour is why we keep doing it” remarks Bill Wheeler in his CEO report, “sometimes we need to reflect on our achievements and look at the progress we are making whilst competing in an extremely competitive market.” With over twenty years of industry experience across a broad array of con-

struction sectors throughout Australia, National Buildplan Group has demonstrated the necessary drive and expertise required to continue growth across the Asia Pacific region. Buildplan’s presence across NSW includes its head office in North Sydney, with four satellite offices strategically located in growth corridors to enable the company to service all sectors. Additionally, Buildplan has offices in the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane in QLD, and has established itself as a premier construction company within the region. Pre-qualification as an NSW Department of Commerce Best Practice Contractor and a QLD Level 3 Pre-Qualified Contractor have helped provide Builplan with a platform from which it based its recently successful expansion into Western Australia. As Western Australia continues to offer

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


enormous opportunity within the resource sector, Buildplan works to capitalise on its current staff experience within the resource sectors and the provision of infrastructure and support services. Buildplan’s natural growth into Western Australia and Northern Territory has served to ensure the diverse company’s success in achieving recognition as a nationally relevant construction company. Boasts the Buildplan website, “Our success is based on continually providing quality outcomes on behalf of our clients across a range of construction sectors.” With the increased appetite of international markets for Australia’s natural resources, and the emergence of Asia Pacific economies, Buildplan’s entry into the resource sector is considered timely. “We are passionate about continuous improvement, being first to market with innovation, and the development of a company


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Coffs Harbour Education Campus, Automotive Training Facility Winner of the MBA 2010 Award for an Educational Building, $0 - $5,000,000, this new 1740m2 building within the existing grounds of the Coffs Harbour Education Campus was built on a greenfield site, with a deep cut and high level core filled loc-a-bloc retaining wall utilised to retain the existing earth structure. The modern design included extensive use of structured steel and metal cladding internally and externally, with hard wearing, maintenance free finishes to extend the life of the building. State of the art equipment consisting of electronic fuel systems, carbon monoxide exhaust systems, high performance engine, brake and chassis dynos and including a number of vehicle hoists ensures a modern learning environment.

that is nationally relevant . . .” As National Buildplan Group continues its growth across the region, it leaves in its wake a series of exceptional builds and very happy clients – clearly the result of passionate people working on meaningful projects. Concludes Bill Wheeler, in his CEO report closing remarks, “As we continue our journey I will be encouraging the Executive to review our performance not only in relation to financial issues, but also to consolidate the recent discussion that will continue to improve our working environment and our contribution to our communities in which we work and live.”

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



any architectural and design firms produce quality work, but the ability to continually create unique projects – and provide valuable advice to clients to ensure greater commercial success – comes from years of experience, paying close attention to the needs and wants of the market, and really listening to the needs and wants of your customers. Unlike some traditional companies, the Australian-based firm of Marchese Partners International Pty Ltd dedicates itself to not only creating aesthetic and highly functional state of the art structures, but coming up with solutions to give its customers significant competitive advantages in the marketplace. An international firm


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

of architects and interior designers with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, San Diego and San Francisco, Marchese remains a leader in the design of multi-unit residential, seniors living, aged care, mixed-use, hotel, resort, commercial, and retail projects. Founded in 1995 by Principal and Chairman Eugene Marchese, the company is today rated the fourth busiest practice in New South Wales in relation to volume of residential projects. Over the past 15 years, the firm has remained true to its ideals and founding principles. “We believe that everything we put out should be innovative, and we are about giving our clients a competitive edge in the marketplace,” says Mr Marchese.

“To give them that, they need to be able to have a product that sets them apart from everyone else that they’re competing against, in the forsale market in particular.” Years ago, Eugene Marchese – along with a young architect named Steve Zappia – were working together for a design-build firm specialising in the design and construction of multi-family residential mixed-use projects in and around Sydney. In time, the two decided to branch out from that business. There was, says Mr Marchese, a need for commercially-orientated architects who were able to deliver not only beautiful and innovative architecture, but projects that were built and delivered on budget and on time. Back

in the mid-Nineties, a number of Australian cities had embarked on urbanisation programs to bring people back to the centres, and Marchese was at the cusp of that movement towards innercity and urban residential mixed-use projects. “The consultants who were around at the time were probably not as focused on the developer market, or the needs of the developers in the market at the time,” says Mr Marchese, “so when Steve and I started out, we really wanted to address that opportunity, and so we focused our business on the private developer who wanted to have a product that had a point of difference, but was also able to deliver it at the right price, and within the right time frame. That’s really Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


what drove our business, and our mission statement.” By targeting a number of high-profile Sydney developers in the urban housing market, Marchese Partners enjoyed tremendous success for a number of years in the urban housing market spawned by Sydney and Melbourne.

Know Your Clients

To maintain the company’s recipe for success over the years, Marchese Partners recognises the needs of its clients, often becoming part of a project long before it even reaches the drawing board. By understanding and appreciating the expectations of others, Marchese Partners can better advise its clients and create designs that are truly unique. “I think where our success has been built is that we come up with solutions for clients that give them that competitive edge,” comments Mr Marchese. “For us to do that, we are continu-


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

ously re-examining what the market wants, and what it doesn’t know it wants yet. Sometimes, people don’t know what they want until you give it to them.” The extra ingredient Marchese offers to its customers often results in its clients’ being able to command a greater per square metre rate than that of other properties on the same street. “We have a point of difference,” says Mr Marchese. “It’s not just the way the building looks, but the whole big idea of what we come up with for our clients.” To celebrate the firm’s 15 years in business, Marchese Partners unveiled a number of new business developments and initiatives, including a new company logo, an updated website, and refreshed branding. A new office was established in Canberra, and a partnership was formalised with San Francisco-based retail design specialists Avila Design. These and many other initiatives and growth phases will lead the company

into the next decade and beyond. One thing that will remain the same is the company’s stellar reputation, and commitment to high-quality, innovative designs. At present, Marchese Partners has five senior designers in practice, who have been with the firm for an average of 12 years. Although every designer has his own style and way of doing things, concepts are underpinned by certain rationale and guidelines to create efficiency and maximise saleable area over gross building area. These and other fundamentals influence and inspire designers at the firm, who work in a series of teams and maintain the ability to create designs that are varied and unique. “We don’t have this sort of homogenous design that runs through the practice,” says Mr Marchese. “We give our senior designers plenty of scope, so that we can do two buildings in one

street, and they can look quite different, but there will be underlying factors that drive each one of those buildings. The efficiency, the saleability. The fundamental numbers are driven by a formula that we use in the business, but the architecture may be quite different.”

A Mix of Projects

From residential designs to hotels, commercial spaces to corporate interiors, Marchese designers specialise in these and other areas, and have evolved along with the growing business to create buildings that are iconic and timeless in design. Some, like the design for “Evo” submitted as an expression of interest to the Gold Coast City Council, calls for an $850 million proposal with two residential towers (101 and 70 storeys) set amongst a 7,000 square meter park. Others, like the recently completed Lucca Apartments, incorporate unique design elements like a floating timber box that encapsulates 49 residenAustralian Construction Focus | January 2011


tial apartments with six retail shops on the ground floor, making it a true masterpiece of modern design. No matter the concept, the firm’s past success has benefited Marchese with an estimated 90 percent repeat business. In addi-


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

tion, many of its clients have become friends over the years, with the firm working on 150 to 200 projects at various stages at any given time. “We are very involved with our clients, especially at the initial feasibility stage,” says Mr Marchese. “It is a process of investigation that drives a lot of our innovation. We’re al-

aged care market in particular. The market is growing, and true to form, Mr Marchese and his team have devised a number of truly groundbreaking projects based on residences for the aged. “Senior living has gone from 20 per cent of our work two years ago... to now close to 40 per cent, and I would say it’s going to go to 60 per cent within two years.” Some of the firm’s designs, like the seniors living development Waterbrook Greenwich, are geared towards resort-style living. With 79 apartments, the complex features facilities like a bowling green, swimming pool, gymnasium, theatre and restaurant, all spaciously set against a series of extensively landscaped courtyard areas. The notion of old-fashioned senior homes is changing for the better, and Marchese is behind much of that change.

ways trying to find another way of doing it, to make a site that doesn’t work into a site that does work.”

Innovators in Senior Living

In recent years, the firm has expanded into several residential spheres, the senior living-

“There is a new paradigm emerging in how we treat that sector, how we treat the elderly, and how they live out their remaining years. It’s really starting to drive a paradigm shift in the market.” One of the emerging changes is having a mix of old and young together in intergenerational living, with activities that embrace the elderly and encourage them to participate in society and day to day activities. “This notion that we lock seniors away for the last 20 years is really passé. It has lived its life, and it needs to be re-looked at. Our concept is creating these campus-style developments, where you mix the uses, and you allow the community to come in and re-engage with the elderly, because the elderly still have a lot to offer.” By continuously examining the needs of the marketplace, and coming up with novel ideas that benefit its many clients, Marchese Partners is assuring itself success for many years to come. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


-By John Boley


on Zarafetas believes in brick. As construction manager of Conrina Constructions, one of eastern Australia’s leading masonry contractors, he might be expected to like working with brick. But Con is keen to stress its bright future as a building material at a time when some people in the industry are tending to write it off. “Brickwork has been around for thousands of years and it’s tried and tested. All the new prod-


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

ucts that are trying to replace it haven’t really been around long enough to be thoroughly tested to see what the outcomes are going to be. We are a traditional trade but still relevant – obviously not to the scale we used to be but I’m convinced and confident that there is a good future for brick as a construction material.” Much of Conrina’s recent work has been on schools. “The bricks on the schools are going to last over a hundred years. Most of the schools in this country are brick-built and they are still

there, as an example of the longevity of brickwork. They will still look good in a hundred years’ time. They don’t deteriorate.” Brick is evolving to meet changing demands from architects and contractors, says Con. At the Redfern Housing Redevelopment, for example (see sidebar), the 4-5 storey buildings on the corners of the development are finished in glazed brick, “moving into more architectural design, more features.” In general, then, brickwork is “not finished yet, not by a long shot – we might have

lost the internal walls in buildings to other products but the facades will still remain, I think.” In another project, Knox Grammar school in Wahroonga, currently under way, good old-fashioned craftsmanship is what Con believes sets his company apart. “It’s a very detailed job with old fashioned brickwork – something of a landmark project that will advertise the quality of brick.” He explains that the architect is “brick-friendly” and the school, a boarding school with a lengthy heritage, was keen to ensure continuity in new

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Redfern (Sydney)

Redevelopment of the Elizabeth Street Redfern public housing site was given the go-ahead in 2007. The redevelopment aims to revitalise the inner-city neighbourhood and help turn it into a welcoming community for more young families, the elderly and those most in need. The old site, consisting of 106 walk-up units built in 1953, has been transformed into 264 modern apartments and houses - land for 158 of these will be sold on the private market and the profits will absorb part of the $27 million cost. The project includes 40 terraced houses with backyards for families, 66 purpose built accommodations for seniors, common recreation and green areas and environmentally friendly fixtures such as rainwater tanks, water-saving shower heads and cross-ventilation design to reduce energy use. Con believes Redfern, a contract of more than $3 million, was “probably the last of the load bearing, full brick projects in Sydney, because that conventional construction has been kind of designed out – it’s the last one that will ever happen on a major scale because it’s too labour intensive. “We were chosen partly because of manpower. At times we had 50 men on one job. We had so many because we were ‘critical path’ – they couldn’t do anything unless the brickwork was up – so we had to ‘build a wall, pour a slab, build a wall, pour a slab’.”


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

buildings so wanted the facade to be brickwork to match its other buildings. The design features many “old-style features from yesteryear – huge dome arches, a herringbone pattern in the brickwork, which is very difficult and time-consuming. We were pre-selected for that job because of our quality – we have men able to do that sort of work – and because of all the awards we have won for excellence in brickwork.” It’s a big job too, involving laying some 100,000 bricks. “On the Knox project we have a site manager who has more than 30 years experience; he can remember doing these sort of things as an apprentice, whereas today’s bricklayers, a lot of them would not have the skill any more. There’s definitely no substitute for experience.”

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Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


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January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

that could get it done in that time-frame. It’s all about servicing the programme, and the scale of a project. In this kind of project, the brick is the most visible part of the project; if the builder doesn’t get the brick right, then the job won’t be successful. He has to select a bricklayer that can deliver the quality.”

sion in the world. Don’t forget the first industry in the convict settlements was brickmaking.”

Conrina does not advertise and relies mainly on repeat business from clients that recognise the company’s quality – Con acknowledges that its prices are not always the cheapest but sufficient project owners do understand and appreciate that cheapest is rarely best. Although the use of brick has declined for some purposes, Conrina remains well placed. “The service we offer will become more niche, we’ll end up being more of a follow-on trade, less critical-path, more ‘feature’ than ‘bulk’. People will choose brick more as a feature, less as a construction type.” Finally, Con recalls just how old brickmaking is: “It’s the second-oldest profesAustralian Construction Focus | January 2011


-By John Boley


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus


ou could feel the buzz when, just before last Christmas, it was announced that Sydney will have its very own Gehry House in the heart of Ultimo. Canadian-born Frank Gehry, described by the New York Times as “the most acclaimed American architect since Frank Lloyd Wright”, has been developing a concept design for the University of Technology Sydney’s new Faculty of Business building as part of its Campus Master Plan. The early images certainly lived up to Gehry’s reputation for innovation and creativity – some might even say eccentricity, but that would be unlikely to offend the iconic 80-year-old practitioner of deconstructivism.

His company Gehry Partners spent six months refining the proposed concept design. Their trade-mark iterative process combines sketches, models and drawings with Gehry Technology’s 3D computer modelling. These tools enable Gehry to thoroughly explore a client’s brief and, with them, create a design that meets their programme and budget needs. With 25 iterations to date and counting, Gehry is now ready to advance his design. However, UTS will have to wait around another 10 months before concept plan becomes finished design. According to Gehry himself: “Architectural expression evolves very slowly. It comes from a deep understanding of the most important functional and social aspects of any project.

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

“The goals and objectives of the Faculty informed many iterations of the design, while urban issues such as the site, access, massing and height shape its context. But a concept design is not a fully developed architecture, it is a sketch, and we’ve only just begun to explore the possibilities.” The design is based on the idea of a tree-house structure. As Gehry has put it, “a trunk and core of activity and... branches for people to connect and do their private work.” The building will have two distinct external facades, one composed of undulating brick, referencing the sandstone and the dignity of Sydney’s urban brick heritage, and the other of large, angled sheets of glass to fracture and mirror the image of surrounding buildings. The project inspired Australian-Chinese businessman Dr Chau Chak Wing to donate a total of $25 million to UTS; $20 million of it to support the new building.

According to UTS vice-chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne, “this is a building for all of Sydney. There will be extensive public spaces with an external design that complements and acknowledges its place within the immediate area and within the city. “The project is already providing benefits for students outside the Business School, with four UTS architecture students selected for internships at Gehry Partners’ studios in Los Angeles.” The 11-storey, 16,030sq m floor area building (which is expected to enjoy an exception to the 42m height restriction in the area) will stand at the corner of Ultimo Road and Omnibus Lane on a site that once housed the Dairy Farmers Cooperative and is currently being used as a car park. When the concept was unveiled in December, some elements of the schematic design were still fluid and were subject to some modification, pending results of community consultation and authority approval which was due to finish in January. Construction is due to start in early 2012 and be complete in time for the 2014 academic year. The consulting team of architects Daryl Jackson Robin Dyke has been appointed to work with Gehry Partners (every project Gehry Partners does is designed by Gehry himself). At time of writing, UTS was engaged in short-listing builders to tender. In a recent interview Gehry himself was coy about what materials would be used in the building’s construction and finishing. He confirmed it “won’t be marble,” then added “there will be glass. We’re looking at many - brick, and brick has many possible variations. I mean there are hundreds of variations on brick size, and colour, and finish, so there’s a myriad of things there. Pre-cast concrete is one [option] - the technology for pre-cast concrete has gotten better and Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

better, so that it’s credible as a material. Before it used to have rounded edges, and all that stuff, and it was kind of recognised as a cheesy way to do things, but now it’s gotten more substance, and more respect. “There’s always all the metals that we’ve used; titanium, and stainless steel, and aluminium, and copper, and various forms of metal. Those are all in the commodity realm, and that fluctuates with the commodity realm fluctuations. As you might remember, in Bilbao [site of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao] we wanted titanium but it was too expensive, but by luck the Russians dumped titanium on the market, and it came in cheaper than what we thought we were going to use, which was stainless steel. There’s a lot of stuff like that that goes on between now and the end. We’ll propose alternatives, and we’ll study a lot of alternatives.” (reprinted courtesy of the University of Technology, Sydney). Gehry also referred to materials considerations being “based on realistic knowledge of what it costs to use them”, which might have been designed to remind critics that he has a track record of delivering buildings on time and within budget – unlike so many innovative designs such as Sydney’s own Opera House. The architect design statement declares that “the facade of the building will have two aspects and two different personalities. The east facing facade … is made of a buff coloured brick similar in colour to the Sydney Sandstone. The form of this facade curves and folds like soft fabric. The brick will be set

in horizontal courses and will step or corbel to create the shape. The texture of the surface will be rough and will emphasize the mass of the material. The shape flattens as it wraps around the north and south corners. Large windows punch this facade. The west facing facade that contains the ground level entry off Ultimo Road is composed of large shards of glass facade. This glass will be slightly reflective to fracture and mirror the image of the surrounding buildings of the neighbourhood. Sculptural brick towers will stand at the northwest and southwest corners of this facade.” Naturally, sustainability will be built in. Key measures currently being investigated by UTS and the project team include: low carbon emissions, to be achieved through low-energy air conditioning and lighting, and tri-generation power supply; smart air conditioning, designed to switch off when offices are empty for an extended period of time; monitoring of CO2 levels within the building; intelligent lighting that adjusts according to natural light levels; optimising natural light, including window positions, floor plate design and window glazing; and rainwater capture and storage for use in cooling towers and toilet flush applications. While it is unlikely that the Dr Chau Chak Wing building will emerge identical to the models so far revealed, Gehry is known to be uncompromising and most his works have retained substantially the same look and feel as their original concepts. The entire industry – those lucky enough to work on it and the rest of us – will watch the development of the old Dairy Farmers Cooperative with great interest. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



he capital of South Australia, the country’s fifth largest city, has been transformed in recent years and is set to continue with its major makeover as it prepares for the future. Not only growing with it but a central pillar in its plan is local company Maras Group, a privately owned and operated South Australian company whose


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Directors have been at the forefront of commercial, retail and industrial property investment and development for over 30 years. The company’s founder is Theo Maras, who as an architectural draughtsman found his way into developing and in 1980 teamed up with a part-

ner to form Mancorp, primarily a commercial property investment and development firm that specialised in conversions of older style buildings such as old CBD office buildings and old factories and warehouses. A parting of the ways in 2006 led Theo to found Maras Group, at which time he brought son Steve into the business.

Steve, who had been working as a director of Knight Frank in the city, takes up the story. “We work pretty much only in SA – we like to keep it local, we know the local market pretty well and while we have looked at properties interstate, we prefer to keep it local. We manage all our properties in-house so it’s easier for us, anyway, Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


to keep it specialised.” That means the inner metropolitan area of Adelaide – “when we say SA we predominantly mean Adelaide CBD and inner metro” – and over the last 15 years or so, one of this area’s most significant city transformations has been the redevelopment of the former East End Adelaide Fruit & Produce Exchange Co Ltd, less formally known to all as the East End Markets (see sidebar – Rundle Street East).

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January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

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Turnover among tenants in such a development is bad news, so is there a knack to choosing stable tenants and avoiding ‘churn’? “I don’t think there’s any secret to it, but we are very careful,” says Steve. “We very much investigate who the group is that’s coming in. We like to get to know the people on a personal level so we can learn quite a bit about their background and their

trading history so we know what we are dealing with. With all these things there is an element of luck – you dodge the hard times when the economy changes – but really it’s about knowing what type of operator you want and mixing them – so we don’t have 13 Thai restaurants or 8 Italian restaurants. We want a mix so we give the consumer a choice. The proof is that these operators have lasted a long time and are doing well.” Rundle Street East is now complete save for one more building to construct “and we are building our corporate offices on an existing building which will be ready hopefully March-April.” While its management division looks after these properties, Maras Group is concentrating its development resources a short drive away. “Now we are focusing on an inner northern main

road called Prospect Road, about 4 km north of CBD. We started looking about four years ago – it’s a very affluent district, considered to be one of Adelaide’s three most livable suburbs.” There are many buildings dating back to the early 1900s, and Steve maintains that its heart of commercial/retail properties has not kept pace with residential development, in terms of either the property and upgrades or its pricing. “We managed to buy a couple of sites right in the village heart. Currently, following four years of planning, the Prospect council is upgrading the four or five blocks of Prospect Road – total road resurfacing, expansion of footpath, creation of outdoor dining areas, revamp of all areas of public seating and lighting, commissioned artworks to put on the street - to do something that will totally transform that strip and make it into an attractive high street which we hope in turn will

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Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


RUNDLE STREET EAST, ADELAIDE Maras Group was responsible for turning the southern side of Rundle Street, bounded by East Terrace to the east and Union Street to the west, into a thriving and bustling mix of uses which includes retail, office, café/restaurant and licensed premises. In partnership with the state government, the strip has been completely redeveloped with a mix of refurbishments and new buildings, which include Vardon Avenue and Ebenezer Place to the rear. With its eclectic mix of uses and operators, the strip is now considered one of the most popular in South Australia and is home to the Adelaide Fringe and a host of other festivals and events. It is also regarded as Adelaide’s most popular high-end ‘boutique’ fashion destination, including brands such as SABA, Morrison, MIMCO, sass & bide, LISA HO, Calibre, Zimmermann, Alannah Hill, Jack London and many others. encourage some of the owners down there to upgrade their buildings or put in development applications to build new.” Now, adds Steve, there is also the prospect of being allowed to take your site upwards in terms of height (previously mainly ground floor with some first level, now there is the idea of shop-


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

When the plan was put to international tender, Mancorp (as it still was then) tendered for the commercial/retail outlets and Liberman Group tendered for a residential high-rise in the centre where the original market stood. In the commercial category Mancorp was the only Australian company to reach the final five and won. The state government required that many gabled and arched facades, which had formed the entrances to the market, should be retained while the tin sheds in the middle that actually housed the market would be removed. The former Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange site has been developed in nine stages by Rundle Street East Company Pty Ltd (Mancorp) and the Liberman Group, as shops, business premises and residential accommodation. ‘Garden East’, as it is sometimes known, is consistent with Adelaide city council’s progressive residential development policies (its plan foresaw by 2010 a resident populatop housing, “as well as more boutique office space and the like”). Maras Group is working on the western side, where there is “about 4,000 metres of new building space – ground floor fashion and eateries and we’re looking at a cinema complex on upper levels very similar to Rundle St – or we

tion of 34,000, a city workforce of 111,000, average daily visitor numbers of at least 150,000 and at least 66,000 students in institutional learning) and the state government’s emphasis on ‘urban regeneration’ in the city and other established parts of metropolitan Adelaide. Focusing on the rejuvenation of the area, Maras “wanted to establish something Oz didn’t have at the time, namely a dedicated national fashion hub,” explains Steve. Accordingly, his team set out to find reliable, good-name, high-end tenants that would stay for a long time to add to many established businesses (such as the Stag Hotel, on its corner location since 1873 and – claiming to be the “worst vegetarian restaurant in Adelaide” – one of the city’s best-loved watering holes). To supplement the eateries, Maras Group decided on fashion. “There had previously been a mix of shops without a common thread,” says Steve. “Because of the quality of the street, regarded as one of Adelaide’s premier high streets, we looked for a point of difference.” They went to top-end fashion operators. “Because we controlled one side of the street we could produce a proper fashion hub and offer them a site where they need not be concerned about having something unsuitable next door – for example, if I put Lisa Ho in a tenancy, I am not about to put a fast-food outlet next door. We looked at this as a five-year plan but it happened over less than 2 years.” Even Steve sounds impressed. After all, “these are some of the most sought-after names in the country.” could be looking at a mix of offices and housing. We’d look at this because there is huge demand in Prospect for apartment living, something never done in the past but given its location and accessibility to the centre, it’s a good idea to look at buildings with living space in them too.” On the company website, Steve Maras talks of Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

being committed to “taking Maras to the next level,” so where is that? “We are a privately owned group, we don’t answer to anyone other than ourselves,” he responds. “We’re about creating communities within communities. Like Prospect – we are looking to build pockets of mixed-use and we want to be able to set our mark in that sort of development, breaking away from traditional city or CBD-type generic development work and creating sustainable long term multi-use developments that are community-oriented. “We prefer to stay within 10 km radius of the CBD and there are still pockets (certainly to Adelaide’s north and south) that are underdeveloped.” New developments will be permitted to 5-6 storeys and beyond, designed to keep population growth within the area and not exacerbate sprawl. It is vital to retain the feel and nature of long-established areas, Steve stresses, but in addition “we want to see an Adelaide city that progresses” – he believes it lagged rather in the past two decades – “it needs more progress in fostering more residential living to not only encourage population growth but also accommodate the growth we are anticipating.” Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus


s we move into this next era of design and creation, construction and design firms are challenged not only to continually improve the quality of work but also to enhance the relevance of the design. In many cases, the trend has leaned toward innovative and modern design elements, providing the futuristic minimalist feel of progress - but many still prefer the traditional elements and styles honoured by the classics. One company – Gosford Quarries – is not only able to provide designers and builders with both of these options, but also prides itself on its original designs suited to any taste that will last for years to come. Since its inception in 1922, Gosford Quarries has been widely recognised for its unrivalled sandstone production and expertise in all areas of quarrying, processing and supply for construction, landscaping, commercial and conservation markets. With a total holding of seven dedicated quarries, each offering its own unique history and beauty to the product, it’s no wonder that Gosford is a leader in the field of high quality sandstone products.

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


What truly sets Gosford Quarries apart, however, is the supreme attention to detail that each and every sandstone piece is afforded throughout the process of development from raw sandstone to beautifully finished product. While the sandstone is typically machine cut, utilising progressive technology, most of the pieces are then hand-crafted to ensure that the raw material is best celebrated through every facet, cut and curve. One can tell by looking at some of Gosford Quarries’ completed projects throughout Australia that you are looking not merely at


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

an impressive construction, but rather, a work of living art. In fact, cognisant of the evolving beauty of sandstone as it interacts with the elements and with time, the Gosford Quarries designers take special care to consider the life of the material as an integral design element. Appreciating the durability and unique qualities of Gosford’s sandstone, many companies across a variety of sectors have sought out these products for use on major new construction and restoration projects. In a way, Gosford’s sand-

stone can be seen as an emblem of Australia’s natural beauty and strength, with its application seen on such prestigious buildings as the Commemorative Museum of Sydney and the Governor Phillip Tower, also in Sydney. Both of these projects have garnered international architectural awards for the company, recognition of the craftsmanship and innovative design that went into their creation. Most recently, Gosford Quarries has supplied sandstone for the restoration of the St. Mary’s

Cathedral Spires and for an exciting new sculpture in the works in Sydney. From the ornately carved tracery stones of the cathedral, to the extravagant artistic work put forth for the large sculpture, Gosford Quarries’ trade workers excel in both delivery and dedication. In addition to its restoration and commercial work, Gosford Quarries is considered to be Australia’s premier sandstone supplier for the retail market, offering a stunning selection of interior and exterior domestic products including feature Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

walls, paving and pool surrounds, water features and individual art pieces. Gosford Quarries services these markets through its distribution centres in Sydney, Somersby, Melbourne and Brisbane. Again, many iconic buildings of Australia have taken advantage of this premium product, including the War Memorial Buildings in Canberra, the Hilton Hotel Elliptical Columns in George St, Sydney, the Star City Casino in Sydney, and St. John’s College. As Australia’s largest sandstone producer and “dimension stone” company, Gosford Quarries is eager to continue its growth on an international scale. Currently, it is exporting its product to the United States, China, the Middle East, Taiwan, South East Asia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and the South Pacific - exports which represent a growing percentage of Gosford Quarries’ total turnover. Recently, Gosford Quarries’ supplied sandstone for internal claddings to the prestigious Al Awadi Shopping Mall in Kuwait. A product whose genesis began millions of years ago, as sedimentary deposits were laid down and quartz particles bonded together, Australian Sandstone is a unique and spectacular natural construction material. Through its range of textures and colour variations and the multitude of applications it can be used for, it is, indeed, an exciting product to represent Australia on the national stage. It is difficult to think of another company better suited to do just that than the dedicated craftsmen and artisans at Gosford Quarries, who quarry the product through a 100% natural process, administering time-honoured techniques to accentuate its natural beauty. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than that is to witness the history revealed through the medium in one of its many iconic applications currently on display throughout Australia. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



stablished in 1998 as a specialist in project delivery over a broad range of capabilities, ITC merged with Cardno is 2010 to become Cardno ITC. This new phase of operation signaled a remarkable change in the way that the company was able to meet its clients’ ever evolving needs – not only was it able to continue to provide innovative and complete solutions, but it was now backed by an internationally powerful integrated professional services provider. Cardno International began with operations in Brisbane as a civil engineering consultancy firm, eventually expanding through strategic merg-


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

ers with other companies which would augment and enhance its capabilities. Today, Cardno is able to offer management and environmental services as well as Project Management for international development assistance programs. With over 3,700 employees working out of more than 150 offices across 13 countries, Cardno is proud of its strong regional force as well as its unique specialist teams in major cities. Cardno ITC, with its highly specialised teams providing clients with “The Complete Solution” for any professional engineering or facility service project, is able to translate Cardno’s grand, na-

-By Aleisha Parr

tional vision into a personal experience for each and every client.

more specialisation than one might think possible.

“It is the innovative culture and extensive experience of our people combined with the Cardno ITC national offices working as a team of unified resources that provides an ultimate point of difference for our clients.”

Cardno ITC is not a “cut and paste” solution company. Every design is different, as is every client, and Cardno ITC excels at providing specialised engineering solutions. Organising itself into highly skilled teams of employees for each market sector, Cardno ITC provides each client with a comprehensive list of customisable options capable of exceeding any design and build dream. On every project, team communication is key to developing succinct and viable design documentations.

Extensive experience doesn’t even begin to define what Cardno ITC has to offer. Servicing commercial, industrial, retail, residential, hospitality, data centres, health and aged care, education and government markets, the company offers

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


The specific areas of expertise offered begin with Due Diligence and Audit services, whereby the Cardno ITC team inspects and audits the building services of an existing or proposed structure to identify potential risks, shortfalls, capacities or capital upgrade options. Further, Cardno ITC’s


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

expertise encompasses facility solutions, building automation and control systems, mechanical, fire, security, electrical, communications cabling and more. In keeping with the rapidly developing technology delivery requirements of many companies serviced by the firm, it also of-

ity measures and requirements, but also offers consulting, strategy and policy services to its clients in this area. These services include – but are certainly not limited to - such measures as NABERS Energy (ABGR) Compliance Assessment and Submissions, Green Star Compliance Guidance, Assessment and Submissions, Section ‘J’ BCA Assessments, renewable energy engineering, Co and Tri Generation engineering, carbon trading and emissions profiling and internal air quality sampling and results. What is even more impressive about Cardno ITC’s service offerings is that all of it is carried out in-house thanks to the extraordinary expertise and dedication of its staff. Each client who walks into a Cardno ITC office can expect to receive an individually customised project plan, with highly specialised and innovative technologies for each aspect of the project. The company values the unique challenges brought forth by each project, and strives to ensure that only the most skilled and appropriately experienced workers are on the job.

fers an impressive selection of voice and technology, audio visual and acoustic services and innovations. Finally, as a socially conscious organisation, Cardno ITC not only complies with sustainabil-

Some of the company’s most recent and compelling projects include its extensive work providing services for data centres including the ATO Data Centres in various locations across Melbourne, Brisbane and Queensland, as well as the Defense Data Systems Refurbishments for three sites currently in progress for the Department of Defence. For these projects, Cardno ITC was responsible for developing data, communications and building services as well as a host of overall plant and infrastructure upgrades. Cardno ITC was responsible for the Department of Employment and Workforce Relations National Office Fit-out Projects, a $20m project which spanned the country and required extenAustralian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

sive coordination and management. Design and Documentation for this project was supplied by Cardno ITC for such building services as electrical, mechanical, fire and safety, hydraulic, audio visual and communications. Furthermore, the company focused its attention on ensuring the project included energy efficient lighting, building automation, mechanical plant efficiency and integrated automation. A rather unique project for Cardno ITC was the 2009 Australian Chancery for Cambodia/Phnom Penh, a Greenfields Project. With stringent criteria for all DFAT embassies regarding the design of electrical, data, security and mechanical services, Cardno ITC was required to design and coordinate

its process in accordance with commonwealth criteria such as the SCEC and DFAT Cable and Communications standards. Cardno ITC’s teams faced even these challenges with great success. Ultimately, the strength of this multi-faceted company lies in its ability to coordinate efforts on all fronts while remaining accessible to all key stakeholders. It is through this compartmentalisation of expertise that Cardno ITC is able to continuously meet or exceed each client’s needs, whether it is a simple specific project or a massive, multi-functional design. Where some companies may “think big” and under-deliver, Cardno ITC thinks specific and delivers the complete solution. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


-By Jaime McKee


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus


or centuries, people around the world have been building homes out of straw. Historically, reeds, grasses and straw have been used in thatch roofing, as wall insulation, and woven into flooring materials; following the invention of baling machines in the late 1800s, the compact, easily managed bales enabled walls to be constructed out of this renewable and versatile material. Far from being an outmoded building technique, straw bale construction once again has a place in Australian home design, as eco-pioneers and leading edge construction firms seek out sustainable alternatives to traditional materials. Straw is the dry stalk left in the earth after the harvest of wheat, barley, rye, rice or oat plants and is traditionally considered a waste product, to be burned or baled and sold for animal use. A non-toxic building material with low environmental impact and superior insulating properties, it is generally used in one of two ways in home construction: structural straw bale construction sees the weight of the roof supported by the bales themselves, offering a simpler build, while post and beam construction supports the basic structure with conventional timber, with straw bales filling the spaces. In either case, straw bale walls are typically finished with cement stucco or earth-based plaster, sealing them from the elements and allowing for great flexibility in design. Straw bale walls can be square or rounded, uniform or undulating, with niches, ledges and windows built in as desired. Extensively utilised by enterprising homeowners in the United States, straw bale homes have come a long way since their early incarnations. While some dozen or so Australian examples persist from the 1930s, the country’s first modern straw bale building was constructed by Bill Mollison in 1993 at Tyalgam’s Permaculture Research Institute in NSW. In 1995, Grass Roots magazine published an article on the concept, and straw bale building took off from there into Queensland, Western Australia, New Zealand, and beyond. With the word and skill set spread primarily through sustainable living networks and community-based workshops, the practice of building with straw is one that has evolved with time, research, experimentation and testing. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011



January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

The benefits of building with straw are many. Straw is a renewable resource, yet one which often goes to waste. It is estimated that in New South Wales alone, rice farmers burn over 600,000 tonnes of rice straw annually, releasing 30,000 tonnes of CO2 and 2,000 tonnes of particulate matter into the atmosphere in the process. The same volume, meanwhile, could produce approximately 48,000 straw bale homes - representing a thrid of all new homes built in Australia each year - whilst substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Straw also has excellent insulating properties, performing very well in sub-tropical and temperate climates. With an R-value ranging from R4.8 to R9 for a standard bale, straw bale walls have over twice the minimum recommended R-value for the wall of a house in most parts of Australia and New Zealand. Combined with passive solar design, a straw bale house could substantially reduce the amount of energy - and expense - required to heat and cool a home throughout the year. Similarly, straw bale/mortar wall structures have also proven to be exceptionally resistant to fire. The straw holds enough air to provide good insulation but, as the bales are firmly compacted, they don’t hold enough air to permit combustion. In tests, straw bale homes have actually been shown to provide superior fire protection over many conventional materials. Finally, homeowner participation and capacitybuilding is a key advantage to straw bale construction. With a strong network of local knowledge-holders and an abundance of web-based and video tutorials, homeowners have the opportunity to access all the information they need to apply their own labour to the building process, allowing them to save money, customise their homes, and gain skills along the way. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


If building one’s own straw bale home sounds a little intimidating, however, there are a number of specialists within Australia and New Zealand lending their expertise to the process. In 2002, Ausbale (The Australasian Straw Bale Building Association) was born out of Wagga Wagga’s International Straw Bale Building Conference. A group of building industry professionals, researchers, owners, builders, and interested citizens, Ausbale is an association dedicated to contributing to the “growing movement towards better, smarter, ecologically sustainable, non-toxic and beautiful buildings”.


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Its website acts as a hub for discussion and advice as well as providing technical specifications, international building codes, photo galleries and contact information for professionals in the field. One such industry professional is Authentic Straw Bale Construction Ltd, a New Zealand-based company bringing over 35 years of home-building experience to alternative construction methods including Straw Bale, Compressed Earth Block and Rammed Earth walls. Making the move to sustainable materials “to accommodate a growing mar-

ket sector”, the company’s approach aims to create “affordable homes and buildings that are not only beautiful with a natural character, but also environmentally friendly”. In a similar vein, Huff ‘n’ Puff Strawbale Constructions has been providing professional straw bale construction since 1998. Based in New South Wales, the company is owned by Susan and John Glassford (John is Ausbale’s founder and Charter President), and conducts instructional workshops and courses which are open to the public. Environ-

mental Building Solutions, operating out of Canberra and Southern NSW, is another innovative firm offering a range of sustainable designs including straw bale construction. As more and more homeowners look to alternative home-building techniques - and increasingly take their home-building into their own hands - and a growing collection of companies aim to meet the demand for sustainable housing design, we can be assured of seeing straw bale construction on the horizon for years to come. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


- By John Boley


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus


ay Constructions Pty Ltd describes itself as “a medium-sized building contractor established in 1991 by Peter May”. The company has a consistent record of achieving short construction periods whilst maintaining the highest level of quality. Most of its business is won via word-of-mouth recommendation and May has a proven ability to successfully manage many diverse projects of varied size and complexity, covering both residential and commercial activity. The company’s main focus is on light commercial projects, and includes school extensions and refurbishments, church and community facilities, retail and commercial premises, warehouse/factory extensions and alterations, and multi-use developments. In addition to the construction of commercial buildings, May Constructions also offers services in project management and consulting. Among school projects the company is proud of, and which are featured on its own website, are works on Ivanhoe Grammar School, Doreen, St Charles Borromeo Primary School, Templestowe, the Greek Orthodox School, Oakleigh, the Knox School, Knox and Kingswood College, Box Hill. Community and commercial projects (see also sidebar) include such diverse buildings as Olinda Police Station, Serrell St Uniting Church, Malvern East, Dough Buoys Doughnuts and ‘The Garage’ on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.

Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Australian Centre for the Moving Image

As one of Victoria’s major cultural, tourism and learning attractions, ACMI is an integral element in Melbourne’s position as one of the world’s truly creative cities. Starting life as the State Film Centre in 1946, ACMI evolved from being a Collection-based institution to an internationally recognised national hub for screening and advocacy, screen education, industry engagement and audience involvement. Driven by the desire to fulfil its vision to become the world’s leading moving image centre, ACMI has now carried out the most significant phase of its development and growth since the doors opened in 2002. With the support of the Victorian Government, a suite of new production and exhibition spaces and refreshed public offers were introduced at ACMI in 2009, providing audiences of all ages and abilities with diverse, stimulating and creative opportunities to actively engage with the moving image and screen culture.


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Serrell St Uniting Church, Malvern East The company is no stranger to awards and in a recent HIA Australian Bathroom Project of the Year competition the judges awarded May Constructions a perfect score for craftsmanship, commenting: “Using a minimalist look and an outstanding use of materials, this bathroom met the clients’ brief for a sleek contemporary bathroom without compromising on the quality of materials. It is an innovative use of space, design and materials.” According to the company, most commercial work is carried out with the client/tenant in situ, when it is essential that business can continue with minimal disruption. In such circumstances superior results have been achieved through

meticulous planning and effective communication, and the company prides itself on being able to carry out the work in such an efficient manner. May Constructions continues to enjoy measured growth and it is company policy to provide professional, reliable and effective service through the use of qualified, experienced staff and proven work procedures; company staff and management recognise that being consistent with both its product and its quality of service will ensure maximum client satisfaction, repeat business and continued growth. Peter May himself holds a Bachelor of Building Australian Construction Focus | January 2011


Mary MacKillop church, Keilor Downs Just over 20 years ago, the first parishioners of Keilor Downs made the bold step of establishing a community of faith. Since then the district and the Parish have grown far and above that original vision. There are now more than 3,500 families who form the Catholic Community of Blessed Mary MacKillop. In September of 2001 the Parish decided to construct a new and bigger church to provide for the spiritual needs of the community. The result, the church of Blessed Mary MacKillop Keilor Downs–Taylors Lakes has become a unique feature in the urban landscape. Parishioners are immensely proud of the result of their hard work and sacrifice, according to parish priest Fr Charles Portelli. The great rose window measures 25 sq m and was constructed using a series of antique panels made in France. It gives an impressive perspective and ever changing light to the building. Positioned high above the sanctuary, the elaborate gilded cedar cross was carved in 1830. The figure of Christ in the Spanish tradition is much older, possibly the late 17th century. The church was officially opened in 2004.


January 2011 | Australian Construction Focus

Camberwell Fresh Food Market

qualification from RMIT and has many years experience both on the tools and in managing projects including institutional, industrial and multiunit residential. Mr May’s professional training and practical experience provide the solid foundation upon which May Constructions has built its reputation. May Constructions’ General Manager is Colleen O’Brien, who since 2008 has also served as president of HIA Victoria, the first female president in Victoria’s history (see also sidebar). Ms O’Brien is also an active member of the Victorian Small Business Advisory Council and a mother of three. In addition to the top management, May’s professionally qualified and experienced office staff include a construction manager, business manager, project manager, quantity surveyor, estimator, contracts administrator, finance officer, and graduate/trainee. In addition, site staff

comprise foremen/supervisors, carpenters and apprentice carpenters. Core site staff are supplemented on an as-needed basis and sub-contractors complete the balance of work. May Constructions recognises and is committed to its responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of its employees, operating the FJ Systems Occupational Health & Safety Management System. This is based on WorkCover’s SafetyMAP Edition 3 Audit System. As a result, May has an excellent safety record and promotes safety awareness, training and responsibility for all its staff. May Constructions is pre-registered with the Department of Infrastructure, is an active member of industry associations and holds Executive Committee membership of the Housing Industry Association. Australian Construction Focus | January 2011