What is life like as a graduate at Woods Bagot?

As part of an ongoing Q&A series, we’re introducing you to our most recent intake of Graduates and their unique experiences in the Woods Bagot global studio. Read about their experiences below.

Robbie Bernard

Q: You’re starting your WB Graduate journey learning about design (as your first ‘Gateway’). Which skills are you excited to develop?

A: For me, the Design Gateway is a particularly exciting component of the graduate program. I’m hoping to build my skills at the early stages of design: testing massing options, experimenting with programmatic arrangements, and fleshing out conceptual narratives. I’m also curious to work with the experts at Woods Bagot to use the many technical tools at hand (parametric modelling and environmental analysis, for instance) in order to develop sustainable, practical and innovative designs. Most of all, I’m looking forward to working with and learning from people with different interests and areas of expertise to my own.

Q: What was your first day in the Melbourne studio like? Is there anyone you’re particularly excited to work with?

Caitlin Wallace

A: My first day was exciting! There was a lot of information to process, however the general vibe I took away from the day was that this is a place that nurtures learning and professional growth. The team I was allocated were all welcoming and have since all been helpful answering all my questions and showing me the ropes.

From the presentation I found that there is such an expansive range of projects throughout the Sectors. What I found most intriguing about the Global Structure was the Streams. The Global Impact Group drew my attention as an area I would like to learn more about. As Hazel Porter is the Melbourne Studio Rep for this group, I am excited to meet and work with her in the future, along with other members of this initiative.

Nicole Zee

Q: What’s your first week been like in the Sydney studio for you and the other grads – what have you guys been up to? Have you met the grads from other studios yet?

A: We kicked started our first day at WB with coffees with our buddies where we learnt more about one another, followed by a welcome lunch with Ian, Tracey and the rest of the students in the Sydney studio on Tuesday. We’ve all been assigned to a project, so we are already getting busy with helping our team! There were also various presentations by different departments of the company – the amount of information could be overwhelming, but I am sure we all feel reassured that there is so much support and resources available to us.

We’ve briefly met the other grads over video calls but my fingers are crossed hoping that we can all meet in person by the end of the year! It’ll be a fantastic opportunity to exchange our experiences in each studio!

Q: Going from student to graduate is often about putting theory into practice, what ‘hands on’ experience are you most looking forward to gaining during your graduate program?

Mitch Sack

A: So much time is spent in architecture school learning how to approach problems conceptually and figuring out our own design processes. The idea of using these skills and methodologies to create tangible outcomes for real problems is something I find particularly exciting and is one of the main reasons I chose to pursue a career in architecture. Given the time constraints of a single semester, there is generally very little ability to realise designs beyond a concept stage. I am looking forward to the grad program exposing me to the latter stages of projects, getting on site and seeing all of the initial ideas finally executed as a built work.

Studying architecture is also so often a highly solitary exercise, spending countless hours as a solo creative making every decision, when in reality the industry relies so heavily on collaboration and different skill sets. The opportunity to work within a team and learn first hand from architects who have a wealth of expertise and different approaches to design will be an invaluable part of the grad program.

Dana Kittel

Q: Tell us a little about the process you went through to join the WB graduate program?

A: When I read through the description about the Woods Bagot graduate program, I knew I had to be a part of it. After sending my application, I got a call from Domonique Scotta who was very friendly and explained the details and expereinces I’d gain through the program. I was so pleased when she asked me to come in for an interview with David Lee and Ama Adikari. Meeting them was great – I talked them through my portfolio and I was quite nervous, but they were both so kind and approachable it felt like I was catching up with a tutor from uni. The process went super quick, it took a few days for me to find out that I was accepted, and I had a long month of being eager to start. After spending a week here I am very grateful to be in a company that has great people and is a fun and welcoming environment. I am excited and looking forward to the experiences that the graduate program will bring me.

Q: You’re working on the Central Market Arcade Redevelopment design development – as someone that would have grown up with that site, which part are you most excited about seeing once its built?

Hannah Lees

A: The Central Markets for me is what makes Adelaide unique. I love visiting the markets and experiencing the diversity of foods and people all within the one place. I am excited for the markets to become a central hub for people of all ages to meet at and experience the diversity within. I am looking forward to experiencing the Market Hall once the project has been built. This is a place where people can come to meet and enjoy what the markets have to offer. Growing up I would visit the Central Markets on a weekly basis with the family. It would be great for families across Adelaide to have the same experience in a place that has been around for so long.

Sarah Ellis

Q: You’re starting your WB Graduate journey learning about documentation (as your first gateway). Which skills are you excited to develop?

A: Beginning my graduate program with documentation is a challenging gateway to start with but one that I am really looking forward to. Being introduced to limited knowledge of documentation at university, I am excited to develop the methodology Woods Bagot practices to produce uniform drawing sets for a large-scale workplace project.

Commencing my gateway on 83 Pirie Street, alongside the base building team, allows me to experience the integration and communication between architects and interior designers in-house. This exposure will benefit my learning on understanding what the level of detail is required for each documentation milestone. Another aspect of documentation I am looking forward to developing is my Revit skills and learning the TDS standards.

Being assigned to a project with a diversified and encouraging team, alongside an inclusive studio, I am excited to see what experiences and skills this gateway will teach me.

Q: Your first 6 months will be spent learning working on projects that are in their concept phase – what are you most looking forward to?

Naveen John Thomas

A: University education pushes you to develop concepts which, in real life may be considered a bit ‘out there’ to say the least. Rarely do we consider design constraints such as planning rules and council regulations at university. Working on projects in the conceptual stage allows me to learn, by observation and active participation, how these projects are approached with specific constraints in mind. I am also looking forward to developing a personal connection with the projects, learning, and growing with them as they develop.

Starting with conceptual development of these projects could also mean, down the line, I could be involved in the documentation of the project. It could add another dimension to my architectural career if I could see a project through to the documentation stage. With the design of the graduate program, this could be possible if the project timelines work out, and I am excited for it.

Johnny Li

Q: What kind of project would be your dream project to work on? Is there a particular sector you’d like to see the inner workings of?

A: As a graduate interior architect, I have always fascinated with the idea of interiority that create a sense of place in the architecture, along side with beautiful detailing in materiality and lighting instilling atmospheric quality in the place, a cultural place where about collective memory and human emotion.

Those elements are always exists on cultural centre or museum/ exhibition space which are always my favourite typology, one typical example by Woods Bagot is the Nan Tien Education and Culture Centre – this project has fully blew my mind! The sophisticated of detailing in both architecture and interior really inspires me because it is such a poetic piece of work that showcases the relationship in between place, people and culture. This is the kind of the dream project I really want to explore and work on.

Q: You’re working on the AACC – a project very close to many hearts – what does working on it mean to you?

Jasmine Kerdel

A: As a strong, proud Wirangu, Kokatha, Mirning woman I am very passionate about architecture and my Aboriginal culture and community. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to bring together my passions and invest them into a project that will benefit Aboriginal people and culture as well as the broader community. It provides a platform to showcase and celebrate Aboriginal cultures and languages both contemporary and historically on a national and international platform, giving visibility to the oldest living culture on the planet.

I’m excited and honoured to follow in the steps of my ancestors, and the many Aboriginal trailblazers who have contributed in so many ways to make this a reality, not only the AACC itself, but for me as a young Aboriginal Architect to be able to represent my culture at work. This is more than a project to me because it’s about my family, my culture and my history. I’m proud to be working with Woods Bagot in creating a landmark that will educate, strengthen community and breakdown barriers, giving a place for sharing, listening and healing. More importantly, a place for truth telling to support the conversations about Australia’s Aboriginal history, giving it the spotlight, it has always deserved.

Caitlin Lynch

Q: Tell us a bit about working with your buddy – have you had a coffee together yet?

A: I’ve had a very warm welcome into the Adelaide Studio, and everyone has been helpful and accommodating. I have got to know my mentor Rani, and she has introduced me to the BHP project that I will be working on. She has been a tremendous help and has taught me many new things over the past three weeks. We’ve had a drink on a Friday night after work and have got to know each other outside of the office. I sit next to Sah’mon, she has also been a great mentor and is supportive when I need her assistance. Sitting next to an experienced Interior Designer has made me feel at ease with getting my head around the various tasks I have been given. I have really enjoyed the induction process and getting to know the other graduates.

As a new graduate entering the workplace, I thought I would be overwhelmed with what was expected of me. However, my experience has been very positive, and everyone has been understanding and are patient and responsive when I have a question. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my first few weeks of full-time employment. I am looking forward to my journey at Woods Bagot and meeting the challenges that I will be faced with.

Q: You interned for Woods Bagot and have returned as a Graduate – why us?

Christine Tan

A: There are so many reasons! Woods Bagot is a place where I feel excited and inspired to design. The internship was a glimpse into working in a design studio, where I was exposed to wonderful projects of various scales and typologies. It was an immensely valuable experience. An aspect I enjoyed most was working with incredible people who were genuinely interested in guiding and teaching me. Coming out of university with little experience can be very intimidating. However I know Woods Bagot is a place where I will be supported and given the opportunity to grow as a young designer. This is where I can test and research ideas that impact the way we live and work. As part of a global studio, I look forward to working collaboratively on projects in Australia and hopefully one day around the world!

Erin Paterson

Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between working in design and studying it?

A: The biggest difference I have found working in the industry this week to studying design is the office. Working in the office on design projects is completely different to studying at home or on campus; in the office you are collaborating with team members where at home or on campus you are mostly working individually.

The office has a positive, welcoming and organised environment, encouraging myself and others to dive into our projects. The routine of 8:30am – 5:15pm is a huge change as I am new to morning meetings, phone calls with team members about project updates or reviews, whereas, while studying it can be a week’s turn around until reviews are given.

The support and collaboration the office atmosphere holds from my project team members or colleagues sitting at adjacent workstations, showcases how different it is to work in design as opposed to studying design.

But it is not only the people in the office but the office itself, that is a huge difference to studying design; from the various material samples on display, project timelines showcased and buzzing of supplier deliveries. The office sets the scene that I am not longer studying, I am now working in design.

Check back weekly or follow our Twitter feed to follow the journey of the latest Graduates at Woods Bagot.

Applications for our Australia & New Zealand 2022 Graduate program open soon.

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