26/06/2007 - 22:00

Global view for Woods Bagot

26/06/2007 - 22:00


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After six years at the helm of Perth architectural studio of Woods Bagot, Ross Donaldson has taken on the role as the group’s global managing director.

Global view for Woods Bagot

After six years at the helm of Perth architectural studio of Woods Bagot, Ross Donaldson has taken on the role as the group’s global managing director.

A busy schedule will include plenty of travel and the opportunity to design cutting-edge educational and research facilities around the world.

Mr Donaldson’s latest project is the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s flagship Institute of Advanced Study and School of Business Management.

Woods Bagot won the commission through an international design competition that attracted a field of 34 leading university architects.

Incorporated into the master plan are a new five-star hotel, where short-term visitors to the business management school can stay and a series of luxury villas for research students and their families.  

Mr Donaldson told WA Business News the Australian and Hong Kong offices were working together to review and further develop the design concept for the $140 million project before an expected construction start next year.

Woods Bagot is also working closely with Hong Kong-based architects DLN.

“The institute will work as an incubator of breakthrough scientific research and its aim is to bring innovation to the marketplace more quickly and attract the best minds in the world there,” Mr Donaldson said.

“From a visual point of view, the buildings provide a filter for business and science between the West and China and encourage collaborative learning and thinking through flexible spaces.”

Key design elements of the business school include suspended multi-level case study rooms representing large Chinese red lanterns known as ‘knowledge lanterns’.

The lanterns work to anchor the business school and will appear as lights on the hill above Clear Water Bay at Kowloon.

Academic rooms are also based on a cluster model to encourage interaction.

Among Mr Donaldson’s inspirations for the project were a recent international tour to leading universities around the world, including Cambridge in England and Princeton in the US.

“Princeton and Cambridge universities decided a long time ago to invest in front-end pure research. The focus for Cambridge in particular is moving international scientists away from formal teaching spaces, therefore facilitating unplanned conversation and break through thinking,” he said.

Mr Donaldson said Asia and the Middle East were emerging as strong markets for Woods Bagot, with governments in these regions having high aspirations and nation building strategies that were extremely open to innovative design.

As a result of its growing presence in these areas, this year will be the first time the 137-year-old company will breach the $100 million gross revenue mark; 40 per cent of this is attributed to work in the Middle East.

Its Dubai office of 170 people is the largest of the group, which has 14 offices around Australia, Asia, Middle East and Europe. Another will open soon in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Taking a leaf from those progressive universities it admires, Woods Bagot is investing 2 per cent of its revenue, or $2 million this year, into further design research.


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