03/04/2007 - 22:00

Mollett sees golden days

03/04/2007 - 22:00

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Rod Mollett has wasted no time in his new role as president of the local chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in echoing calls for Perth to embrace what many claim is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mollett sees golden days

Rod Mollett has wasted no time in his new role as president of the local chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in echoing calls for Perth to embrace what many claim is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

He says Perth’s building boom is akin to the gold rush of the late 19th century, and the city is almost being rebuilt.

“It’s a once in a generation opportunity, because things are so buoyant. There’s money about and we should spend it, and spend it wisely, and get a result that makes Perth a point of difference,” Mr Mollett said.

“The only issue architects have is the lack of resources because it’s so busy here at the moment. It’s getting seasoned architects on board that’s a challenge.”

As the director of architectural firm Silver Thomas Hanley, Mr Mollett has been a part of the state’s building scene for more than 30 years.

He therefore brings to his role at the RAIA a perspective on the current building boom not available to many of his less experienced counterparts.

Mr Mollett has designed many of Perth’s prominent private and public sector buildings, including Burswood International Resort Casino and St John of God Hospital Murdoch.

His appointment last month came amid ongoing, significant economic prosperity and building activity in Perth.

And the industry’s workload is only set to get bigger, with expressions of interest open on the concept design for the $1.1 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, the largest and most complex public health project in WA to date. 

A number of WA architectural and planning firms are believed to have formed consortiums to bolster their expertise and chances of gaining the high-profile contract.

Mr Mollett believes the design of the hospital would be an enormous challenge, and required a collaborative effort between architects and planners.

“This one will have the chance to be iconic, not just in architecture externally but in the way the lay-out is treated internally and how people will move through the space. It’s a total package,” he said.

Mr Mollett is confident there are sufficient local firms capable of undertaking the work, and hoped the outcome of the hospital would be truly ‘Western Australian’.

“The thing that worries me is that people want to bring overseas expertise in, which is fine, but personally I think we need to be really Western Australian in our outcomes,” he said.

“Perth is really a reflection now of everything else that is happening in the world. I’d like to see us develop our own [brand]. We’re exporting our architecture all around the world so why not foster and build it here?”

Mr Mollett does not intend to shy away from expressing his views on the topic of Perth’s built environment during his tenure at RAIA, and wants the architectural community to take a greater role in the ensuing debate on ‘city making’.

“The most significant issue for Perth is that the decisions made aren’t always in the best interest of a developing city. How we get beyond that I’m not sure, but I want to make sure we’ve got a voice,” he said.

Part of his plan is to assist the organisation to become more of an advocacy group.  In recent years, that role has been mostly filled by independent group CityVision, which has been involved in public debates on such significant proposals as the Treasury Building redevelopment and Northbridge Link, to the point of submitting alternative plans.

Mr Mollett said the groups were not necessarily aligned but he wanted them to sit down and look at co-ordinating their responses.

“We all have the best interests of Perth at heart and that’s what is important,” he said.

Appointed last month, Mr Mollett has accepted a two-year term.

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