Architects Online

An interview with Founder of McIldowie Partners, Steven McIldowie.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 5.23.17 PM

Tell us a bit about your practice.

McIldowie Partners is a medium sized architectural practice specialising predominately in the Education sector, with projects also spanning across Hospitality and Corporate clients.

We practice in Victoria, New South Wales and New Zealand and have three directors and a total of fifteen staff. We have over seventy years of established practice in Architecture and have operated in our current structure since 2000.

As educational sector architects we undertake projects from long range visionary Master Planning, through to minor cosmetic refurbishment projects, but most of our work is in new construction projects, up to $25 million capital works, providing specialist facilities in all aspects of University, School and Preschool learning.

Our role is to provide traditional services from preparation of client brief, concept design, to design development to working with services and structural engineering input, acoustic engineer advice and sustainable design solutions through to the most demanding phase of preparation of working drawings. Our role in this phase is to document all aspects of a construction project including material selection, construction detailing and coordination of all systems. The final phases include tender, building approval, contract administration and post occupancy reviews.

This is described as ‘traditional’ architectural services where we report to a board of governors and work closely with all stakeholders and authorities to achieve a compliant, cost effective and operationally complete building.

What role does technology play in your business?

In our industry, technology is essential for liaising and communicating with clients, contractors and reps. Technology and digital tools also act as a consistent extension of our brand, opening up the potential to showcase our work on a domestic and international stage.

We currently have an online presence. Our current website hosts general information, contact details and a couple of case studies. It has worked well to date, but in recent months, I’ve been thinking about new ways we could be leveraging our website to expand our marketing and communications.

Tell us about an innovative or successful way that you’ve introduced technology into your business.

We’ve had a really good experience integrating 3D revit software with the 2D CAD programme in our firm. This has had a positive impact on efficiency for our team, as well as our clients. We found bringing our staff on the journey, ensuring they were upskilled and confident with this new software was critical to a good outcome.

Do you have an example of where implementing new technology has been less successful?

Purchasing iPads for the company has not been as successful as we thought. They are under utilised and not as adaptive as we had anticipated. We essentially just use them to access email from overseas, which isn’t a great outcome.

How will the use of technology in your firm change over the next 12 months?

We really see the potential of a great digital strategy. Whilst we’re getting lots of projects in the door, there are areas where we could grow enquiry by showcasing our work online.

Currently, it’s not efficient to update our website with new information on our completed projects, works in progress and new clients. A WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has been identified as a platform that we could use to manage our own website. We are also exploring the role of social media in our marketing and communications.

For us, it’s important to start with a plan. Over the coming weeks, we’ll begin the planning process – first identifying our objectives, and then workshopping platforms and tools to help us get there.

Where do you see the most potential for technology to change and improve the way the architecture industry does business?

I see a lot of potential and increasing uptake in things like 3D printing and virtual reality. These technologies can really assist with and improve our client journey, making it easier to show physical 3D mockups, and making it possible for clients to walk into and experience new spaces prior to construction.

Click for CPD code