Last Wednesday a group of Ridley and Willow staff members attended the WIDAC end of year event. As a guest speaker, alongside Michelle Evans of Make and Claire Liu of WGE, I was keen to learn more about WIDAC as well as share my learning and experiences on the project I’ve been working on for the past 3 years.

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(L-R) Michelle Evans (Architectural Designer, Make), Claire Liu (Electrical Engineer, WGE), Catherine Zuza (Senior Associate, Ridley)

The theme of “Reflections” was extremely relevant given the time of year. As we enter the craziness that the Christmas period brings, it felt important to stop and reflect on the year that was. The evening’s proceedings opened with chairs Elise Honeyman and Emma Foster kicking off the night with some interactive quizzing, online polling and their own personal reflections for the year which set the tone.  Their thoughts were that it has been a big year, describing the incredible growth of the organisation with relation to increase numbers and success of past networking events.

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WIDAC Sydney's Elise Honeyman and Emma Foster

Following them, Michelle, Claire and I continued the theme by reflecting on our journey of the Sandstone Precinct project. This will be a flagship 6 star hotel in the heart of the city through a full restoration of the existing Department of Education building.

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As a team we have been working in collaboration for the last 3 years on this monumental project and spoke about our journey from varying perspectives. Michelle covered the rich history of the building and how the many iterations over time have positively and negatively impacted on the original design.

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Zooming in, I covered the philosophy behind restoring heritage buildings through the gentle balance between reclaiming the original glory of heritage with new world functionality. Claire dived into complexities from a services perspective, highlighting that it takes a lot of creativity to retrofit services into heritage buildings. 

The WIDAC team continued to recap on their achievements on the year and ran through the many thought provoking events they have hosted thus far. What really resonated with me about WIDAC is their commitment to authentic, honest conversations to assist with the empowerment of others. Unlike other networking events, they have really considered how to best engage an audience by focussing on issues within the design and construction industry that people care about.

What really resonated with me about WIDAC is their commitment to authentic, honest conversations to assist with the empowerment of others.

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Overall, I’m excited for the new year with WIDAC and look forward to further engagement with this great initiative.

Catherine Zuza is a Senior Associate at Ridley/Willow.

As a registered architect and Green Star Accredited Professional, Catherine has been involved in a wide number of projects across many sectors including mixed-use, residential, transport, education and hospitality for several notable award-winning architecture firms, with the last 4 years as project lead at Ridley and Willow.

Also a mum of 2 young girls Catherine continually pushes the boundaries of working mum leadership in the architectural industry and truly hopes that one day we will be able to achieve true equality in the workplace.

About Willow

Born of the built world, Willow draws on our deep industry expertise and technology, to create a new category of innovation for the built environment. Willow is the first in the industry to create a single portal for the digital twins for property and infrastructure. Drawing on all historical and live data, this is a convergence of actionable insights that transforms the operations of assets and experiences. Willow draws on our deep domain expertise through the entire lifecycle in the development and management of property and infrastructure – from design, to construction, to ownership and management – creating a platform for the digital twin for the built environment that identifies actionable insight and delivers revolutionary innovation in the property and infrastructure industry. Willow Technology Corporation is an Australian organisation operating globally. More information: https://www.willowinc.com

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