Perth local Kukame McPierzie has joined Woods Bagot as Perth Studio chair, taking a lead role in key transport, workplace and education projects.
It’s a been a steady surge to success for McPierzie, who was awarded the 2019 Western Australian Emerging Architect Prize for being “instrumental in the design and delivery of ‘city changing’ schemes”. McPierzie credits a sense of responsibility for his achievement.
“Being an architect is more than a job. As architects we have a responsibility to make places better and help facilitate meaningful and positive change for people and communities. That’s the challenge I’m constantly energised by,” says McPierzie.
Announcing the appointment, Woods Bagot principal and regional executive chair (Australia and New Zealand) Kate Frear described McPierzie as an exceptional leader and asset to the practice.
“Kukame’s liveliness and future-focused aspirations for the Perth studio and beyond make him a tremendous asset,” Frear said.
Having held leadership roles at ARM Architecture (in Melbourne and Perth) and Gresley Abas (Perth), McPierzie describes his appointment at Woods Bagot as an alignment of design values and like-minded philosophy.
“Joining Woods Bagot felt right as soon as I met the team. There’s a shared vision for where the company is going and a collective passion for design is infused throughout the global studio. Local experience and knowledge are enhanced by understanding and access to breadth of national and global expertise,” says McPierzie.
“The firm has a real soul. Combine that with the depth of knowledge gained from 150 years of design experience and the future feels bright.”
McPierzie has worked on a wide range of projects spanning urban design, masterplanning, public architecture, education, community, residential, and temporary installations – choosing to develop a portfolio that crosses a variety of sectors.
Whether he’s working on a masterplan, placemaking or addressing the ‘missing middle’ – the lack of well-designed, medium density housing in Australian cities – McPierzie takes great pride in his listening skills.
“I’m interested in setting up a genuine dialogue. Collaboration and communicating clearly are vital to any project, helping us understand why we’re doing something. Understanding someone’s point of view clearly from the outset unlocks the rest of the process,” he says.
A team leader recognised for his strength in providing direction and honesty, McPierzie believes Woods Bagot’s Perth studio has no shortage of talent to share.
“There’s a group of dynamic and multifaceted designers here who are thrilled by the opportunity to be doing significant work in our hometown and who are passionate about Perth’s future. Sharing what Woods Bagot can do with the community is my new prerogative, starting right now,” he says.
McPierzie gives back to Perth’s architecture community through advocacy, engagement, participation and education. Energetic and genuinely eager to share his experience, he is involved in the education sector with the University of Notre Dame, Curtin University, the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC), and the University of Western Australia, where he has run a Master of Architecture design studio since 2017.
Teaching has taught McPierzie the importance of being generous with ideas. “Ideas are there to be tested and discussed. It’s not my role to tell students how things should be done, but rather to teach them design thinking – providing them with the tools to undertake a rigorous and creative design process,” he explains.
“Whether you’re teaching architecture, or designing it, empowering people to find moments of delight and communicate is what’s important. These moments are the difference between leaving a building feeling the same as when you arrived, or feeling better for having been there.”