- Article by Natalie Mortimer
Woods Bagot has promoted Rhonda Mitchell and Jason Fraser to principal, with regional executive chair Kate Frear congratulating the pair on their ability to “seek out challenges, connection and choice”.
Based in Melbourne and Sydney respectively, Mitchell and Fraser found architecture in different ways. After graduating with a fine arts degree, Fraser found himself “at odds with the insular and oft-exclusive art world” and sought out “a more connected, equally creative profession”. He began studying at the University of Technology Sydney not long after.
With nearly two decades of industry experience, Fraser has developed a diverse portfolio. From mixed-use towers to urban masterplans, his approach strives for an “architectural intelligence” – beginning with user experience and looking through urban, social, culture and environmental lenses, to embed value.
“What’s most important is a beautiful idea – something intelligent and rational that places substance ahead of style,” says Fraser.
Mitchell, meanwhile, wanted to pursue a vocation where creative thinking can foster change.
“I was drawn to architecture because it’s a profession that takes notice – paying close attention to what’s good, what isn’t, and what needs to come next,” says Mitchell.
Mitchell is especially attracted to projects that give back to their communities, whether that’s an inner-city performance space, a regional library or a retail centre.
“The measure of a project’s success is the enjoyment of those using it. Whatever the location, budget or typology, what’s important is that a space is engaging, a little bit surprising and designed to best fit its context and people,” she says.
Mitchell points to Collins Arch, the project that is redeveloping a city block in central Melbourne, and one that she leads for Woods Bagot in collaboration with New York-based firm SHoP Architects.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure that Collins Arch positively impacts as many people as it can. By prioritising the ground plane, we’ve been able to make 40 percent of the site area open to the public,” says Mitchell.
“It’s a new, highly accessible space that links to the broader urban context of central Melbourne by inviting the public into and through the site – creating a community where commercial, hotel, residential and retail offerings engage with and are optimised by their specific setting.”
Speaking about the promotions Frear says: “Jason and Rhonda instigate fresh ideas and drive the rigorous curiosity Woods Bagot’s global studio is known for. Both set the bar high – investing in our people with the same enthusiasm they invest in our business. We celebrate their appointments with great pride.”