Purcell celebrates 75th anniversary globally and its tenth year in Australia

Dec 16, 2022
  • Article by Clémence Carayol

Purcell doesn’t need introducing anymore – the world’s largest team of heritage experts working in architecture, heritage consultancy and master planning celebrates its 75th year anniversary globally, and the tenth year on Australian soil.

Asia Pacific’s Senior Team Lucy Burke-Smith (Hobart), Steve Phillips (Hong Kong) and Tracey Skovronek (Sydney) with CEO Mark Goldspink (middle left). Photo: Daniel Kukec

2022 is a milestone at Purcell.

It coincides with numerous achievements, such as the practice’s 75th anniversary – including 14 years in Hong Kong along with ten years in Australia now with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.

“The single most valuable lesson I have learnt through leading a 75-year-old practice is never to stand still,” says Purcell CEO Mark Goldspink. 

“Fourteen years ago, we took the leap to open our first overseas office in Hong Kong and we have never looked back. Since then we have added offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. 

Purcell’s conservation management plan for the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings in Hobart won the Planning Institute of Australia’s (Tas) award for ‘best planning ideas – small project’ in 2020. Photo: Adam Gibson

“Last year we transitioned to an employee-ownership model and this has also been a very positive step in the company’s history. 

“I’ve seen it has already had a beneficial impact on our ability to attract and retain the best talent, enhancing the innovation, quality and breadth of the services we offer.  

“I couldn’t be prouder to see Purcell grow from strength to strength as we continue to develop our expertise in restoring, modernising and extending our most cherished buildings.”

This year is also a synonym of recognition on so many levels for the iconic practice, as it celebrates one year of Employee Ownership, as well as being the biggest architecture firm that specialises in Heritage in the world according to World Architecture 100.

Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts is amongst the numerous projects Purcell demonstrated its ‘savoir-faire’ on recently and their relationship continues to this day. Photo: Edmon Leong

This is no surprise. Purcell’s projects range from award-winning designs for sustainable new buildings, retrofit and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, and heritage consultancy on many of the world’s most well-known landmarks dating from the ninth to the 20th centuries.

Purcell is also part of AJ100 – the definitive list of the biggest UK architectural practices.

The practice has an outstanding portfolio of world-class projects across the UK and Asia Pacific, from cultural, public and hospitality to residential and infrastructure.

One way to explain this success is to look at what makes Purcell so unique.

It all lies in the practice’s approach to every project, as it is not led by a dominant design style or dogma, but by the nature of the buildings and their contexts, the fabric, heritage and the value they could bring to the communities and wider public.

Police Headquarters Block from Parade Ground, Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts Photo: Edmon Leong

The practice’s approach to sustainability is also inherent to Purcell’s uniqueness, according to the head of sustainability Laura Baron.

“The perception that historic buildings are at odds with a sustainable, low-energy future belongs to the past,” she says. 

“The core principle at the heart of heritage conservation is the responsible stewardship of our inherited world. 

“This value is intrinsically linked to a regenerative design approach – one which can support planetary health and conserve our natural resources.   

A view of Bice Building, winner of MIPIM Asia Best Refurbished Building award 2022,across the new public realm treatments from North Terrace. Photo: Baukultur

“The challenges in Australia are different to those we face in the UK, but the approach is guided by the same principle. We start from a position of knowledge and apply this to the building fabric to understand the best way to approach each case.”

Baron adds that “constructive conservation” is a term used to describe an approach to building conservation, which sensitively manages the changes and alterations necessary to ensure the future of a historic building, and its continued use and enjoyment for the long term. 

“At Purcell, we have been retrofitting, conserving and adapting heritage buildings for 75 years which has given us an enormous head-start in what is now quickly becoming a mainstream architectural sector.”

With Purcell’s Asia Pacific team, you are assured to be in good hands. Photo: Daniel Kukec

Discover also how Fieldwork Architects recently captured the ‘heritage of place’ in Elwood Home.

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