Andrew Johnson is a Senior Manager in our Australian Buildings practice. Across his 18-year career, Andrew has helped deliver sophisticated buildings services on complex, large-scale projects, including most recently the long-awaited Mernda Rail Extension in Melbourne’s fast growing north-eastern suburbs.
We asked Andrew about his experience working in the Building Services space with our clients and the trends and challenges he is observing, especially in regards to transport infrastructure design.
Q: What trends are you seeing play a big role in building design currently?
New technologies, when used effectively, are increasingly becoming more integrated into the way we do and deliver our work. These technologies are no longer just ‘gimmicks’ and are helping to considerably improve the quality of design documentation. For example, sophisticated imaging technologies, such as point cloud scanners and 360-degree cameras are becoming a daily norm. VR (Virtual Reality) is being integrated into how we deliver and communicate our work with clients, and their stakeholders – our clients at all levels can now see exactly how a building will look and how specific building systems will work together upon completion.
Q: You worked on the Mernda Rail extension in Melbourne. What unique approach did Beca take in delivering our services for this important infrastructure project?
We used a couple of innovative approaches in delivering building services for this project. This included automation of drawings for builders and other construction professionals involved on this project – allowing an increased level of crucial detail to be clearly conveyed.
Revit (3D modelling software) was also used to develop the lighting system designs for the new train stations on the Mernda rail extension. This helped us to better coordinate with architects, increasing the speed and efficiency of the important review process.
Of note was the use of featured lighting to show off parts of train station buildings the architects wanted to highlight. This includes highlighting the ticketing machines and platform entrances for passengers, without having to rely solely on traditional signage.
This also goes to the importance of “placemaking” in infrastructure projects, something architects have been well aware of for many years, but buildings engineers are also now coming to appreciate.
Q: What projects have you most enjoyed working on?
The Victorian Desalination Plant would have to be my favourite project. It was a very large, complex project which we delivered in collaboration with Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP). Despite the challenging nature of this project, there were hundreds of people all moving in the same direction, striving to achieve a common goal. In this case building a world-class desalination facility to provide fresh, on-demand drinking water for Melbourne. Many Beca people involved with this project 10 years ago are now working together on the South East Water Boneo Water Recycling Treatment Plant project. Working on big projects like this, which ultimately makes life easier for the general community is very rewarding and I enjoy seeing projects come to life after completion.
Q: How did you become a Buildings Engineer and what attracted you to this field?
I came to be a building engineer by accident to be honest! 18 years ago I completed a summer internship with Beca’s Auckland office and was soon offered a graduate role. I’ve been with Beca ever since and have worked across our offices in Auckland, Wellington, London (now closed), Sydney and Melbourne during that time.
One of the things I most enjoy about my role is producing good (building) designs that have a real positive impact on people. Given the number of hours many of us spend indoors at work, little things like having enough natural light and ease of access in these buildings add up to make our everyday a little better. And with buildings being the biggest consumers of energy, making small tweaks to building systems design can have a real material impact on cost savings and operational efficiency in the long term.
One of the things I most enjoy about my role is producing good (building) designs that have a real positive impact on people.
Manager Buildings Services - Australia